Category Archives: Hot Dogs

REVIEW: Jerry’s Grill – Raleigh

Ever since moving to Raleigh, I have been on the lookout for a little hole-in-the-wall place that serves a good cheeseburger. I have tried what seem to be the two Raleigh favorites, Char-Grill and Snoopy’s, and thought they were okay but not what I was looking for. I was in search of a place similar to a place that served burgers like Corner Grill in High Point is one of my favorites. I finally made it to Jerry’s Grill near the intersection of Whitaker Mill & Wake Forest in Raleigh after several recommendations from friends about one of the best lunches in Raleigh.

I ordered the #6 combo which is a cheeseburger, hot dog, fries & a drink for about $6.75. My combo came with one of the regular red dogs with a steamed bun that are both cooked in their hot dog cooker. The burgers are thick and cooked a flattop grill so they have a nice crispness. The buns are lightly buttered and then toasted on the grill before they add the toppings. I suggest getting both the burgers and dogs all the way (chili, slaw, mustard, onion). The chili doesn’t overpower the taste of the burger and the slaw is soppy but not so much that it makes the bun soggy. The fries are the generic crinkle cut variety so they aren’t anything special but fries are always a great accompaniment to all the way burgers and dogs.

Jerry’s also serves breakfast all day (note: they close early at 2 p.m.) which looks delicious although I haven’t tried it with breakfast items like The Hobo, the Blue Rock Deluxe or their made from scratch biscuits. You can also order fried bologna sandwiches or daily specials like baked spaghetti or corndogs. You can also find a variety of different beverages ranging from Snapple to bottle Cokes but I haven’t tried anything but their sweet tea which is delicious.

The interior of Jerry’s Grill is a little tight especially when it gets busy. There is a small bar with five seats and two community tables plus two tables outside when the weather is nice. I love community tables at restaurants because it gives you the opportunity to talk with new people. If you feel like being reclusive, there will be a few newspapers from that day laying around that you can read.

I have been back to Jerry’s Grill about two or three times since my first visit and have the feeling that I will be turning into a regular there. Lunch at Jerry’s isn’t fast food but you can get in and out of there in about 3o to 35 minutes. I definitely think you should check it out and let us know what you think.

Jerry's Grill on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Paul’s Place – Rocky Point

I ended up in Rocky Point a few months ago while on the search for the greatest hot dog in the state of North Carolina. I had been down in Wilmington for a wedding and was on the way back to Greensboro with Ron and Anna when we decided to pull off and grab some lunch. We had planned on getting some fast food since it was Easter weekend and we didn’t think any local places would be open. Surprisingly, the fast food restaurant we were trying to eat at was closed for the holiday but we drove a little further down the road and came across Paul’s Place and it was open!


My dad had told me that his favorite hot dog was Paul’s Place just outside of Wilmington but he had never given me the specific location or exit that it was off of. He told me that their best dog wasn’t the Carolina-style dog (chili, slaw, mustard, onions) but it was the one with their special relish on top. He and my mom said that they used to buy jars of the Paul’s Place relish as presents for their friends during the holidays because it was just that good.

Paul’s Place opened in 1928 and the Paul family has been serving their special dogs to patrons ever since.Paul’s Place serves their dogs on a steamed split bun. Their dogs are boiled in water and then simmered in the same pot until they are served. I ordered three dogs and a drink ($5.45) which are served with Paul’s version of “all the way” at no extra cost. According to InsterstateEateries.com, the Paul’s Place relish is “a holdover from the World War II era when beef was rationed.”

The relish on Paul’s Place signature hot dogs definitely gives a different taste to the hot dogs than we are used to in North Carolina. It replaces the spicy chili with a nice tang. However, I thought the change in taste is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong though. I love a good ol’ fashioned Carolina-style dog as much as any North Carolinian but I think change is good and this is a great change especially in the hot dog department.

You can order a Carolina-style dog for sixty cents more per dog but that bumps up the price of a single dog to $2.20 instead of $1.60. I debated on ordering one so I could compare the two but I decided to stick with the favorite from Paul’s. I will give the Carolina-style a go next time I am down that way. You can purchase jars of the Paul’s Place relish at the restaurant. I think you can also find it at various Piggly Wiggly stores around North Carolina although I am not sure which of those stores you can find it at.

