If you’ve been to a Northwest snowboard event, or you’ve been lucky enough to go to snowboard camp at Mt. Hood, then chances are you’ve indulged in a Cobra Dog. Who would have thought snowboarding and hot dogs would go so well together? Cory Grove, that’s who! A former photographer, team manager, Cory can now be found inside the Cobra Dogs trailer, serving up delicious tubular meat to hungry snowboarders. So you have to wonder, how does he make it happen? YoBeat set out to find out.
YoBeat: So when we met, you were a photographer. How did you go from that, to hot dog sales? Were you really that bad at shooting photos?
Cory Grove: Yeahhhh. Right. Well, I don’t want to toot my own horn right off the bat here but my first ever photo published was a Transworld Snowboarding cover. TOOT TOOT, beeeyatch. One of TWO COVERS I might add. I hate you. No but seriously, I just got super burnt pretty fast on the politics of the industry. It was at that point where it was just becoming a very serious business and it was totally ruining everything I loved about it, and my only option to save myself from getting burnt out was getting out of it. With hotdogs I have no competition or standard to follow. It’s amazing!
YB: Why even bother to hang around the snowboard industry?
CG: Well, as kooky as it can get, snowboarding has given me an amazing life, amazing adventures, tons of free booze, and really great friends.
YB: Where did you come up with the name Cobra Dogs?
CG: Well, shit, I always kinda flounder on that question. I really don’t know, I think me and Jesse Grandkoski (who I started it with) just made of list of things we think are cool. Snakes made the short list and then it went to different kinds of snakes. Cobra won in the final match. I honestly think it was the first time I smoked pot since high school. We may or may not have been stoned.
YB: What’s in Cobra Sauce? How was it invented?
CG: Well that main ingredient is ketchup. Mixed with a very precise ratio of mayo, rooster sauce and a couple others I can’t talk about.Â Again, may or may not have been stoned.
YB: Do you really hate ketchup?
CG: Oh hells yes. The devil. When I make the cobra sauce or am filling the ketchup bottles I throw up in my mouth. I hate tomatoes in general. Always have, always will. In Chicago if you ask for ketchup they will punch you in the face. I might start doing that. The worst is when I see someone put it on eggs. Oh god. Let’s just move on here. Sore subject.
YB: Ok, are you getting rich off hot dogs?
CG: Shit no. It’s expensive to run with rent, utilities, overhead, and we use really good quality dogs from a local company so I pay a lot more than I would at Costco or something. But I would rather have good food that I can stand behind then some shitty Oscar Meyer weens. I don’t need much to be happy. I am not motivated by money. I live a very basic lifestyle. I don’t buy dumb shit, nice cars, I have never owned a TV or any crazy game console, and I have never had a credit card. 95% of stuff in my apartment I either made myself or bought at a thrift store. I also eat at home and get most of my food from farmers markets. I have friends with assloads of money and it seems like it’s more stress than it’s worth. Mo money, mo problems. As long as I have coffee, family, and Wittlake’s porch I am good to go. My only vice is bikes. I spend too much money on them.
A man, and his Field Notes. Photo Geery.
YB: What is it like being poor and hanging out with a bunch of people who’ve totally cashed in on snowboarding?
CG: Again, I see people with money and they seem way more stressed. My poor friends are never jealous of our rich friends but our rich friends are super jealous of each other. It’s a motivator to stay poor. Not all are like that though and it can have its advantages. I do like seeing some people cash in. Peter Line for instance. I love traveling with him and seeing the looks on peoples faces when 2 dudes that have not showered in some time and looking totally haggard step out of an Escalade. Priceless. I also have 2 friends that I grew up with that went on to Jackass fame and make more money than a pro snowboarder. That’s amazing to me. Getting paid to just do really dumb shit. I love it.
YB: So, elephant in the room. How do you think the industry will react to finding out you are fathering a lesbian love child?
CG: The people that know me will understand. And if I ever start caring what the industry thinks I am hanging up my apron.
YB: How did you end up being chosen to father your friend’s child? If I were a lesbian, I would definitely want someone taller, with a better job that hot dog sales. Just saying…
CG: I know right? That’s what I would think as well, but I am not asking questions. It’s a dream come true for me. I like kids but I like them for about 2 hours and then I want to clock out so this is perfect for me. I mean, I will probably spoil the shit out of it, but I can just go home later and surf the Internet or play Jenga with some bros.
