On a hot dog hunt
by By Lucie Willsie
According to the website/magazine “Scientific American,” Americans will devour 150 million hot dogs this Fourth of July.
And why not?
Whether they are boiled, grilled or fried, what could be more American than hot dogs?
And what could be more “patriotic” than a hot dog on the Fourth of July?
Chazz Elstone estimates he eats hot dogs almost every week. His choice of hot dogs? An all-beef dog covered in yellow mustard, regular slaw (not hot), chili and onions — or “All the Way,” as they call it around these parts, he said.
Alison Bledsoe’s customers usually ask for “All the Ways,” said Bledsoe, co-owner of Colt’s Hot Dog Shack with her husband Tim. But unlike Elstone, most of Bledsoe’s customers like to eat the “red” dogs, which are usually a pork and beef mix or a chicken, pork and beef mix rather than all beef.
Whether red or beef, “hot dogs are part of the American tradition,” said Joel Woodson, supervisor of the Downtown Deli located in the Old North State Winery & Brewery. “It’s a classic American meal. What kid hasn’t had a hot dog?”
His deli offers up various dishes and sandwiches, he added, including about half a dozen specialty hot dog combo creations. But, his recommendation, as far as what type of hot dog is best, is to choose an all-beef dog.
In addition to the tastiness of a hot dog, Helen Wood, owner of O’Dell’s Sandwich Shop, also brought up another reason for the popularity of hot dogs.
“They’re affordable,” she said.
Freddy Hiatt, owner of The Dairy Center, also said it makes a difference in the taste if a hot dog is boiled or grilled or deep fried. Any one is great, he said. It’s just a personal preference. But the taste difference comes down to a difference in texture. Boiled hot dogs have a softer texture. Both the grilled and the deep-fried are crispier on the outside but have a soft core. One of the main differences between these last two — grilling and deep-frying — is that deep-frying takes a little longer to cook. Fewer folks seem to like these last two options. Most folks seem to prefer boiled hot dogs, Hiatt said.
The McCreary family has a third reason why hot dogs are popular, at least with their family — dad, Nathan; mom, Sherry; daughters Sophie, 7, and Ava Bay, 5, cousin Jade, 8, and grandma Ollie. It started with Nathan McCreary’s dad who has been eating hot dogs at his favorite spot, The Dairy Center, for the past 60 some years, ever since dad was a youngster. Now, every time the Atlanta McCreary’s come to visit grandma Ollie from Cana, Va., they make their traditional trip to their favorite restaurant for their favorite dog — topped with chili and slaw.
Roger Webb also admits to being a “frequent hot dog eater,” he said.
“I like everything about them,” Webb said. “Especially about the ‘All the Way’ (red) dogs … On a toasted bun … It’s the only way to eat a hot dog.”
Hiatt, however, has another option for “vegetarian” hot dog lovers, he said. He offers folks a Veggie Dog made with a regular hot dog bun piled high with chili, onions, cole slaw and mustard — and no dog.
But Louis Stanfield summed it up best as he was chomping down on his second dog of the day.
“They just taste good,” Stanfield said.
But many have a unique way of making the basic good-tasting dish even more savory.
One of the better known specialty hot dog creations is called the Chicago-style hot dog made with an all-beef frank on a poppy-seed bun topped with yellow mustard, white onions, sweet pickle relish, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers, a dash of celery sale, with a dill pickle spear on top. Ketchup is avoided.
Another popular style of hot dog creations tops a hot dog with chili, shredded Cheddar cheese, and raw onion, reportedly called a Coney Island dog, even though it seems to be best known in Detroit.
A hot dog with brown mustard and sauerkraut, sometimes flavored with chili powder, along with sautéed onions and tomato paste seems to be popular in the New York area.
In the Midwest, especially in Kansas City, a hot dog is topped with melted cheese, caraway, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing, combining the traditional hot dog with some Reuben sandwich ingredients.
