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July is National Hot Dog Month. Americans will consume an estimated seven billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. However, the biggest hot dog day of the year is the fourth of July, when a reported 150 million of the franks are eaten. On average, one person alone devours up to sixty hot dogs per year. In 2022, Americans spent more than $8.3 billion on hot dogs in grocery stores. Los Angeles rates number one in consumption, its residents taking in 30 million pounds of frankfurters in 2022 alone.


The United States Chamber of Commerce officially designated July as National Hot Dog Month in 1957. The tradition has been going strong ever since.


July is National Hot Dog Month


Hot dogs are vastly underrated. There are many ways in which to prepare dogs. Nowadays they are also made with different variations of meat: beef, and mixes of pork, chicken and turkey. Depending on your degree of hot-dog-expertise, this universal bite is also known as wieners, dogs, red hots, franks or frankfurters.


I like a plain hot dog, preferably made with pork and chicken, on a bun with little or no ketchup. On the other hand, some people like their dogs loaded with a variety of condiments. Depending on where you live, there are also a variety of "specialty" dogs.


Article Contents:

A Bit of History

How Are Hot Dogs Made?

Types of Dogs, Cooking & Condiments

Hot Dogs & Health

Hot Dogs Around the World

Hot Dog Etiquette


Hot Dog Links

Credits & Terms of Use


A Bit of History

There is a bit of disagreement in history as to where and when hot dogs originated. Natives in Frankfurtum-Main, Germany claim they discovered the hot dog in 1487. Then again, others argue it was created in the late 1600's by Johann Georghehner, a butcher from Coburg who is said to have traveled to Frankfurt to promote his new product known as a "little dog" sausage. The town of Vienna, Austria also claims to have invented the hot dog.


Weinerwurst was the original name of the "wiener" (which translates from German into Vienna sausage). Another German reference to the food was bundewurst, which was dog sausage, or smoked sausage. By the 1920's, weenie roasts had become a favorite pastime, with guests often bringing their own hot dogs to roast over an open fire. Oscar Mayer had the first portable hot dog cart in 1936, calling it the Wienermobile.


Eating the hot dog in a warmed bread bun with various condiments is credited to Charles Feltman of Feltman's Gardens in the Coney Island amusement park. He opened the first "hot dog" stand in 1871, which were known as "dachshunds" at the time. Feltman sold 3,684 of the dogs wrapped in milk buns his first year of business. Corn dogs were introduced by Texan native Neil Fletcher at the Texas State Fair in 1942.


Hot dog stand in New York City (1906), when hot dogs were priced at 3-cents each.

(Above): Hot dog stand in New York City (1906), when hot dogs were priced at 3-cents each.


The actual term hot dog is attributed to sports cartoonist T.A. Dorgan. He was present at the Polo Grounds in New York during a 1901 baseball game and heard vendors yelling "Get your dachshund dogs while they're red hot!" Dorgan sketched a cartoon depicting the scene, but was unsure how to spell "dachshund." Instead, he simply used the term "hot dogs." Later, Dorgan's "sausage" cartoons maligned the inexpensive wieners sold at Coney Island, hinting they contained dog meat. The publicity was so ferocious in 1913 that the Chamber of Commerce banned the use of the term hot dog from signs at Coney Island. The term first appeared in the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1900.


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How Are Hot Dogs Made? (Or Do You Really Want To Know?)

There have been many stories about the meat origins of hot dogs, some of them none-too-appetizing. Years ago someone told me hot dogs and bolognas were made with various body parts from horses, which naturally turned my stomach. In reality, selected meat trimmings of beef and/or pork are cut and ground into small pieces and placed into a mixer. In the event "chicken" hot dogs are being made, poultry trimmings are used.


Stainless steel choppers blend the meat, spices, ice chips and curing ingredients at a high speed until they are emulsified, or reach the consistency of batter. The mixture is weighed constantly to ensure a proper balance of all ingredients. It is then pumped into an automatic linker machine, where it flows into casings. Most hot dogs are made using cellulose casings later removed, while other producers use natural casings made from animal intestines, which remain on the hot dog when it is finally eaten. Once the casings are filled, they are linked into long strands of hot dogs and fully cooked in a smokehouse. After the cooking process, the hot dogs are sprayed with cool water. If made with cellulose casing, the hot dogs are then placed on an automatic peeler, where the skin is stripped away.


Tray of hot dogsIndividual links are then vacuum-packed in plastic films to protect freshness and flavor. Each package will contain an "ingredient" statement, which lists contents in the product. It is now less common to use "variety" meats such as beef and pork hearts in hot dogs, but if they are used, the label should be clearly marked with the term "made using variety meats" or a similar statement. The manufacturing of hot dogs is also closely regulated and inspected for wholesomeness by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • Beef (contains only beef with no soybean or dry milk fillers).

  • Kosher (all-beef, seasoned with garlic).

  • Meat (a mix of pork and beef, no fillers).

  • Frankfurter (can contain a percent of fillers made from a combination of meats).


Types of Dogs, Cooking & Condiments

  • Baltimore Frizzled (split and deep fried).

  • Chicago Dogs (with yellow mustard, dark green relish, chopped raw onions, tomato slices, celery salt and a poppy-seed bun).

  • Chili Dogs (cooked hot dogs smothered with chili and onions).

  • Coney Island Dogs (topped with a spicy meat sauce).

