Home Indiana Agriculture News Hot Dogs: The Centerpiece of Summer Culinary Experiences

Hot Dogs: The Centerpiece of Summer Culinary Experiences

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No matter what you call them—frankfurters, weenies, red-hots—hot dogs will likely be at any Independence Day gathering you go to this year.

“July 4 is the single biggest hot dog sales and consumption day of the year,” said Eric Mittenhal, president or top dog of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC). “Americans eat more than 150 million hot dogs on July 4 alone. Hot dogs are America, so when we’re celebrating America’s birthday, you got to have a hot dog.”

Summer is the peak of hot dog consumption. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans eat roughly 7 billion franks, which is about one-third of the hot dogs that are consumed in one year.

“There’s something about being outside enjoying a hot dog off the grill, campfire, or at a ball game—it’s perfect outside food,” said Mittenhal. “Summertime lends itself to hot dogs, but year-round is hot dog season for us.”

According to the NHDSC, hot dog sales climbed 20 percent during the pandemic. Mittenhal said it’s because it fits in well with tastes, budgets, and nutritional needs.

“Hot dogs are made from the same meat that is cut away from your steaks and roasts you’re buying at the grocery store,” he said. “The difference between a hot dog and those is that the hot dog is ground up finely, mixed with different spices to give that flavor profile, put in a casing and cooked. It’s as simple as that. The nutrition you’re getting—the protein, vitamin B-12, zinc, niacin, iron, it’s all in a hot dog.”

There are plenty of delicious foods to pair as a side with hot dogs. But if you’re at a loss with what to put on this crown jewel of backyard gatherings, Mittenhal said there’s one condiment that does not belong if you’re over 18.

“Ketchup is not the ideal topping,” he said. “Other than that, the options are endless. Mustard, relish, sauerkraut, chili, coleslaw, some people put jalapenos on their hot dogs, bacon-wrapped hot dogs are popular. There’s a lot of great ways to do it, and folks can choose whatever works best for them.”