They say every dog has its day, and that’s true or America’s favorite sausage variety, too. July 23 is National Hot Dog Day, and the perfect chance to stop and appreciate the simple dish that’s become a cultural staple in the U.S. and popular snack around the world.
Though hot dogs have come to be considered an “all-American” food, they originated in Germany and were brought to the U.S. by German immigrants, who began selling them on the streets of New York City. The first hot dog stand on Coney Island popped up in 1871, and “Frankfurters” made their way to Chicago by 1893, when they were sold at the World’s Fair.
Dogs have come a long way since then, from finding a place in pop culture – Mickey Mouse’s first on screen words were “Hot Dog!” marking his transition from the silent screen, while Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry told movie goers never to put ketchup on a hot dog – to getting the gourmet treatment – Hot Dog Mike’s in Little Rock Arkansas created the ONEdog, which features an all-beef hot dog topped with lobster tail, saffron aioli and gold flakes for a cool $1501 ($1500 of which is donated to local homeless outreach.)
Perhaps because the hot dog is so simple by nature, the temptation to experiment and customize a dog is enormous. Many restaurants, including large chains like Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings, have begun including gourmet or specialty dogs on their menus. From pretzel buns to pico de gallo and buffalo sauce, anything and everything can (and has) been used to create a specialty dog.
There are a lot of hot dogs to choose from, so we’ve compiled some of the basics to help guide your topping choices next time you get a hankering for a hot dog. Be adventurous and try ordering some of the more exotic options – restaurants have given their toppings a lot of thought, and the flavors complement each other in a way that might surprise (and delight) you!
The Chicago Dog – Chicago-style hot dogs feature a steamed all-beef hot dog on a poppy seed bun with seven key ingredients: raw onions, green relish, mustard, tomato slices, a pickle spear, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. It might sound odd, but trust us, it’s delicious!
The New York Dog – New York-style hot dogs have a loyal following of fans that wouldn’t have theirs any other way. These dogs include steamed onions or sauerkraut and mustard.
The Sonoran Dog – This southwestern take on the hot dog features a grilled dog wrapped in bacon, topped with pinto beans, grilled onions, green peppers, chopped fresh tomatoes, relish, tomatillo jalapeno salsa, mayonnaise, mustard and shredded cheese.
The Kansas City Dog – KC dogs are served on a sesame seed bun and topped with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese.
The Southern Dog – Head down south and you’ll find your hot dog covered in coleslaw.
The West Virginia Dog – West Virginia’s take on the southern dog features coleslaw, but adds chili and mustard.
The New Jersey Italian Dog – Served on an Italian roll or pizza bread, this hot dog is topped with bell peppers, onions, deep fried potatoes and an optional marinara sauce topping.
Coney Dogs – Named for Coney Island, these dogs are a Midwestern favorite (specifically Michigan.) Coney dogs include an all-beef dog, chili, fresh chopped onions and mustard.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to hot dog toppings. Have you come across any favorites, or any shocking hot dog styles? Tell us in the comments section below!