Drivers are drawn to the Nokian Autogrille in Nokia, Finland, by two things: its bright neon lights and its sausages housed in fluffy, sugary doughnuts. The roadside stand serves up plenty of the local specialty, known as kuuma koira, wrapped in greasy paper and topped with a house-made mustard.
Kuuma koira has been a favorite at Nokia’s fast-food kiosks since the 1960s, when Teodor Leppänen invented the dish. According to lore, the thrifty restaurant owner was faced with a surplus of apple jelly doughnuts and steamed sausages, so he combined the two ingredients to create a sweet, savory, slightly sour dish. A little dash of ketchup and mustard, and it was ready to go. Other local fast-food spots soon adopted the snack, and it became a staple of the local fast food scene.
Kuuma koira means “hot dog” in Finnish, but this is very different cuisine than the traditional hot dog. The sugary jelly doughnut combined with the salty, meaty steamed sausage makes it a unique treat. Nowadays, the apple jelly doughnuts from the original recipe are usually replaced with plain, sugar-dusted doughnuts, with the addition of some chopped onions and pickle relish. The dog is best enjoyed straight from its paper wrapper and washed down with milk.
After 50 years, kuuma koira still enjoys a steady success around Nokia and the neighboring city of Tampere. It has experienced a renaissance during the last decade, heralded by Kuuma Koira Day. Typically celebrated on the third Friday of March, the event encourages sausage appreciation for eaters all over the region.
Need to Know
You'll often find kuuma koira at drive-up fast-food kiosks.
Where to Try It
This roadside stand has been around since 2012, with its trademark bright neon signs and its renowned kuuma koira. Guests can enjoy it at the outdoor tables.
This small roadside kiosk offers up plenty of grilled fare, including Nokia's famous sausages.