Hot dogs take center stage on the grill and at picnics across America in July for National Hot Dog Month and National Hot Dog Day on July 19.
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC – yes, there is such a thing), consumers spent more than $2.4 billion on hot dogs in U.S. grocery stores in 2016. Fittingly, about 10% of those sales usually occur during July. But the hot dog’s popularity surges throughout the entire summer. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans gobble up a whopping 7 billion hot dogs.
Baseball fans, in particular, have had a love affair with hot dogs for generations. During the 2016 season, 19.4 million hot dogs were sold at Major League Baseball ballparks across the country.
So what exactly is in a hot dog? Its ingredients have been the subject of much speculation – and humor – over the years. All hot dogs are cured and cooked sausages consisting mainly of pork, beef, chicken or turkey or some combination of meat and poultry. Other ingredients include water, curing agents and spices, such as garlic, salt, ground mustard, nut meg and white pepper.
If you don’t care for traditional hot dogs and want a healthier option, don’t despair. You can also choose from a variety of veggie dogs.
Grilling hot dogs to perfection
When cooked perfectly, hot dogs should be smoky on the outside and hot and juicy inside. If the fire’s too hot, the outside will burn before the inside is adequately heated or the dogs will burn and split open, allowing their tasty juices to escape. Heat one half of the grill until it’s medium hot, keeping the other half unheated, then place the dogs over the heat. Keep turning them to ensure grill marks all around. When the hot dogs begin to expand, they’re ready to serve. And always use tongs when lifting hot dogs off the grill. If you pierce them with a fork, the juices will run out!
Did you know?
- Mustard is the king of toppings. According to an online survey conducted for the NHDSC, 71% of Americans prefer the golden yellow topping on their dogs, with ketchup coming in second. Other favorite toppings include onions, chili, relish, coleslaw and sauerkraut.
- A regular hot dog has 250 calories, including the bun (but excluding the toppings).
- Los Angeles residents consume more hot dogs than any other city (more than 36 million pounds a year), beating out New York and Philadelphia.
- American Joey Chestnut set a new record at the 2016 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, N.Y., downing 70 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes.
Get ready to fire up the grill, line up your favorite condiments and let the celebration begin.