Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hoffman's Playland, Dairy Freeze Mini Dogs, The Hate Coaster of Pain, and Other Things

This post is mostly intended as a nostalgia fest for those lucky 'uns who have been reared in the greater Capial Region environs. I don't believe outlanders will ever truly be able to comprehend to what depths memories of Hoffman's Playland have sunk into our murky souls. Hoffman's was the local destination for fun when your parents really didn't feel like putting in the drive time or plunking down the entrance fee for Great Escape (Storyland, double nostalgia booyah for your face! Suck it Six Flags, you ruin everything.)

If you don't know, Hoffman's is a small (2 acres prob.) "amusement park" of sorts located in Latham. There is no entrance fee, you just buy yourself a fist full of tickets and you are good to go.

The wife and I were out in that direction, so we decided to bring the ever growing Giblet to the Playland to stroll about a bit. Hoffman's has a standard smattering of small, county fair type rides mostly oriented towards your 3 to 6 crowd so the Gibble-meister is a little young. But I think I mostly wanted to go to revel in the past a little anyhow. So, here are some observations (of both the park and some nearby hotdogs).

Being adventurous from a young age, I was always a Scrambler man.

Now I will give it to Hoffman's, I have there many good memories of time shared with me sister and Ma'. The place might as well have been Disney World for all I knew at the time. But there was one attraction that left me shivering in fear. Of course, if you ever visited as a child you will know of what I am speaking.

I speak of the "Roller Coaster," it doesn't even have a name! Its fearsome reputation precedes it making flashy names unnecessary. I prefer to refer to this instrument of torture as the Pain Coaster, Hate Coaster, or the Multiple Blows to your Developing Kidneys Coaster. This "ride" was a minute or two of pure, bowel jarring pain accompanied by horrifying sounds of the the creaky construction and screams of other children. I probably haven't been to Hoffman's in 20 years and I didn't ask anybody, but the coaster looked the same as always to me. It was like meeting an old nemesis, I nodded with respect but pulled by daughter close while walking by (she will never ride the old bastard while my blood is warm).

Anyhow, *shudder*, moving on. They opened a Bettie's Cakes next to the Subway at Hoffman's.

It looks like very much like the Saratoga Location, but I fear that the precious cakes might not fair well with the Hoffman's set. We shall see.

Aside from Giblet momentarily fearing being eaten by Humpty Dumpty (with his big creepy upper lip),

we really had a very good bit of family fun. I keep getting all philosophical about young Giblet occupying the same places in space as I did as a child, but that is a discussion for some future rainy day. Anyhow, on to the hot dog oriented blathering. We worked up quite the appetite and decided to mosey over to the adjacent Dairy Freeze for some hot dogs.

Dairy Freeze is your fairly standard (for the area) hot dog/burgers/ice cream/shakes type joint a la Tastee Freeze or Kurver Kreme.

I saw that they had our famous Capital Region mini-dogs and, of course, was honor bound to partake. I got 3 mini dogs with meat sauce and the Missus got 1 "regular" dog. I put regular in quotes as we came to find out that the hot dog meter at Dairy Freeze has two settings, mini and jumbo.

I couldn't figure out the provenance of the mini dogs utilized by Dairy Freeze, they could be Helmbold's, I am not sure.

The little guys came in cut in half normal sized hot dog buns which made me laugh because I just wrote my last post on the availability of mini hot dog buns.

I was not a fan of the meat sauce, it needed a little zip or zest or some other nonsensical food adjective. The Dairy Freeze sauce is a fairly nondescript affair of ground beef and onions simmered in a thin broth. No tomatos which is good, but not enough spice for my tastes. As you know, I am a bonafide Hot Dog Charlie's sauce man myself. But after a few hours at Hoffman's with my beloved little maniac three of these guys more than hit the spot.

As for the wife's selection, I had to make a couple crude and obvious jokes about her wurst before taking pity on her little pregnant heart. I chopped the thing in half lengthwise so that it was a little easier for her to handle. I ate the other half like a boss.

I will say that they Dairy Freeze does a mighty fine chocolate milk shake and the small size is nigh large enough to choke a donkey.

All in all I heartily recommend that everyone who as never been (young 'uns or not) should make a pilgrimage to Latham and visit old Hoffman's, it is a veritable institution in this nook of Upstate America.


  1. I still , to this day, tell people about how traumatic it was to ride that roller coaster. great post!


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