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HARLINGEN — A joyously cool wind tussles the flags and the trees around the purple structure with the dashing signs.
The bold lettering on the black background of the dashing signs announce the arrival in the Valley of a new and fresh talent.
Those signs at Glizzey’s Food Hut reveal the inventive talent of one Jarmain Walton whose experiments in the flavors and mixtures of an old favorite, the hot dog, are delightfully delicious and filled with surprises.
These are no ordinary hot dogs at Glizzey’s on Wilson Road. Here you can enjoy the Pizza Dog, the BLT Dog, the Hawaiian Hot Dog and the ever popular Harlingen Jalapeno Popper Hot Dog.
“It’s like an explosion of flavors,” says customer Chris Villarreal, 33.
Perhaps that is why he’s picking up two of the “poppers.”
“It has just the right amount of spice and sweetness,” says Chris, who is also picking up three “shmegulars” for kids as well as BLT.
The shmegular is more like the “plain” hot dog for the youngsters while the BLT is an all-beef hot dog with tomato, cooked bacon, crumbled diced dill pickles, mayonnaise, sour cream, lettuce and green onions.
“We don’t just make hot dogs, we make the mouth happy,” says Walton, 52, who only opened Sept. 11 at 3131 Wilson Road next to the Harlingen Sports Complex.
My mouth is very happy biting into the soon-to-be famous Harlingen Jalapeno Popper. I watch with some trepidation as Walton loads jalapenos onto my hot dog. My tongue has been tortured in the past by jalapenos. But I’m going to try it anyway because I am curious and intrigued.
I feel relieved and then delighted as I bite into this popper with just enough hot to give it a kick without sending me to the water faucet and the flavor is marvelous. I believe the cream sauce made with crumbled fried jalapenos, chive and onion cream cheese and diced jalapenos may have reined in the fire of jalapenos and to make it bearable and pleasant.
The ingenuity of Walton’s creations are especially significant when you consider this Army veterans has never had any professional training as a chef.
“My background is in safety so I’m originally a senior safety manager on high scale projects like wind turbines, solar panels, demolition and construction sites,” says Walton, a native of Toledo, Ohio.
“I came down here to do a project in Rio Hondo and was there for three years,” he says. “The community just grew on me and I told my wife I was like, ‘Let’s just stay.’ It was a good neighborhood, good people, everybody was warm and welcoming, so we stayed.”
He had in his mind the idea of opening an eating establishment but his workload was a hindrance to that goal. He was working 14 to 16 hours a day six days a week, leaving him without the requisite amount of time to move forward on his dream.
But that hindrance was only finite: he ultimately found a way to leave his job and pursue his vision, a vision which would include designing hot dogs which would be at once familiar and yet new to Valley tastes.
Having had no professional training as a chef, how did he come up with his recipes? How did he come up with the Hawaiian Hot Dog with pineapple and red onion and cilantro? How did he develop the Harlingen Jalapeno Popper Hot Dog with jalapeno peppers, whipped chive cream cheese, Kosher salt and nacho cheese sauce?
“Just things I liked,” he reflects with a fine medley of pride and humility and honesty. His manner in his small kitchen at the purple hut on Wilson Road is direct, quick and sincere, with the vitality of someone much younger.
“Originally it was like 25 hot dogs, and I had to narrow it down because that was just too many,” he says. “Narrowing it down to ten was really hard. So, I made a big tray of hot dogs, and me and my wife and kids were just eating hot dogs and finding out which ones we liked the best and we narrowed it down to that ten.”
He and his wife have four children ages six, five, two and nine months and are expecting another, and they look forward to raising their children here.
“We’re here for the long haul,” he says.
The plans for his business confirm that intention. Very soon he’ll bring in turf grass and put in outdoor tables. Each table will have its own QR Code so customers can place their orders. He’ll have a children’s area where kids can watch Disney movies on a large outdoor screen and play bean bag toss and Connect Four and test their skill on a large wooden Jenga game.
Walton’s business plan and his innovations on a hot dog reveal an enthusiasm that will carry those plans to completion.
On a Friday he has a special called The State Fair Corn Dog Glizzey. On Monday there are specials for people on motorcycles. His videos and advertisement on Facebook and Instagram and YouTube and Twitter show an ever-evolving creativity most appreciated and important for South Texas.
I’m looking forward now to sampling the Pizza Dog, the Nacho Hot Dogs, the Sonoran Style Hot Dog, the …