Mention the name "Kuhn" to a long-time Fairfield resident and his or her first thought most likely will be, "chili." Not just any chili, but a hot, spicy chili smothering a foot-long hot dog served up for generations at Kuhn's hot dog stand.
Kuhn's Corner is gone now. It stood at the junction of Black Rock Turnpike and Tunxis Hill Road, but was sold in 1986 to a developer who tore down the restaurant and hot dog stand to make way for a shopping center. You can still find Kuhn's chili for sale in spots around town, though, especially right across the street from where the original stood, at the Five-O-Deli on Black Rock Turnpike.
Do an Internet search and you'll find blog postings devoted to hot dog stand and its memorable chili.
For Fairfield Town Clerk Betsy Browne, childhood visits to Kuhn's rank tops among her favorite Fairfield food memories.
"When I was a kid, my family would go to Kuhn's for takeout and we'd picnic at the boat basin," Browne said. "They had great cheeseburgers, hot dogs and especially their fries. Everything was better with Kuhn's chili."
Kuhn's stuffed and baked clams weren't too bad, either, she said, and came with "tons of chopped clams in them."
Other Fairfielders, no doubt, also can recall food favorites or memorable meals -- and the Fairfield Public Library wants to hear from them.
The library has issued a call for people to write about their favorite food memories as part of the One Book/One Town program, a community reading project that this year centers around Jonathan Safran Foer's book, "Eating Animals."
For the first time, the library is holding a writing contest in conjunction with the program, with the theme: "Around the Table: Food Memoirs From Fairfield," with categories for children 6 to 11 years old, teens from 12 to 18 years old and adults, unpublished, and adults, published.
The memoir can be poetry with a maximum of 36 lines or an essay with a maximum of 300 words for children and 800 words for teens and adults, with the top three writers in each category invited to read their submission at an awards ceremony on March 1. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31.
Library Director Karen Ronald said only a handful of entries have been received so far, but added that many people work on their writing until the deadline. Or maybe they need to hear a few more memories to get their -- ahem -- creative juices flowing.
Is it any coincidence that Super Duper Weenie owner Gary Zemola's favorite food memory revolves around hot dogs?
"I was still in high school at the time and I always used to hear my parents rave about Rawley's hot dogs," Zemola said, "so when I finally got my license I took my then girlfriend there and we got two dogs with the works, some fries and two large black-and-white milk shakes, cruised over to Sasco Beach and ate them in the car."
That was well over 20 years ago, but Zemola -- who recalls the weather was "rather crummy," but the date "romantic" -- still recalls "everything being so delicious."
Though ownership has changed, Rawley's is still open on the Post Road.
First Selectman Kenneth Flatto said his favorite Fairfield food memory involves "celebrating two of our children's high school graduations at Centro's with the entire family, grandparents as well, while enjoying linguini with clams and sharing my wife's favorite shrimp splendido."
Jokes may abound about cops and doughnuts, but Police Chief Gary MacNamara doesn't include any local coffee shops as his favorite Fairfield food memory. "It was `Something From the Farm,' " MacNamara said, a Post Road shop where fresh, healthy food could be found.
And state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said he's got a couple of favorite food memories. "But my most recent favorite food memory is the macaroni and cheese -- the grown up mac and cheese -- at Cafe Lola. It's out of this world -- they put bacon
For information on submitting a food memoir, check the Fairfield Public Library's website, www.fairfieldpubliclibrary.org.