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Simple Goodness Found at Anderson's Skins Hotdogs

By David Boegaard

It's hard to miss the fact that the hip new trend in food today is hyper-specialty restaurants. New places have been popping up from Brooklyn to Madison to Los Angeles, serving nothing but meatballs, or chicken and waffles, or cake. Skins Hotdogs is hip like that, but they don't have to paint on their authenticity. They've been serving high-quality hotdogs, with toppings and sides, to the people of Anderson, SC for more than 60 years, now. With national recognition and a chocolate pound cake that's the only dessert you'll ever need, Skins has become a true classic.

Founded in 1946 by Loyd "Skin" Thrasher, Skins Hotdogs has served five generations of customers. The establishment began as a pool hall that served a variety of different foods to keep customers in the shop. Over time, however, hotdogs emerged as the favorite item and Loyd decided to remove the pool tables to focus on the food. In 1986 Loyd decided to pass on the business.

Fortunately, Loyd's two sons and his son-in-law were interested and started working with their old man to learn the business. "The Skin Thrasher family is working on three generations of family members that have worked or are currently working in the family business," says Matt Thrasher, co-owner of Skins. Only two years later, Skins expanded to a second location in Anderson, and in the 90s they opened 5 more Skins Hotdog restaurants in South Carolina.

In the 80s, Skins began to be recognized for their delicious, high-quality hotdogs and classic establishments. Skins has been mentioned everywhere from Gourmet magazine to Money magazine, and PBS's "The Hotdog Program" even named Skins one of the top ten hotdogs in the United States. "Skins has served hotdogs on Capitol Hill," says Thrasher with pride, "and has won countless best hotdogs awards in most cities in the upstate of South Carolina."

So what makes for Skins' success? "Fresh, quality ingredients mixed with our family's secret chili recipe," says Thrasher, "served proudly with love, commitment and touched with God's blessing that make a great Skins hotdog." All the hotdogs and chili are made fresh in small batches. And Skins spares no expense to ensure that all the ingredients are fresh and high-quality, with all meat hotdogs and ground beef chili.

"We understand we are only as good as the last hotdog served," says Thrasher. But the toughest test for Skins hotdogs is the regular meetings of the whole family. "Our entire family eats at Skins at least once a week (all 32 of us), we would hear it from the family if the ingredients were bad or the taste has changed."

And those hotdogs have to be great, because they're almost the only item on the menu! "We only service hotdogs, chips, fresh coleslaw, cookies and chocolate cake," notes Thrasher, "so everything must be good for us to continue to stay in business."

One might think a menu couldn't have much less than that, but the menu at Skins used to be even simpler -- the chocolate pound cake is a relatively recent addition. Skins was looking for a desert item. "We wanted to serve something that was very good and made from scratch," says Thrasher. And they were able to get a close friend to help them perfect the recipe. "We sell so many cakes now we have turned our mother's house into a bakery and a home office," Thrasher mentions with pride.

But despite all its success, Skins has always kept its heart in Anderson, SC. They feel like they are a deep part of the Anderson community, and try to give back with a variety of anonymous donations. "Being connected is just about giving back to the community because we are very thankful and grateful to live and work in Anderson county," says Thrasher. So next time you're in Anderson, try a Classic, and taste a local tradition.

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