Thursday, July 18, 2013

Celebrate National Hot Dog Day - 07/23/2013

The foot long, frank, frankfurter, grandstander, hotshot, pigs in a blanket, red-hot, sausage, showboat, tube steak, weenie, weener, weener wrap, and wienerwurst are all words which have been used to refer to this bread encased sausage of pork and/or beef trimmings.

National Hot Dog Day is Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013.  Thus, it's the perfect time to examine this epicurean staple of childhood & summer time.

Little is known, or at least agreed upon, when it comes to the origin of the hot dog.  Most people can generally agree that the pork sausage known as the frankfurter can be traced back the 13th century Frankfurt, Germany.   When and how the bun was added is less clear.

The most popular theory attributes credit to German immigrant Charles Feltman for first selling sausages in rolls out of his Coney Island eatery in 1870.

Others maintain Mrs. Feuchtwanger, of St. Louis, invented the sausage on a bun in 1880, to keep her customers from burning their hands on her German husband's, Antonoine's, sausages.

Still, some believe Anton Ludwig Feuchtwanger, a Bavarian sausage seller, first served sausages in rolls at the World's Fair in 1893.

There will likely never be complete agreement the origin of this classic sandwich.  We do know, from FDR's home movies, that  as late as 1939 hot dogs were served perched on top of a bun, rather than nestled inside of the bun.  Whether, or not, this perching is a clue to the sandwich's inception remains unclear though.

What IS clear is that the hot dog is one of the most popular sandwiches in America.
  • During a typical summer, Americans will consume a total of 7 billion hot dogs. That's 818 hot dogs per second*.
  • It’s estimated that baseball fans will consume more than 26 million hot dogs at US baseball stadiums this season**.
  • Mustard is the most popular hot dog topping among adults at 87.6%. Among kids, it’s the sweeter condiment, tomato ketchup***.
  • More hot dogs are eaten in Los Angeles (over 95 million) than anywhere else in the country, besting Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York City*.
  • Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, the nation's most famous competitive eating contest, takes place each year on the 4th of July in Coney Island***.
Rivaled only by hamburgers in their versatility, hot dogs can be topped with ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, hot sauce, chile con carne, Coney Island sauce. jalapeno poppers, sauerkraut, onions, mayonnaise, corn chips, cucumbers, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and/or bacon.  Unlike hamburgers though, which are pretty much hamburgers or cheeseburgers despite one's choice of toppings, toppings can define a hot dog  as a specific dish.

An all-beef hot dog topped with mustard, fresh tomatoes, onions, sport peppers, bright green relish, dill pickles, and celery salt, (but no ketchup) is a Chicago Dog.

The signature Fenway Park Dog is a grilled dog served on a New England-style bun, covered with ketchup and relish

New York Street Dogs are boiled hot dogs on soft buns with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard.

Chili Dogs are hot dogs topped with chili which would otherwise be eaten from a bowl.  Shredded cheese, chopped onion, and jalapeno slices are optional.

A Frito Dog is a variation of the Chili Dog consisting of a Nathan's hot dog topped with chili, shredded cheese, and Fritos corn chips.

Coney Island Dogs  are like Chili Dogs except the Coney Island chili-like sauce  is a bit thinner than chili which would be eaten from a bowl.  The same shredded cheese, chopped onion, and jalapeno slices are dogs

As for me, I like fry or grill (not boil or nuke) a hot dog with a natural casing which gives the dog a firm texture and "snap" that releases juices and flavor when the dog is bitten into. I coat the inside of a hot dog bun with a mixture of 2 parts yellow mustard to 3 parts mayonnaise, so I get the tang of the mustard without the vinegary bite.  Then I lay the hot dog inside the bun and top with sweet pickle relish, chopped onions, and 3 slices of pickled jalapeno.

The result gives me the crisp juicy taste  of the meaty frank, with the tang of mustard, sweetness of the relish, subtle heat of the onion, and spiciness of the peppers.

Of course, this is just how I like my hot dog.  There are thousands of possible topping variations, limited only by the imagination and appetite of the eater.  How do you like your hot dog?
* National Hot Dog & Sausage Council|


  1. Yum. I like mine with tang and a little sweetness (a tiny bit of sweet relish) and definitely sauerkraut (easy going down but man do I pay the price later). Will try the jalapenos for a "kick".

    1. Kraut's a great way to go too, especially around Oktober Fest. Right on!