Hot dogs, wieners, frankfurters, weenies, dogs, pups, red hots, sausages, brats. Whatever you call them, celebrate National Hot Dog Day which falls on the third Wednesday in July! In 2021, it’s Wednesday, July 21st.
Slathered with mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, or mayo, drenched in sauerkraut, chili, red onion, relish, cheese, celery salt, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, or jalapeno peppers, and boiled, broiled, steamed, fried, grilled, or microwaved, these juicy gems are part of an enduring American love affair—whatever name you give them.
With a side of coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad, or a favorite bag of chips, nothing else shouts “summertime” quite the same way. In fact, what’s a state fair without corndogs–hot dogs coated and fried in a corn breading—first introduced in Texas in 1942.
Hot Dog History
Born in Germany where they’re called Frankfurter Wurstchen (wurstchen means “little sausage”) and popular since the 13th Century, the thumb-shaped meat with a robust flavor was served to people during imperial coronations. According to some, however, hot dogs as we know them are as American as baseball and apple pie.
Though the nation’s signature dog often gets a bad nutritional rap, Americans reportedly consume $2 billion dollars’ worth of the treat annually. After all, there’s always that ice-cold beer or large frozen lemonade to wash it down. In fact, for many, the idea of a ballgame without a steamed red hot is like a birthday without a cake. It’s simply not done. And with Joey Chestnut, a world hot dog eating champion, consuming 74 hotdogs (and buns!) in one 10-minute swoop, summer’s meaty icon probably won’t go away anytime soon.
Hot Dog Varieties
Today the availability of turkey, chicken, tofu, organic, vegan, and even salmon hot dogs opens the door to a more healthful option, not to mention a taste tickling adventure. While consumers sometimes lament that meatless alternatives are also tasteless alternatives, preparation plus a grilled or toasted poppy seed bun, baguette or Kaiser roll, and some creative condiment pairings can make all the difference. Ever hear of chive cream cheese and roasted red peppers as toppers? What about brie and sun-dried tomatoes? A shmear of spicy guacamole and crushed blue corn tortilla chips go a long way in elevating a bland tofu or veggie dog to epicurean status, as does sharp, creamy bleu cheese if you eat dairy.
Whether you choose a traditional hot dog, turkey, or chicken, or a meatless marvel, a little culinary creativity can add wow to your wiener and a little brio to your beach or backyard barbecue. Or on rainy days, divine dogs can be prepared on the stovetop or baked in the oven with beans, celery, brown sugar, and more.
Hot Dog Trivia
- Mustard is the #1 hot dog topping, with ketchup coming in a close second.
- The Apollo 11 voyage was the first to feature hot dogs, in the form of “thermostabilized frankfurters” with a “thermostabilized cheddar cheese spread,” according to a NASA report.
- Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans eat approximately 7 billion hot dogs.
- Nathan Handwerker opened Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs in Coney Island, New York in 1916.
- The average American eats 70 hot dogs a year.
- Baseball and hot dogs go hand-in-hand; Dodger fans eat the most at 3 million hot dogs per season (pre-pandemic).
- The Hot Dog Council says it should take you 5 bites to finish one hot dog. For a foot-long, 7 bites.
Hot Dog Math
We all know hot dog buns come in packs of 8, and hot dogs come in packs of 10, which is often a head-scratcher. Why is this? (because now you have to buy a second bag of buns in order to accommodate all 10 dogs).
The reason is that hot dog buns are baked in pans of 4, so bakers slide two pans’ worth of buns into the bags. And in the old days, you ordered your hot dogs loose from the butcher rather than buying them in packs at the supermarket. Don’t want any extras? You’d need to purchase five bags of 8-count buns and four packs of 10-count hot dogs to even it out!
Hot Dog Recipes
Hot Dogs in Tangy Barbecue Sauce
1 small onion, chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 hot dogs (or turkey or chicken hot dogs)
8 hot dog buns, split
In a heavy skillet, cook onion in hot oil over medium-low heat. Stir in ketchup, celery, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard, water, and salt. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Lightly score hot dogs diagonally at one-inch intervals. Add hot dogs to sauce; cover and simmer for about 15 minutes longer. Toast split buns. Serve hot dogs and sauce over toasted buns.
Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Hot Dogs for Grilling
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 large hot dogs, knockwurst or kielbasa
1/2 ounce cheddar cheese cut into long sticks
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup chilled sauerkraut, drained and roughly chopped
4 slices uncooked bacon
Vegetable oil for coating grill
4 long hot dog buns or small baguettes
Prepare grill for direct medium heat. Combine ketchup and mustard in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix sauerkraut with chopped onion and set aside. Slice open hot dogs lengthwise, down the center, forming a deep pocket in each but not cutting through. Coat the insides with ketchup/mustard mixture.
Place a strip of cheese deep within the pocket of each hot dog. Top with sauerkraut and onion. Enclose any cheese at the ends in sauerkraut also or it will drip out while grilling.
Wrap a strip of bacon around each stuffed hot dog securing with toothpicks at each end. Make sure to wrap tightly so the stuffing stays in, but not so tight that when hot dog cooks and expands it will tear the bacon.
Coat grill with vegetable oil so hot dogs won’t stick. Place hot dogs on grill, stuffed side down. Grill for 2 minutes until bacon on that side is cooked, turn the hot dogs a quarter turn and grill for two more minutes. Keep turning and grilling until bacon is completely cooked, covering grill for more uniform cooking.
Grill hot dog buns or baguettes. Remove toothpicks from hot dogs and serve.
Traditional Pigs in a Blanket
8 hot dogs
Cheddar cheese slices
Canned crescent rolls
Condiments of your choice
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Take each hot dog and split down the middle lengthwise almost all the way through. Place a long, thick cheese slice down the middle. Separate crescent dough into triangles and wrap each hot dog starting with the side opposite the point, beginning on one end of the dog and stretching the dough a little to completely cover it, wrapping the dough around. Place dogs on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with optional condiments.
Baked Beans and Tofu Dogs
2 cans (32 oz.) vegetarian baked beans
8 tofu hot dogs, sliced
2 medium onions, diced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sugar, maple sugar, or Splenda (optional)
Dice onions and slice tofu or veggie dogs into coin shapes. Spray a small amount of cooking spray info a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onions and hot dogs until onions are softened and hot dog slices are slightly browned. Stir in beans, Worcestershire sauce, and optional sweetener. Mixture bubbles when done.
With contributions and recipes from freelancer writer Beth Herman.