Today in 2006, the Pentagon announced it would tear down a fascinating piece of Cold War history: a hot dog stand.

It sounds funny now to think that a place serving hot dogs and other lunch items could end up at the center of so much intrigue, but that’s how it played out back in the 1980s.

That’s when the Pentagon put up a new lunch stand in its outdoor courtyard, the space in the middle of the famous five-sided building.

The Soviets were watching the headquarters of the US military as much as possible, but most of what went on there happened indoors.

That meant the Communists spent a lot of time watching this little building in the middle of everything where lots and lots of people seemed to go, often in groups at specific times of day.

They figured this must be a really important outpost to get all of that traffic, maybe even the entrance for an underground bunker.

As Now I Know reported, there was a long-running rumor that Moscow had several missiles pointed at the structure at all times, so they could take it out right away if World War III started.

But it wasn’t a military planning room or a high-level control center.

All those military people went there not because they were plotting against their foes, it was because they were hungry!

So when the Americans heard about the rumor, they nicknamed the place Cafe Ground Zero.

The military announced in 2006 that it would tear the hot dog place down to make room for a bigger lunch place, with more seating and more options.

Or maybe that’s what they want everybody to think.

Starting tomorrow in Benson, North Carolina, it’s Benson Mule Days.

In addition to music, food and rides, there’s a mule parade, because, as the organizers say, mules deserve to have a day where they’re the star too!

The Cold War’s Most Important Hot Dog Stand (Now I Know)

Benson Mule Days

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Photo by Steven Donald Smith via US DoD