Celebrate National Hot Dog Month
Hot dogs are the ultimate summer food, popularly served at ballpark stadiums, carnivals, picnics and barbecues. Generally regarded as a quintessentially American food, hot dogs have become so engrained into American culture that their consumption goes hand in hand with our nation’s most patriotic holiday, the 4th of July. In fact, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that Americans consume 7 billion hot dogs during “Hot Dog Season”—the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day—and 155 million hot dogs on Independence Day alone. These staggering numbers speak for themselves, but we’ll say it anyway: Americans love hot dogs.
The month of July is National Hot Dog Month, and we couldn’t think of a better time to celebrate. After all, we are at the height of hot dog season, providing the perfect backdrop to celebrating one of America’s favorite foods. Read below for the brief history of hot dogs, and a few ideas on how you can partake in the festivities.
Hot dogs first appeared on the American food scene in the late 1800s, but its history reveals that the hot dog’s lineage dates back further than the United States’ history as a country. In the late 1600s, a butcher named Johann Georghehner created hot dog’s ancestor, the Viennese sausage (also known as a “dacshund” or “little-dog”), in Coburg, Germany. Some reports claim that he later traveled to Frankfurt-am-Main, explaining the derivation of the popular term, “frankfurter.”
To this day, it remains a mystery as to who invented the North American hot dog variety. American hot dogs are believed to have come from the European sausage brought to the states by butchers hailing from several different countries. Another popular point of dispute is the origin of the hot dog bun. No one knows for certain who first served a hot dog in a roll, but a German immigrant named Charles Feltman is widely credited for sparking the trend in 1871. Feltman’s Coney Island business set a precedent for future hot dog vendors—a practice that became exceedingly popular after hot dog vendors debuted to large crowds at the 1893 World exposition. Since then, America has become home to billions of hot dogs consumed each year, securing its place as a true American food.
What’s in a hot dog?
What exactly is in a frankfurter? Many hot dog lovers would rather not know. For those of you out there with an insatiable curiosity and an appetite to boot, here’s the scoop. Usually containing all beef or a blend of meat, hot dogs are a combination of meat, fat, water, and spices, cooked in a thin casing of skin. Hot dogs can contain up to 15% of “variety meats” like liver, kidneys and hearts. If that last statistic worries you, fear not—organic hot dogs are free of variety meats, preservatives and fillers.
America’s favorite hot dog spots
If reading all of this is making you hungry, try one of these hot-dog-lover-approved spots:
Superdawg drive-in – Chicago, IL and Wheeling, IL
Chicago is home to some of the best hot dogs in the world. When the most seasoned hot dog eaters in the country declare Superdawg the best hot dog joint out there, you know it has to be good. With its aptly named signature Superdawg reaping words of praise from prominent publications like The New York Times and Chicago Sun-Times, it’s safe to say that Superdawg is truly the top dog.
Crif Dogs – Two locations in New York, NY
Widely considered the best hot dogs in New York City, Crif Dogs has impressed time and time again with their impressive creative spin on the old classic. Try the B.L.T. for a bacon wrapped hot dog topped with lettuce, tomato and mayo—it’s a favorite for many Crif regulars.
Gorilla Pete’s – San Francisco, CA (on Folsom St. and Spear St.)
Serving all beef franks, chicken and veggie sausages, hot links and bratwurst, Gorilla Pete’s has become a popular hot dog stand for hungry San Franciscans on-the-go.
Vicious Dogs – North Hollywood, CA
With quirky décor, inspired menu items, and cool rewards for customer loyalty, Vicious Dogs has become the go-to hot dog joint for LA-area foodies.
Feeling extra festive? West Virginia hot dog lovers will enjoy the West Virginia Hot Dog Festival in Huntington. A 5K Bun Run, wiener dog races, hot dog eating contests and food vendors makes this event the perfect way to celebrate National Hot Dog Month.