Ron, Anna and I all enjoyed our Paul’s Place hot dogs and we all agreed that we would go back again the next time that we were down near Wilmington. I regret not picking up a jar of the relish because I have cooked hot dogs at home a few times and would have loved to been able to make one like Paul’s Place with some yellow mustard and onions. If you are cruising down to Wilmington or heading back home from the beach, you should stop in to Paul’s Place and scoop up a dog or two. I think you will like what you find there. Plus, they have great milkshakes if you are driving on a hot day!

 Paul's Place Famous Hotdogs on Urbanspoon

 

 

REVIEW: Brown-Gardiner Drugstore – Greensboro

Brown-Gardiner is one of those places that hasn’t changed much since it first opened in Greensboro. It is one of the few remaining family-owned pharmacies with a lunch counter that I have come across during my food adventures.  For me, Brown-Gardiner is a place that I just can fathom how I haven’t been there before. A few years ago, I drove by it hundreds and hundreds of times going back and forth from my apartment and my office without ever realizing that it was a restaurant.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I finally found out about Brown-Gardiner and decided to head up there for lunch one day. I went up there with my friend, Elliot, and one of his buddies for a quick bite to eat. Elliot’s girlfriend, Ashley, grew up in Greensboro and told me that it was a place I need to review for Eat It, North Carolina. I am glad she told me about it because I don’t think I would have ever made it there if she didn’t say anything about it.

Brown-Gardiner is a gathering place for many different people in Greensboro ranging from local high school students to some of the most influential politicians in Greensboro. It is more than just a place where people eat lunch. People go to Brown-Gardiner to be a part of the Greensboro community and to spend time with each other. It is a very family-oriented place that is the local hot spot for grabbing a quick bite to eat with friends.

Elliot went with a cheeseburger combo with lettuce & tomato which came with a size of large crispy crinkle-cut fries. The lettuce and tomato were both fresh and looked great. The burger itself is pretty small and similar in size to a value cheeseburger from McDonald’s or Wendy’s.  They cook the patties on a flat top grill that has been there for ages. Elliot saw one of the burgers come out and decided to get an additional hot dog. He said the additional hot dog was a good idea because he didn’t think the burger combo would have filled him up. He said the hot dog was pretty good albeit a little sloppy.

 

I asked the waitress what I should order and she said, without hesitation, that I needed to try the Nanny Special. This is the signature sandwich which is named after Imogene “Nanny” Sells, who ran the soda fountain for 23 years until she recently passed away in 2008. The sandwich actually sounds a little sketchy on the menu and I was a little hesitant about ordering it. The description for the sandwich is “Steak’um, grilled onions, Swiss cheese, special sauce on a hoagie.”

It doesn’t sound very appealing and didn’t actually look that good when it came to the table either. Frankly, I was a little disappointed at both myself and the waitress who suggested it. I guess I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover because although this sandwich looked sketchy, it had an awesome taste  to it.  Nanny Special would have just been an ordinary steak sandwich if it wasn’t for the special sauce which was like a hybrid barbecue sauce/ketchup that was interesting for the first bit or two and then just turned extremely delicious for the rest of the sandwich. I wish they would get away from Steak’um and use some real meat for the sandwich but, for what its worth, it was still pretty good.

I would consider Brown-Gardiner Drug Store more of a food experience at a historically relevant place in Greensboro as opposed to a must-go place because of the food. They have delicious hand-squeezed orangeade served over pebble ice which is a must if you go. Brown-Gardiner is one of those places that you should go to take in the community & fun and enjoy a fairly inexpensive, lunch counter. It won’t be the best lunch that you’ve ever eaten but I have the feeling you will have a good experience up there!

Brown Gardiner Fountain on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Bill’s Hot Dogs – Washington, NC

If you ask anyone from Washington, NC what the best hot dog in North Carolina is, there is a 99% chance that they will tell you that it is Bill’s Hot Dog down by the waterfront. If they tell you about another hot dog, they might be lying about being from Little Washington (a nickname that many people have given the town). I went to college less than an hour away there in Greenville. I drove down to Washington occasionally when I was in school but I never went to Bill’s back then even with as many people from there who told me about their hometown favorite.