  • Corn Dogs (hot dogs on a stick dipped in corn batter and deep fried).

  • Kansas City Dogs (with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese on a sesame seed bun).

  • Lillies (cocktail-sized wieners served with sauce).

  • Montreal Hot Dogs (Quebec specialty with coleslaw, mustard and onion; also known as "Steamies").

  • New York City Dogs (with steamed onions and a pale yellow mustard sauce).

  • Pigs-in-a-Blanket (wrapped in pastry and baked).

  • Potato Hot Dogs (topped with mashed potatoes and American cheese).

  • Southern Slaw Dogs (with coleslaw).

  • Tex-Mex Dogs (with salsa, Monterey Jack cheese and chopped jalapeno peppers).

  • Vienna Sausage (mini-hot dogs in a flavored juice).

Hot dogs are typically fully cooked when packaged, but in America it is customary to warm them first before eating. The flavor of the dogs improves a great deal upon "warming." Favorite cooking methods include boiled, broiled, braised, baked, grilled, fried, and steamed in beer or other liquids.


Anyone who likes hot dogs has a preference of condiments. "Dressing" the dog is solely up to the individual, but the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council recommends the following order for condiment "application": wet (mustard or ketchup), chunky (relish, onions or salsa) and lastly cheese, with spices if desired. Some children are known to like chocolate on their dogs as well.


And remember: Dress the dog and not the bun! This is firmly reiterated in Hot Dog Etiquette.


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Hot Dogs and Health

The majority of hot dogs are high in fat. Almost all contain sodium nitrite, a chemical salt used as a preservative and flavor enhancer, which some researchers claim are carcinogens. Some consumers allege other health problems, such as sudden drops in blood pressure. However, those who are serious about their fat intake can select from a variety of low-fat and fat-free wieners, or switch to vegetarian tofu franks.


Chicken or turkey dogs are not always lower in fat, so be sure to check the nutritional information on the package. Surprisingly, however, hot dogs can also be good sources of vitamins, minerals and protein including iron, zinc, niacin, riboflavin and B vitamins.



Hot Dogs Around the World

The American hot dog now enjoys worldwide popularity. In Russia, hot dogs are known as sosiska. Just a few years ago, hot dog sales in Russia totaled more than $70 million. Russians prefer spicy dogs, often made with large amounts of garlic. In China, hot dogs are called Rouchang. They are served fully cooked although cold, wrapped in red plastic. Chinese dogs are eaten in similar fashion to a popsicle: the red wrapping slowly peels away as the dog is consumed.


In other countries, the hot dog is also known as:

  • Perrito Caliente (Spain)

  • Caldo Cane (Italian)*

  • Hot Diggity Dog!Chien Chaud (France)

  • Heisser Hund or Wurst (Germany)

  • Cachorro Quento (Portugal)

  • Korv or Varmkorv (Sweden)

  • Grillpolser (Norway and Denmark)

  • Park v Rohliku (Czechoslovakia)

  • Worstjes (Dutch)

  • Makkarat (Finland)

*Note: According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, the Italian name for hot dog is "caldo cane." However, I recently received a message from a reader who stated no one in Italy says "caldo cane" as it is used for word translation and in literal terms means something similar to a "warm pet." Italians do not translate the word. It is merely said as "hot dog" (in the plural and singular; it is invariable) or "otdog" because the "H" pronunciation is silent. Thanks to Marco for the information and the direct quote.


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Hot Dog Etiquette

The following etiquette applies to the "art" of eating a hot dog per the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council:

  • Hot Dog EtiquetteCondiments remaining on the fingers after eating a hot dog should be licked away, not washed. Eat hot dogs on buns with your hands. Utensils should never touch hot dog buns.

  • Use paper plates to serve hot dogs - china plates are forbidden.

  • Do not leave bits of bun on your paper plate - eat it all!

  • Do not use a cloth napkin to wipe your mouth when eating a hot dog. Paper napkins are always preferred.

  • Do not place hot dog toppings between the hot dog and the bun. Always "dress the dog," not the bun.




Baguette Franks

Chicago Dogs

Coney Island Dogs

Corn Dogs

Homemade Frankfurters

Montreal Hot Dogs

Mummy Dogs


Potato Hot Dogs


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Hot Dog Links


Hot Dog Links

Hot Dog Month at Holiday Spot

Hot Dog on a Stick

National Hot Dog & Sausage Council

The Hot Dog



Credit & Terms of Use

(C) Shenanchie

Reprinted exclusively for Food Fare


Hot Diggity Dog!"Hot Diggity Dog" was written for entertainment purposes only and expresses the sole opinions of the author. This article is not meant to be a professional chef's essay about hot dogs, but rather an observation about the generalities of frankfurters from a home kitchen.


You are free to use the material in this article as reference, but if you happen to use direct wording from this piece, we would appreciate the credit. Thank you.


To send Shenanchie a comment about this article, click here.


Photo Credits:

Hot Dog Stand (1906, NYC): Issued by the US Library of Congress (digital ID det.4a13502). Original photo from the Detroit Publishing collection, which was given to the Library of Congress by the State Historical Society of Colorado in 1949. There are no copyright restrictions on the photo as it was published prior to 1922.



American Food & Culture

"Hot Diggity Dog" also appears as a chapter in the book American Food & Culture, which is part of Food Fare's exclusive Culinary Collection. Click here for more >


Food Fare Culinary Collection: American Food & Culture


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