|Who is this Charley guy anyway?|
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Hot Dog Vendor to Mustard Mogul
Detroit’s own Singing Hot Dog Man creates new enterprise in tough times
“There is no ketchup in baseball! ™” Charley Marcuse, The Singing Hot Dog Man, is known to proclaim this phrase many times while vending his franks during Detroit Tigers games. He is a firm supporter of the classic American tradition that Dirty Harry put best: “Nobody, but nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog!” This attitude led Charley to create what he thinks is the finest mustard around, perfect for hot dogs and any other dish that needs a little zip.
In 1999 Charley began vending hot dogs at historic Tiger Stadium. The commission job kept him innovating and trying to find ways to use his very loud voice and dramatic nature to advertise and encourage fans to buy from him. Later that summer when Luciano Pavarotti and the Three Tenors came to town for a concert at the stadium, inspiration struck. Charley donned a tailcoat and bow tie over his uniform and he sang out in an operatic HHHHoooOOoooootttttttt DDoooOOoooogggsss as he sold franks before the performance and during the intermission. The “singing” was a hit and it has been a staple at Tigers’ games ever since (now at Comerica Park). Charley’s salesmanship has even received national recognition. In 2006, in an on-field ceremony, he was declared the winner and “Higher Authority Hawker” by Hebrew National after a country wide competition.
After three years of experimentation, Charley finally unveiled the perfect mustard recipe in June 2008, in a limited number of stores. It was an instant success and sales have grown steadily. The product is now carried by over sixty retailers from regional gourmet chains like Papa Joe’s, Westborn, Nino Salvaggio, and Busch’s to local stores like the furniture and gift emporium Leon and Lulu’s, where it is the official mustard and the owner Mary Liz Curtin has been quoted as saying; “We will serve no other mustard, sell no other mustard and, quite possibly never taste another mustard.” Charley’s Ballpark Mustard is also served in over half a dozen restaurants from diners and delis to a white table cloth bistro. It is also available to Detroit Lions fans at every home game at Ford Field.
As if mustard and hot dogs were not enough, Charley is also in the clothing business full time. For almost twelve years he has worked at The Claymore Shop, a prestigious men’s clothier in Birmingham. The Claymore Shop is, incidentally, Charley’s best retail outlet with over 700 bottles sold.
Charley shot to national awareness in 2004 when the Tigers banned him from singing. The strong fan backlash and ensuing media storm saw the story covered by a variety of press outlets worldwide. Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CNN, and numerous newspapers all carried it and Charley was interviewed by everyone from Dick Purtan to the BBC. He even appeared on Good Morning America at the height of the controversy. Eventually a compromise was reached: to this day Charley’s singing is severely restricted - even though fans would like to hear him sing more often.