Bill’s Hot Dogs is located on Gladden Street in downtown Washington near the historic waterfront. When you walk through the front door, you enter in a small room that has a brief standing area right before the counter. Their specialty is hot dogs and they only like to serve them one way. The staff at Bill’s Hot Dogs isn’t the most welcoming bunch and tend to be a little bit abrasive especially if you don’t know what you want. You tend to find this at restaurants that have gained statewide notoriety. Bill’s Hot Dogs are cheap eating, too, as each hot dog is only $0.98.

 

A lot of people enjoy cruising on their boats to the waterfront on a nice day, tying their boat off on the community dock and then heading up to Bill’s to grab a couple of hot dogs with friends. If you don’t have a boat, you can still grab a parking spot down near the waterfront and walk up. My dad and I were on the way through eastern North Carolina and decided to take a detour through Washington to give Bill’s Hot Dogs a try. It was a pretty windy & chilly day but we still decided to sit out a bench on the waterfront and eat our hot dogs. It was very relaxing sitting out by the water.

The hot dogs at Bill’s are the nuclear red dog that is fried in a vat of grease and then dropped in a steamed bun. Their “all-the-way” dog is served with chopped raw onions, mustard and their signature chili which is a meatless, white pepper chili. The toppings are placed on the bun before the wiener is added so you can’t really see them in the picture (above).The mustard is the everyday yellow stuff and the onions are pretty pungent which is what I like. The thing that sets Bill’s hot dogs apart from the rest is the signature chili. They call it a chili but is actually more of a gravy. It is laced with pepper and has a pretty strong kick to it. It is definitely different than any hot dog that I have ever tried.

I am not sure if it was a bad day at Bill’s or not but my dad & I didn’t enjoy our hot dogs. I usually have a stomach of steel and can eat pretty much anything but these Bill’s Hot Dogs crushed me. I took me about three or four hours until I started feeling somewhat decent. It was brutal and has me not wanting to go back to Bill’s anytime soon. My dad said he felt as awful as I did, too. Here is a supposed recipe for Bill’s signature chili which has been a secret for many years although there have been some replicas produced like at Warren’s Hot Dogs in Greenville.

POSSIBLE RECIPE FOR BILL’S HOT DOGS SIGNATURE CHILI

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 onion
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of texas pete
  • 1/2 tsp of tabasco sauce
  • dash of red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Cut up onion,add water,bring to a boil and add all ingredients,except flour. Cook 5 mins and add flour

— via user, cmidgettec, on RoadFood.com

Even though I had a bad experience at Bill’s Hot dogs, I still suggest that you stop by and try it out for yourself. I may stop by there again when I am in the area and give it another try just because of the large amount of good friends that have told me how much they enjoy those dogs. I don’t want to write it off yet.

Bill's Hotdogs on Urbanspoon

Review: S&Ts Soda Shoppe in Pittsboro

Step Back in Time at the S&Ts Soda Shoppe in Pittsboro

S&Ts Soda Shoppe exterior

Imagine my surprise the first time I entered S&T’s Soda Shoppe in downtown Pittsboro and ordered two scoops of ice cream, thinking I’d be getting literally two scoops of ice cream.  Instead, the woman behind the counter handed me a gigantic bowl of ice cream – big enough to feed a whole family! A double scoop is only $3.50 as well, so if you get some, you might think about sharing! Since then I’ve learned one scoop will be plenty!

inside S&Ts Soda Shoppe

Step back in time when you enter S&Ts Soda Shoppe.

Immediately upon entering this quaint little restaurant, you are drawn back in time. S&T’s once was a pharmacy and the owners have meticulously renovated the shop to look like an old fashioned soda shop from the late 1800s.  Where else can you find such concoctions today as an egg cream or a flavored soda? They also freshly squeeze lemons for lemonade and oranges for oranges for orangeade.

