The Pentagon’s Deadly Hot Dog Stand

November 10, 2021

The hot dog stand that was once in the middle of the Pentagon.
Possibly the most dangerous hot dog stand in America at one time

In the center of the Pentagon, up until 2006, stood an unassuming building–a hot dog stand. But did this eatery house a secret underground bunker, or did it just serve hot dogs? The Soviets may have thought it wasn’t just a place to eat.

The hot dog stand in question sat outside in the middle of the 5-acre courtyard of the Pentagon. It was torn down in 2006 to make way for a new $1.2 million eating establishment, but there has been a longstanding legend surrounding the old lunch spot. During the Cold War, the Russians reportedly had no less than two missiles aimed directly at the hot dog stand at all times. They thought it might be a secret underground meeting room, and the Pentagon was a fortress built around it.

But how could they possibly think this, you may ask? It might have been because of satellite imagery. The Soviets would have seen military officers going in and out of the building around noon each day. Unbeknownst to them, however, the officers were only going there to eat lunch. The rumor was so ingrained at the building that it was even told by the Pentagon’s official tour guides. Because of this notoriety, the cafe earned the nickname “Cafe Ground Zero.”

Satellite picture of the hot dog stand that was once in the middle of the Pentagon.
The hot dog stand was right in the middle

So this hot dog stand, that also served hamburgers, was reportedly the first place the Russians would have shot nuclear missiles to wipe out the United States military headquarters and what they thought was a secret underground bunker.

The Russians have never confirmed this actually took place, but why would they if they had? This might be another Cold War rumor, but the Russians could have been targeting a hot dog stand. It stands to reason that the Russians would have been targeting the Pentagon anyway, but they might have gotten the part about an underground bunker being there wrong. I guess we’ll never really know for sure, but it sure makes for a good story.

Sources: US Dept of Defense, Air Force

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of great trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium. I hope you find things here to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

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