My heart beat a little faster for Martha Stewart recently when she announced that the WindMill hot dog was one of the “best in the country.”

Standing majestically in the costliest studio for daytime talk ever – an assortment of superior hot dogs meticulously arranged on her perfectly veined Carrera marble countertop – Stewart named the WindMill one of her “fourteen favorite hot dogs” in the entire country.

“I can’t pick just one,” said Stewart, with an elegant, giddy smile.  “Out of all the hot dogs we tasted, these fourteen each are very special and very delicious.”

Stewart dedicated the entire one-hour show – peppered with surprisingly naughty double-entendre – to the hot dog.

“The hot dog is this country’s most famous food,” continued Stewart.

While Martha effusively described her love for the WindMill hot dog, topped with Gulden’s mustard and proprietary WindMill sauerkraut – a photo of the restaurant’s landmark wind mill-shaped Long Branch location flashing on the television screen – Steve Levine, chief operating officer and self-proclaimed “hot dog guy,” sat in the front row of the studio audience.

“It was very exciting to be part of the live broadcast of Martha’s show,” said Levine, son of WindMill’s co-founders.  “I know that my parents, co-founders of the restaurant, were proud to see our hot dog on stage with Martha and her friends.”

The extensive search for the best-in-show dogs began weeks ago.

“We were invited in August by one of Martha’s producers to participate in the contest,” said Levine.

Levine was one of the chefs invited to prepare his hot dogs in Stewart’s fully-stacked studio kitchen for the broadcast.

“I told the producer that if I couldn’t be in charge of cooking the hot dogs, we couldn’t participate,” said Levine.  “I set up a WindMill workstation in Martha’s kitchen.”

Stewart’s discovery is not news to many Long Branch area locals.  Since 1964, the WindMill has been serving up the same classic, slow-cooked-on-a-griddle-until-they-crack dogs with fresh-daily rolls.

“I love these hot dogs,” said Maureen Hintelmann of Red Bank, who visits WindMill with her grandchildren every week.  “And everyone is so pleasant.”

Today, there are 10 WindMill locations – including one on Main Street in Ocean Grove – that serve more than 12,000 hot dogs each week.