This is the soda shop of my youth. Growing up in the 60’s, you’d go to a soda shop to get a good burger or hotdog, some fries and a soda or a float, and that’s just what you will get at S&T’s. The burgers are a decent size and very easy on the wallet.  There’s a variety of sandwiches, hot dogs and salads. I always come here with ice cream in mind, so my goal is to eat as little as possible so I can save room for dessert! My most recent visit to S&Ts, I decided to get a Cesar salad, which had a nice, rich tasting Cesar dressing. Then, it was on to the selection of one of the many flavors of ice cream. S&Ts also has frozen yogurt and sherbet for those who are watching their weight, but it was no holds barred for me and so I chose the moose tracks, which has big chunks of dark chocolate filled peanut butter and caramel sauce. Yum! I could not resist taking a photo of the boy sitting near me, Preston Richard from Pittsboro, who was thoroughly enjoying his scoop of cotton candy flavored ice cream.

moose tracks scoop of ice cream

This is just "one scoop" of the moose tracks ice cream.

boy eating ice cream

Preston Richard of Pittsboro enjoying the cotton candy flavored ice cream cone.

Gene Oldham opened S&Ts in 1997. It is named after his two sons, Steve and TJ. Many times that I’ve been to the restaurant, TJ is one of the servers, and always greets you with a smile and makes you immediately feel at home.

Pepsi machine at S&Ts

Everything at S&Ts brings back good memories of more innocent times.

Just next door is the Roy Underhill’s Woodwright School. You may have seen him on PBS. So, if you get a scoop of ice cream to go, you can stroll over next door and watch him and his students working on projects. S&T’s Soda Shoppe is located at 85 Hillsboro Street in downtown Pittsboro and is open from 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

REVIEW: Pulliam’s Barbeque – Winston-Salem

You may have already seen the post we did on Pulliams in Winston-Salem and how Rachel Ray Magazine recognized them as the Best Hot Dog in the South. Well, we finally got a chance to try out their dogs and can confirm that they are worthy of that title (even if it is from Rachel Ray).

I jumped in the car with two of my buddies, Ron and Larry, and headed over to Winston-Salem to check out a record store that they heard had a good selection and grab a late lunch. On the trip over, I was selling the hell out of Pulliams because I had been wanting to try that dog ever since another friend, Doug Grimes, had recommended to me that I try it.

The menu at Pulliam’s Barbeque is pretty basic. You can get hot dogs or barbecue. I didn’t try the barbecue but Larry did. He said it was alright especially if you add a little bit Big Ed’s Hot Sauce to it but he didn’t go back for a second one. I was a little thrown off by the fact that they reserve space on their very limited menu for a barbecue sandwich with cheese. That combination just doesn’t sound right…especially in North Carolina. It is a combination that I can’t really fathom anywhere even though I am notorious for throwing cheese on about anything.

They don’t serve french fries like a lot of North Carolina’s infamous hot dog places. You can pick up a bag of chips to go along with it but I wouldn’t waste stomach space on chips because the dogs are so good.

If you are a old-school soda lover, you have just hit a gold-mine. Pulliams has a variety of old-school bottled sodas like Cheerwine, Sun Drop, RC Cola, NuGrape and Nehi in a few different flavors. Pulliams also serves beer and Coke if you aren’t trying to go with a retro dog. However, I like to take things back to my childhood so I grabbed a cold-ass bottle of Cheerwine out of the cooler. Cheerwine in the bottle is truly a North Carolina thing and one of the fondest things I remember about growing up.

One of my favorite things about Pulliams (obviously other than the dogs) was the tree trunk table that they had outside that you could eat it. This is the only table outside so if it is busy you might be out of luck. We got there a little late in the day so it wasn’t busy and we were able to land the stump. It was a beautiful day so sitting outside was perfect (except for a car wash directly next door which was a getting a lot of traffic the day we went).

I think their hot dog very close to  perfection. It is the classic Carolina style with chili, slaw, mustard and onions. Pulliam’s uses the classic North Carolina red dog which isn’t the prettiest wiener in the world but it makes for one helluva hot dog. Before the toppings are added to the dog, Pulliam’s brushes a good amount of butter onto the bun and then toasts it, basically to a char, on the grill before covering it with the classic Carolina toppings. The chili has a nice spice to it and the slaw is cool and crunchy. A lot of people like to add Big Ed’s Hot Sauce to the dog but I decided to stick with the way they normally serve it.