YB: Was it weird having sex with a lesbian?
CG: Whoa dude. This is at least a couple years away but it has been seriously talked about for a while. I even ran it by my mom and she was stoked. So yeah, I am not a father of a lesbian love child yet. I am just the designated boner donor for the future.
Would you let this man father your child? photo: Geery
YB: Well on a similar note, do you think it will be anything like hugging Andy Forgash?
CG: Nothing will ever compare to that. NOTHING. I can’t even explain it, but I told someone the other day that was like watching a dolphin being born. A perfect combination of gross, and beautiful.
YB: Are you concerned about the Swine Flu pandemic and how it will affect Cobra Dogs business?
CG: Pig Pox? Yes and no. People are tripping balls about it and getting wayyy too worked up. But if they have even a speck of brain they would know that you can’t get it from eating pork. Besides, our main dog (the All Beef Boa) is all beef. I also just read a story that in Canada a farmer gave swine flu to a pig. NO JOKE. How is that for irony?
YB: So you can’t get Hamthrax from eating pork?
CG: HOLY SHIT! Can I use that? Ryan (the marketing dude at Volcom) said I should have a “swine flue” combo meal. Maybe Hamthrax can be a new sauce?
YB: I think i stole Hamthrax from the Vegans, but yeah, all yours. If pig pox doesn’t put you out of business, any plans to expand?
CG: Yep. I am actually looking at spots now here in Portland and talks could get serious about one at a rad little ski hill in Washington. I told myself I would not do any kind of expansion for 5 years from starting the biz to see if I still liked it and just so I had everything dialed in and wasn’t jumping the gun. This is my 5th year and I am 100% in love with the brand and am totally married to it. I am probably more exited about the brand now than ever. I really do love everything about it and taking on a challenge is rad and scary at the same time. I think we started with $700 and to see it grow and take on new things will be amazing. It’s full steam starting now.
YB: Don’t you get sick of being at summer camp?
CG: I used to. I work 13-hour days for 2 months straight so it has a burn out factor for sure. But 2 years ago I had that moment of realizing how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing and now I look forward to it. It also helps to see kids that are so stoked on snowboarding. I love it and it keeps me going seeing the passion that they have for the sport and the pros. It’s why I started snowboarding and it’s why I still do. And you also have people like Preston Strout (part owner and camp director of High Cascade) who works 18 times harder than anyone else and is still happy as a clam. I’m also really serious about dodge ball so that keeps me going.
YB: What’s awesome about camp? Why should people spend their money to get their money to get their kids there in these tough economic times?
CG: Well, dodge ball. Also, this kinda goes back to living within your means that I was talking about. If you want something you can make it happen. You might just have to cut down on buying cool new shoes and nice things. The economy is bad but it’s also (like swine flu) hyped a little too hard. If their parents can’t afford to send them to camp they will mow lawns. Kids that have been to camp before will go back and probably do anything they can to go back. It is also very important to support small companies like Cobra Dogs and Volcano Cones that are there because they love what they do.Â I can’t stress that enough. I go out of my way to get everything from local companies from our hotdogs to small things like business cards. I also grew up with a single mom that didn’t make much money. I worked a landscaping job and ate Little Caesars Pizza at the same time to buy snowboard gear. Little hard work won’t kill yah. Suck it up, brats!
YB: What is your relationship with Aaron Draplin? Is he the coolest human being alive, and why?
CG: Draplin does all my design work and designed the new logo. He is in fact a total fucking badass and one of the best people I know. A freedom fighter. He makes me proud to be alive and to be lucky to live in this fine country and have what I have. He is fighting the good fight and we need more people like him. Let’s be honest, he also owns 4% of Cobra Dogs because I can’t afford to pay him.
YB: Since you’ve been involved in snowboarding for at least 35 years, what are you thoughts on the current state of the sport?
CG: Eat it, Brooke. I’m not that old. Oh god. I have to find out how to answer this without writing a book. Wow, ok. Here we go… Snowboarding right now I think is in a very vulnerable phase of its growth. This is one good thing about a shitty economy is that smaller companies are prospering and the bigger ski companies are really getting a reality check. I think that has a lot to do with smaller companies that started with basically nothing already know that they have to be frugal and be more creative with marketing instead of just throwing dollars at big name riders and calling it good. Seriously. I can’t even get going on this subject because I would bore you to death. Let’s end it with….. support small companies and shops. They are VERY important to this sport.
