Like many middle-schoolers, Mason Wright is into video games and science. But one particular after-school activity sets Wright apart from his peers. For more than two years, the 13-year-old from Lithonia has operated a street vending hot dog stand, Mason’s Super Dogs, which specializes in handcrafted hot dogs (he uses quarter-pound, all-beef Nathan’s dogs) and French fries.
Wright got the idea for Mason’s Super Dogs while on a trip to New York with his parents. After seeing so many hot dog stands in action, he felt that Atlanta could use one, and that he could launch enough to buy a few science kits. His mother encouraged him to save his allowance—but Wright suspected that would take too much time. Instead, he earned money washing cars, walking dogs, and mowing lawns, and got a loan of $1200 from his grandfather.
Wright began selling his hot dogs at birthday parties and festivals before landing a once-a-week-spot at Morehouse College, where his biggest seller is a chopped chicken hot dog. He just celebrated a year of service at Morehouse College. He now runs the business with the help of his older sister and a few Morehouse students who mentor him. Mason’s Super Dogs also offers vegan options, topped with homemade goodies such as sweet onion relish or Hawaiian pineapple relish. His menu, tested and approved by his cousins and friends, includes a Philly cheesesteak-inspired hot dog, a classic chili-cheese dog, and a meatball hot dog served on a French bread bun. His favorite is the pizza hot dog with pepperoni, mozzarella, and his own secret sauce. Fans can even learn how to make his sweet onion and Hawaiian pineapple relishes by watching a tutorial video on Mason’s Super Dogs website. “I know some of you might go insane about me mixing the peppers and the onions, but don’t worry. Mixing them will give it an absolute kick. It’ll knock your taste buds out,” he says in the video.
Currently, he’s looking for ways to make his business a “purple cow”—meaning one that stands out from the crowd. He hopes to expand Mason’s Super Dogs to a fleet of food trucks—and, further down the road, would like to own a chain of restaurants. However, his immediate goal is to serve as an example to teenagers like him—and the one who doubted him. He speaks at schools teaching other kids about starting a business. In May, he spoke at an young entrepreneurial boot camp.
“I want other kids that tease me to see it was all worth it,” he says. “I did not have to join a gang or take from other people to have nice things. I worked for it and gave other young people like me a chance.”