Pulliam’s is a 100-year-old place that is definitely worthwhile taking a road trip for if you are a hot dog lover and should be added on your places to eat in North Carolina. I’ve recently tried a few other legendary hot dog shacks across the state (reviews coming soon) and Pulliam’s is definitely winning so far in my book.

 

REVIEW: Tucker’s Grill – Horneytown

Tucker’s Grill is your token hole-in-the-wall grill in a small town. It serves an early breakfast where all of the regulars stop in and grab a bite before they head to work. They start serving burgers, dogs and fried bologna sandwiches around 11 a.m. and close at 2:30 p.m. Like most hole-in-the-walls, it is closed on Sundays.

Tucker’s Grill is located in Horneytown…cue laughter…, a small town located just outside of High Point. Seriously…I’m not joking. It is actually called Horneytown. I grew up five miles away from there and my parents still live right around the corner. Tucker’s Grill is located about 600 feet away from the Horneytown Fire Department which serves parts of Forsyth County, Guilford County and Davidson County. The government stopped putting up road signs on Horneytown Road because they would get stolen about as quick as they were getting put up.

The menu at Tucker’s is pretty simple and maybe a little too simple. For breakfast, you have a selection of biscuits with options like bacon, sausage, egg, tenderloin and country ham which all under $3.00. The only sides they have for breakfast  are grits and hash browns. For lunch, the menu gets a little bigger with burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheeses, fried bologna sandwiches, corn dogs and chicken sandwiches with fries, tater tots and onion rings on the side. Apparently, they have salads there but I have never seen anyone order them.

The burgers are cooked to order and hand-pattied right in front of you. I think the Carolina-style burger is a little overplayed in the state. Don’t get me wrong…I love a burger with covered in chili, slaw, mustard and onions but I always feel fazed afterward and all that I want to do is take a nap. I think a lot of people forget that some of the small, local places have the freshest lettuce and tomato slices from local farmers which give the burger a flavor profile that is juicy & refreshing and won’t put you in a food coma (a state after eating food where you are completely incapacitated and unable to function). I don’t think that a burger should destroy you every time that you eat it. It

Sorry about the picture. My camera has been having some issues recently and decided to focus on the delicious crinkle-cut fries in the background instead of the burger. The fries aren’t anything special but they are just those classic style that you find at most burger joints.


I was a little disappointed in the hot dog this time. It tasted similar to a gas station dog that I would make myself and the bun wasn’t really soft even after it had been steamed for a few seconds. It must have been an off day for Tucker’s because their dogs are normally pretty damn good. The chili isn’t out of this world. Its similar to the Texas Pete-style that you can get at the grocery store. The actual dog that I had seemed like it had been chilling on the grill a little too long. I guess it was my fault because I went in about 15 minutes before they closed which typically means that you won’t be getting the cream of the crop.

Tucker’s Grill isn’t worth a 30 minute drive but if you are in the area, it is a pretty neat little place with a quick, tasty lunch. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

 

 

REVIEW: Johnson’s Drive-In – Siler City

There is a lot of history behind Johnson’s Drive-In, one of the our state’s most renowned burger joints which has been serving up burgers and fries to loyal customers in Siler City since 1946. There haven’t been that many local burger joints in the state that have been able to stand the test of time against the national chains like McDonald’s, Hardee’s and Burger King plus competing against new chains like Five Guys with similar business models doesn’t help their survival in today’s market.

Since starting Eat It, North Carolina, a lot of my friends have reached out to me about trying new places that they really enjoy. Most of the places are in the city that I live in but a few have been places within about an hour to an hour and a half from Greensboro where I live as well as doing a food weekend in a city or town a few hours away. Russ, a friend of mine from High Point, asked me if I wanted to ride down to Siler City with him when he went for business to try out Johnson’s. We left about 10 a.m. on a weekday and headed down to Siler City.

Johnson’s is open on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. but you don’t want to show up late because they usually sell out of burgers before then. We got there around noon but luckily it was raining so Johnson’s wasn’t slammed like I had read that it would be. We still had to wait 15 to 20 minutes for a table but we were able to take in the atmosphere and observe the culture as we waited.

