The people of Akureyri have been keeping a secret from us Capital Region folk. It’s called The Seven. For years now, while driving the four-and-a-half-to-six-hour road trip between the North and South, many northerners have made it common practice to eat one hot dog at each of the seven pit stops between Akureyri and Reykjavík, and they didn’t tell us about it because they think we’re just a bunch of city slicker suckers.
But someone slipped up, let the dog out of the bun and told my friend Hjalti about it right before he went driving up north. He did it. I had my own road trip to the northern capital planned so I figured, what the hell, let’s do this thing. I fucking love hot dogs and eating junk food on the road. I told my road trip mates this would be happening—five people squeezed into a sedan need to be aware of the puking risk—and asked if anyone would join me in the attempt. “No way,” those wimps said. “When Hjalti did it, he felt terrible after.” So what? I’m from North America, a continent covered in all-you-can-eat buffets, unreasonable portions and Guy Fieri. I was born ready.
It’s not so bad!
Now I’m not usually a breakfast person, but oddly enough, I woke up the morning of The Seven excursion ravenously hungry. I knew that if I waited the two hours until my first hot dog I would be full-on hangry (hungry + angry) so I had an egg and toast. This may have been a dumb idea, but I was still excited when our car rolled into the lot at the Ártúnsholt N1 gas station. I was eating my first “eina með öllu” at 9:30 sharp. Within a couple of bites I could already tell this would be the worst one I would have. The bun was overgrilled and dry, the sausage was shriveled and flavourless, and the usually delicious condiments did nothing to compensate for either. Oh well.
At Borganes, the sun was shining, the air was warm, and the N1 was swarming with locals making the Saturday-morning small-talk rounds. I got myself another classic all-dressed hot dog and paired it with some delicious blue Powerade, because of electrolytes and whatnot. I expected this one to be really good, possibly because of the high turnover rate that this station sees, as my backseat-buddy Júlía pointed out. However it was only slightly better than the previous one, but at least the bun and dog were significantly fresher.
What was I thinking?
Peeling out of Borganes, the car kids all started laughing at me because the next stop, Baulan, was supposedly just a few minutes away. They all started taunting me that I’d have to shove another one down in the next three minutes and, caving to peer pressure, I let them make the decision to stop or keep driving. Half an hour later we finally zoomed past the uniquely shaped gas station! “That wasn’t as close as I thought it was,” said my bandmate Biggi. By that point, my stomach had actually made a bit of room and I could have had one, but it was too late. I’d already failed The Seven.
Despite the setback, I rationalised that I would press on with the next four stops and have my Baulan dog on the return trip. By the time we got to the next hot dog stop, Staðarskáli, I was genuinely craving one and it did not disappoint. The bun was warm and just lightly grilled, the clerk offered me a grilled or steamed dog (steamed, takk) and he was nice and generous with both kinds of onions. While snacking, I pointed out the station’s animalsof-Iceland mural and my friend Þórir corrected, “Those are just the animals they put in the hot dogs.” Touché.
By the time we got to Blönduós, I was starting to feel the bread and meat byproducts forming a brick in my stomach. I knew it was time to have a coffee with my hot dog—you know why— and eating it was actually feeling like a chore. When I went to throw away my wrapper the wind whipped it right out of the garbage can and away into nature.
I’ve made a huge mistake
On the way to Varmahlíð, my carmates reached consensus that this would probably be the best hot dog of all because it isn’t a large pre-fab N1 like the other stops and they use Góði instead of SS Pylsur. However, I would not confirm or disprove the theory at this point. As I approached the counter I was distracted by the soft serve ice cream machine. Having already failed at The Seven, I decided it was time to give up altogether. I got myself a chocolate-dipped vanilla cone and we skipped the last stop in Akureyri.
When we arrived at our destination I finally met Áki, the one who had spilled the secret to my friend Hjalti in the first place, and told him that I had tried and failed at the mission. Delighted with my efforts, he finally revealed the truth: The Seven was never some big secret. It was just a joke and like the gullible glutton that I am, I fell for it. We had a good laugh, had some beers and I pooped a whole bunch that night. Final verdict: my friends were right not to join me. I didn’t even have five and I felt terrible. But even if it was all a joke, I would be impressed by anyone who could make it through The Seven. And for the record, I did have hot dogs at Varmahlíð and Baulan on the way back. They were excellent.