YB: So hot dogs and snowboarding are important to you, but what do you do for fun?
CG: Pretty much just work on and ride bikes. It’s not uncommon for me to build a bike and sell it right away just so I can build another one. If I didn’t have Cobra Dogs I would probably work at or own a bike shop. A bike shop with a coffee shop inside of it. I race bikes as well. What else, hmmm, I still really like shooting pictures. Mostly of just random stuff like cats and bums.
YB: Riding bikes huh? Was that you I saw speed past the office in Spandex the other day? How can you feel good about wearing that stuff?
CG: Yeahhhhh. That’s a hard one. First of all it’s called MANdex. I really try to keep it stealth and have nobody see me but this town is small. It is usually just fat people that make fun of me and I have a comeback for that. But I race with Louie Fountain and he shows up to the race in cut-off Dickies and a T-Shirt and smokes everyone so it kinda nulls my spandex argument, so I just came up with this new one….. It’s kinda like snowboarding. You could wear jeans snowboarding (and some do) but you are way better off wearing really stupid looking full print patterns and bandanas that keep you warm, right? In bike racing you don’t look funny in spandex to another biker, but to the average joe you do. With snowboarding you don’t look like a complete tool with a bandanna and huge gortex jacket to another snowboarder but to the average joe you do. Suck it, Brooke. I hate that you even brought this up. NEXT QUESTION.
Snowboarding, iPhoning and hot dogs. Serious business. photo: Geery
YB: Fine, let’s get serious, how do you think Obama has done on his first 100 days in office?
CG: This is another one that can get really long and boring because once I get started you will want to punch me in the face. I am so burnt out on politics on a national level right now and am trying to focus all of that on local issues in Portland. Let’s just say that I have never had more faith in this country than I do now. I was really happy for Obama to win but more stoked on America electing a young black man by the name of Barack Hussein Obama. It gives me faith. George Bush was such a fucking buzz kill and lots of people lost hope in America. If you would have told me 2 years ago that Barack Hussein Obama was going to be president I would have said you are on acid. I would have also said that about me wearing spandex. America is truly a great place.
YB: What’s one thing you would like to see him accomplish in his term (and how will it benefit snowboarding)?
CG: Health care. It blows my mind that we call ourselves a civilized nation and we don’t have that for at least our kids. People have talked the talk on it and I hope he is not just doing that. As for snowboarding……. I hope he makes it law that you can’t get sponsored unless you can do a decent method.
YB: What’s it like living in PDX, and why haven’t you left?
Well, I was born on the Oregon coast in a little fishing town Astoria. You know, GOONIES, Kindergarden Cop. NBD.Â Raised in Portland. I love it. It’s a very liberal place as far as you can have the craziest business, idea, whatever and people don’t look at you funny or judge you nearly as hard as you would get judged somewhere else. The cost of living is cheap. Tons of farmers markets, bikes, nice people, and just in general a very sustainable place to live. I have traveled the world over and this place still blows my mind every day. However, It could do without the beard/mustache/moped/motorcycle/fixed gear craze. And I hate to say it but the girls here are don’t like you unless you have one of those mentioned or you are in a rock band.
YB: Do you think it’s weird that Portland is the new industry cool?
CG: Not really. It is kinda annoying when people move here from (just as an example) Colorado, or California and they talk about how much better it is there than Hood or Portland. I love that when you can just say, “no it’s not, you wouldn’t live here if it wasn’t better there.” BAM, argument won!Â As far as companies being here, I’m totally cool with it. Most of the companies here are pretty rad. I have no problem with anyone bringing creativity and jobs here. It’s actually a really nice thing to have just for the sake of getting free stuff. If I want a new ninja suite I just go to Airblaster and Holden if I need a new jacket. I just lurk in the office till they get sick of me and give me what I want so I will leave. I have been perfecting this system for years. Sometimes I will just “randomly” happen to show up at Bonfire when it’s lunchtime and 9 times out of 10 I will get free lunch out of it.Â And where else would you have an office (yobeat) above a vegan bakery and vegan grocery store doing an interview about hotdogs? YES! Hitler was a vegetarian you know. Just sayin.