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Baseball dates
1839: Baseball invented by Abner Doubleday
1903: Inaugural World Series between the champs of National League (formed in 1876) and American League (formed in 1900)
1904: French’s Cream Salad (yellow) Mustard introduced at St. Louis World’s Fair
1915: French’s pennant became the brand’s official logo
– French’s
Did you know?
2.3 billion: Number of hot dogs consumed during National Hot Dog Month, which occurs in July
7 billion: Number of hot dogs consumed between Memorial Day and Labor Day, translating to 818 hot dogs every second during that time period
88 percent: Amount of hot dog eaters who use mustard, making it the most popular topping
155 million: Number of hot dogs Americans will enjoy July 4 – enough to stretch from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles more than five times
1929: Year Mickey Mouse uttered his first words – “hot dogs” – in a cartoon (“The Karnival Kid”); he was previously featured in silent cartoons
2.4 million: Number of hot dogs consumed last year by U.S. troops in military posts around the world
– Courtesy of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council
The dogs
Southwest Dog: Wrapped in bacon and grilled; topped with pinto beans, tomato, onion, avocado and cilantro
Reuben Dog: Sauerkraut heated with caraway seeds, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and dill-pickle chips
Fugetaboutit Dog: Sautéed peppers (red and green), onions and garlic stewed with diced tomatoes
Cuban Dog: Swiss cheese, mustard and dill pickles
Crunchy-Corn Dog: Chili beans, shredded cheddar, pickled jalapeños and crushed Fritos
Far-East Dog: Brush with hoisin or plum sauce before grilling; garnish with sliced cucumbers, scallions, cilantro and more sauce
Guacamole Dog: Guacamole, sour cream, diced tomatoes and onions
BBQ Dog: Brush dogs with barbecue sauce before grilling, then top with coleslaw
Real Hot Dog: Shredded jalapeño jack cheese and sliced pickled jalapeños
Skinny Dog: Turkey dog or tofu pup with mustard, ketchup and dill-pickle relish; whole-wheat bun, of course
Onion Dog: Sauté 1 sliced onion in vegetable oil; add 3 tablespoons ketchup, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, cayenne and paprika; simmer until thick
Philly Cheesesteak Dog: Melted Velveeta cheese, sautéed peppers and onions and a dash of hot sauce
– French’s
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Top (hot) dogs

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Mustard is used by 88 percent of hot dog eaters, making it the most popular topping.
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Cincinnati dogs are smothered in chili without beans.
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Chicagoans dress their dogs with veggies, mustard and celery salt.

At its essence, a hot dog is just a mild sausage in a bun. Nothing terribly complicated about that, until geographic preferences are considered, some so strong that they might bring dissenters to blows.

A Jersey dog is deep-fried and piled with fried potatoes. In Cincinnati, they like them dripping with thin, spicy chili without beans. Chicagoans pile on the toppings – mustard, sweet-pickle relish, onion, tomato, pickled sport peppers (hot yellow chilies), celery salt and a dill-pickle spear on a poppy-seed roll – and hope they don’t tumble out and down the front of their shirts. Out West, just about anything goes, including nacho cheese and avocado.

We are thinking about hot dogs because baseball and grilling seasons are now in full swing.

Our Pavlovian response to the crack of the bat is a hot dog piled with toppings, a cold beer and peanuts.

Besides the toppings, many people are loyal to a brand, and among the most popular are Nathan’s, Oscar Mayer, Hebrew National, Ball Park and Vienna. It’s such a beloved treat that even nonmeat eaters have demanded vegetarian varieties, often called tofu pups.

There are a number of ways to cook them, including boiling, steaming, pan-frying and even microwaving. Each enhances the flavor in a different way. Grilling leaves those appealing char-stripes, and that’s the preparation method we are recommending today to go with some innovative topping ideas.

So how about it, slugger? Ready to trade your relish for pickled jalapeno? Or transform your sauerkraut dog into a Reuben on a bun by adding Swiss cheese and Thousand Island? Remember, if you want the cheese to melt, shred it finely and place it on top of the hot dog as soon as it comes from the grill or melt it on the bun under the broiler or on a closed grill.

The drippier the toppings, the sturdier the bun needs to be.

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