Heading out to the West Coast, hot dogs can be found topped with bacon, with mayonnaise, as well as any of the following toppings — pickles, shallots, tomatoes and shredded lettuce — somewhat mimicking a bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich.
Another West Coast variety, among many, is called the Oki Dog, whose name is supposed to originate from the ones served in Okinawa, Japan. It consists of two hot dogs on a flour tortilla, covered in chili and pastrami and wrapped up, as in a burrito-style.
In Arizona, there’s a hot dog style named Sonoran which first wraps a hot dog in smoky bacon and then tops it with pinto beans, onions, mustard, mayo and chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapeños.
And some hot dogs wander even further from the basic original by first of all coming served on a toasted hard roll, not one of those soft hog dog buns most folks are used to. But then to further remove them selves from the basic original, Milwaukeeans add butter, spicy mustard — absolutely no catsup — sweet pickles and sauerkraut.
Supposedly the Italian dog is the fav in New Jersey. It consists of an all-beef hot dog served on an Italian roll, topped with peppers, onions, and, believe it or not, fried potatoes. Go figure!!!
And, it wouldn’t be fair to mention several ways that the naked hot dog is served up without mentioning the corn dog. For those unfamiliar, it’s a plain hot dog covered in corn bread and put on a stick for easier consumption. A couple of fellas from Texas are two of many who are taking credit for inventing this gem of a hot dog way back at a Texas State Fair in Dallas in 1886.
But the hot dog doesn’t stop at U.S. borders. Hot dogs are popular worldwide, in various incarnations, from the deep-fried ones in Thailand to pineapple sauce-covered ones in Mexico.
An informal survey taken by the Mount Airy News found that roughly 80 to 70 percent of folks asked eat hot dogs throughout the year, but especially as part of a Fourth of July celebration. Most, especially in this part of the country, eat them “All the Way” meaning with yellow mustard, chili, regular slaw (not hot) and white onions. A few other slightly differing variations include putting chili and slaw with catsup and mayo being the most popular secondary way to eat an “All the Way”-type hot dog. When folks do eat hot dogs, two is the average number consumed at one sitting. Around 30 to 40 percent like their hot dogs what they called “burned.” There is a definite 50-50 split when it comes to either all beef or red hot dogs. And, a small number of folks prefer the taste of a hot dog only when it is cooked over a roaring campfire.
According to Internet reports, hot dogs or frankfurters were first sold in New York City around 1900, but usually the history starts back in Germany since around the 13th century. Reportedly, the hot dog in a bun came a little later when the gloves given with which to eat the first “hot dogs” kept disappearing along with the sausages. Again, according to lore, the term “dog” came into vogue because the term “dachshund” sandwiches started being used to describe this sausage delight, but was a bit, well, too much of a mouthful to say, so the name was turned into a simpler and more concise term — the “hot” dog. Another story goes that the term “hot dog” was first used by a newspaper cartoonist in reference to a bicycle race, not a baseball game as you might expect, considering the great and popular combination of hot dogs and baseball.
Most hot dogs, on average, contain between 180 and 250 calories and 15 grams of total fat, with roughly 5 grams of which are saturated fats, 24 mg of cholesterol, easily between 400 and 700 mg of sodium, 120 mg of potassium, and almost 20 grams of carbohydrates, and almost 10 grams of protein. Hot dogs are usually either pink or brown in color. And that doesn’t even include the typical hot dog bun which usually comes in at around 120 calories, 10 grams of total fat and 4 grams of saturated fats, around 400 mgs of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 20 mg of cholesterol, and 5 grams of protein.
According to Internet research, hot dogs are made of a combination of selected meats of pork, beef, chicken or turkey, meat fat, cereal filler, such as bread crumbs, flour, and/or oatmeal, egg whites, and a variety of herbs and seasonings, some of which may include mustard, salt, nutmeg, pepper, garlic and onion.
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