The menu at Johnson’s Drive-In is simple with burgers and dogs plus a grilled cheese and lettuce & tomato sandwich although I don’t think that the last two are bringing all the patrons through the door. Chili costs $0.30 extra, lettuce costs $0.15 extra and tomato costs $0.35 extra but you don’t feel like you are getting nickel and dimed while you’re there because all of the extras are very fresh and they won’t serve anything that isn’t.

Johnson’s is a place that locals love and you will see Claxton Johnson (above in the red hat) chatting them up. He is a friendly guy that will pretty much anyone that comes in there and will always greet you with a friendly smile. Claxton’s father opened up the restaurant in 1946 and Claxton has been working there since he was a child and knows pretty much everyone in town. He is the only one who cooks the burgers and does them in batches so that he has a chance to catch up with his loyal patrons.

Early each morning, Claxton meets a delivery truck at his restaurant to select that day’s meat. He doesn’t use boxed hamburger meat for his burgers. He handpicks whole sides of grain-fed USDA beef and takes them into the back of the restaurant where they are ground and then pattied into tennis ball-sized mounds and sent up to Claxton at the grill. He smashes the mounds of the never frozen beef into patties on the hot grill and then once they are cooked, he melts a thick slice (1/8″) of Velveeta cheese and then lays on the top half of the bun so they all melt together in an uber-gooey melt. He passes them down the line for topping and then they are served immediately.

I admit this isn’t the best picture that I have taken recently. I had a couple of close-up shots but they all turned out a little blurry and out-of-focus. The cheeseburger on the left was an all-the-way (chili, slaw, mustard, onions) and the cheeseburger on the right had lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo. They were both delicious but when I go back, I am going to stick with the all-the-way burger because the combination of the toppings plus the huge slice of melted Velveeta cheese was incredible.

There isn’t a whole lot going on in Siler City but it is definitely worth the trip there. This is one of the best burgers that I have eaten in North Carolina and will definitely be going back again very, very soon. Let me know if you want to ride. They don’t have a phone at Johnson’s Drive-In so you can’t call and see if they are still serving. I suggest you make it an early lunch at Johnson’s to make sure that you are able to get a burger or two and not be that person who is standing in line for 10 minutes only to be turned away when they run out of meat.

Johnson's Drive-In on Urbanspoon

Pulliam’s in Winston-Salem ranked “Best Hot Dog in the South”

Congratulations to Pulliam’s Barbeque in Winston-Salem because, according to the Winston-Salem Journal, they have been named the best hot dog in the South by Every Day with Rachel Ray Magazine. I have never really been a huge fan of Rachel Ray. Her personality kinds of pisses me off a little bit because she is overly peppy and her catch phrases really grind my gears. However, she does cook a lot with hot dogs with slightly disgusting recipes like Mac and Cheese Dog Casserole and Hot-Dog-a-Bobs so I guess we should consider her somewhat of an expert in this area.

However, she wasn’t actually the one touring the country and tasting the dogs. Every Day with Rachel Ray hired out the job to three bloggers over at SeriousEats.com, one of our favorite foodie sites, to travel the country and find America’s best hot dog. It sounds like an awesome job (which I would gladly accept…hint hint…) but it might be a little while before I wanted to eat a hot dog again…no matter how good it is.

Credit: SeriousEats.com

Pulliam’s specializes in the Southern style dog: mustard, chili, slaw & onions. They serve a classic Southern red dog then grill/char the bun and add a little bit of their homemade hot sauce (optional). If you crack up a bottle of Cheerwine alongside that, it sounds like you’re pretty much in hot dog heaven. The Roast Grill in Raleigh and Pauly Dogs in Durham also made the brackets but got knocked out in the first and second round, respectively.

Thanks to Yarddawg for passing this one along to us! We are going to Pulliam’s Barbeque to give their dogs paired with a bottle of Cheerwine soon so stay tuned for a review in the next month or two.

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Do you feel like your favorite North Carolina hot dog spot got left out? Post a comment below and let us know so we can check it out!

J S Pulliam Barbeque Incorporated on Urbanspoon

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