King of Kraut at work

Dave Davison (right) works with a small crew before the sun rises to make sure people have kraut to eat for Wiener & Kraut Day.

Dave Davison, while he may not know it, has been deemed the “King of Kraut” by the Waterloo community. He’s the man who makes the other half of Wiener and Kraut Day possible.

Davison worked at Van Holten’s in Waterloo when the opportunity to take over the job of making the kraut opened up.

“The guy that did it quit and they were looking for somebody so I just said, ‘yep, I’ll do it,’ and it snowballed,” Davison said. “That was 40 years ago. I’m still doing it. They needed somebody and nobody wanted to do it, so I just did it. And every year after that. They never even look for anybody anymore.”

According to Davison, Wiener and Kraut Day starts long before the sun shines that day.

“We get down [to Van Holten’s] by 3 in the morning, get everything set up and start cooking because we have 800 pounds of sauerkraut to do,” Davison said.

Davison’s son, Annan, has helped him prepare the kraut for the past 20 years. With some extra help, the two men get an extremely early start to the day in order to finish by the time customers are expecting to enjoy their hot dogs and sauerkraut.

Davison said it takes about two hours to get one batch done. Once the kraut is finished, he fills a cooker with the sauerkraut brine to heat the hot dogs in. This year he is expecting to cook almost 5,000 hot dogs.

But 40 years ago, when Davison had just taken over as the King of Kraut, 5,000 hot dogs was nothing.

“When I started [we made] around 16,000 hot dogs for the event,” Davison said. Obviously, the number has decreased, especially with the concerns of today’s COVID stricken world, but that’s still a crazy amount of hot dogs to cook. It is – and has been – a major process for a major Waterloo event.

“I got an idea they’re going to sell out early,” Davison said. “Since everyone was cooped up last year, they all want to get out and do something.”

Davison is probably right. In light of the absolute emptiness of 2020’s summer, the 61st annual Wiener and Kraut Day is highly anticipated not only in this community, but in surrounding communities. Make sure to experience this exciting event; it’s one nobody in Waterloo would want to miss.

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