In the last article, we left learning that the first hot dog of the season is sacred. Hot Dogs made a huge fashionable leap from Ancient Romans to Coney Island, from its humble beginnings with those who claim to have been the original mastermind of the infamous stuffed meat treat to those who defiantly acknowledged their status as sausage and hot dog kings. Regardless, It’s taste, is one we crave year round.

One of life’s simplest and most fleeting pleasure, its’ popularity, whether right off the grill, by the pool, on the grill, in the backyard, from a street vendor, adding each and everyone’s favorite toppings and new ones that elevate the hot dogs to new heights. (2021 Rangeley Highlander’s Summer Guide.) By 1893, hot dogs were a front-runner baseball park treat. The stadiums of two baseball team owners, one of The St. Louis Browns and the other The New York Giants, each claimed the onset of their popularity in their baseball parks, called that the weather had made it impossible to sell ice pops, ice cream and keeping ice from melting due to the lack of deep freeze refrigeration.

The baseball parks also solidified the “Hot Dog” name, at the onset of their popularity in the parks, back then at the wallet busting price of “5 cents”, (and feed a family of four, under 50 cents.) It was claimed a man standing in a long line waiting to buy one of these, yells “Give me one of those Damn Dogs.” this caught on and soon everyone was yelling-for “Hot Dogs.”

In 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt and then President Franklin Roosevelt hosted a picnic on The White House lawn when the King and Queen of England visited North America and on the menu, was the ever popular “meat sandwich.” The Queen had never tried one before and asked “How Do You Eat This”.

It was with the help of the NJ Daily Press that played a role in popularizing neologisms and slang of the times. Even back then, we were contributing to the addition of new words in the dictionary. Idioms such as “for crying out loud” “to see red” and “making whoopee” joined “hot dogs” and “weenie roast” during that era.

The hot dog was a wide spread joke from the 1930’s to those who just couldn’t understand this delectable treat. Urban legends, questions and innuendos and tongue in cheek still somewhat persist today, indicating that leftover meats and animal parts of farms and processing plant made up the meats that was actually used to make the hot dogs. The fables, stories, horrors tormented many people, and yet, the average American eats 70 hot dogs each per year*…

Rest assure, due to the standards of manufacturing and inspections by USDA, the meat of even the plainest dog is still cured meat, spiced with peppers, white and black, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, paprika and allspice. The meat is usually beef or pork, the same as you would use for ground beef or ground pork. This includes meat that is trimmed from the largest cuts, like roasts, chops and tenderloins that usually doesn’t make it as good steaks and roast (to USDA standards) because of their weight, size, shape or tenderness. Today you can find hot dogs in varieties with spices, cheeses, chicken or turkey, even plants and vegetable based.

I reached out to a couple of manufacturers on the process of hot dog making. Truth be said-if you eat regular meat in the US-you can trust the hot dog. I learned as well, that in *2019, Americans spent 2.3 Billion dollars, that’s an average of 70 hot dogs per year per person*.

USDA oversees every facility in maintenance of equipment, safety and cleanliness of infrastructure and employees, following up on steps for the standards of cleanliness and regulations, from hand washing stations at every point, stages and rooms, wearing technical gear, that literally conceals every part of them when they are near any food or food processing equipment. Besides all of this, the USDA oversees the quality of the ingredients, quality cuts of meat and manufacturing of its product. After choosing the best cuts, the meats are chopped, milled finely with a grinder and blended with herbs and spices, usually salt and black and white pepper, garlic, onion and paprika.

Special recipes include jalapenos or apples, Italian or other types of specialized seasonings, cheeses and vegetables that may include spinach, sweet potatoes, beets, potatoes or carrots.

One of them shared what he called an “Industry Secret.” I was a bit surprised, and felt humbled, he stated ground ice is added to the ground meat to help retain moisture as it grinds in the meat mixture-batter. He followed with, you might have heard of a similar trick used in homes when making burgers. Adding crushed ice to your meat when making patties, will keep your burgers meat moist when it cooks. I must say, I had not heard of that, nor found anything that would support this yet, but he called it an Industry secret and he didn’t even ask me to sign an NDA. But in reality, these inspectors must have all kinds of tricks up their lab coats.

On the production line, after seasoning, the meat is stuffed into the casings, to be formed into links, still under the careful eyes of the inspectors, and then smoked for additional flavor, these high tech smokers combine high efficiency and mass production. When steamed to be partially or fully cooked depending on the recipe, some to be used immediately and some prepared for packaging to be distributed, as they are sent freshly to vendors, stadiums, schools, institutional facilities, retail and wholesalers.

The hot dogs are extremely popular in the summer months and are a beloved mainstay of our society. The glorious tradition stretches back into centuries and continues every time you bite into one. Hot Dogs hold so much nostalgia for people because of their connection to summers, BBQ, pool parties that they became the simplest pleasures in life.

We’ve come a long way from plain meat sandwiches or hot dogs, they are “The Food Of The People”.

We’ve grilled, boiled and sauteed hot dogs, today we have hot dogs for breakfast.

The Recipes

Omelets are at the top of most requested breakfast favorites, and adding hot dogs to the recipe will make for a scrumptious breakfast.

Cheddar and Hot dog Omelet

• 4 eggs

• 3 hot dogs, cubed

• 4-5 oz, shredded cheddar

• S&P

• olive oil

• * add-ons

Directions:

• In a skillet, heat the oil and add the hot dogs.

• Saute until heated through and set aside.

• Add S&P to taste. In a bowl, beat eggs and season. *You can also add peppers, onions and garlic to enhance the flavor.

• Pour ¼ of your egg mixture into the skillet and top with ¼ of the hot dogs and cheese and whatever add-ons you have.

• Cook slowly, swirling your pan, using a spatula to release the sides, cooking tenderly until egg is cooked. Fold in half and plate.

• Repeat process until you have used up all the egg mixture.

Don’t you just love saying something with the words “cheese” and “Bacon” in the same sentence? And what better way to enjoy these breakfast classics than on your breakfast dog.

Cheesy Bacon Hot Dog Recipe

Ingredients:

• Hot Dog

• String cheese

• Thinly cut bacon, sliced

• Baking foil

Directions:

• Cut your hot dogs in half, lengthwise, creating a pocket. Be careful not to cut through the hot dogs.

• Stuff each dogs with the string cheese.

• Starting from one end of the hot dog, gently wrap a slice of bacon around the dog.

• Place each dog on a square foil and wrap around.

• If you are grilling your hot dog, this will require you to place the beef hot dogs directly on the grill. Turn at regular intervals for an even cook. Cook until bacon is crispy. (10-15 minutes).

• If your baking your hot dogs in the oven, preheat oven to 450°. Place your hot dog on the wire rack over a baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes.

Serve on a bun sprinkled with cheese topping, and sliced chives or scallions for decorations.

… Next column, the philosophy (yes, that exits) of the sandwich question.

“The Cube Rule of Food” The Supreme court ruling on the sandwich and what the brainiac in 2017 created to try settle sandwich arguments, the almighty “The Sandwich Alignment Chart”. All stemming from “Is a hot dog a hot dog or a sandwich?” but then, “What is the hot dog if it’s not a sandwich?” Or “Can a sandwich be a Hot dog?” Food for thought folks!

This has been so much fun and there is so much more to learn. Happy Fooding, Happy

Hot-Dogging. Drop your comments, am still collecting favorite hot dog toppers for the poll, and the question is as previously stated, is the hot dog a dog or sandwich? What do you think? E-mail to: [email protected]

And the last words~Noblest of all dogs is the hot-dog; it feeds the hand that bites it.~Lawrence J. Peters.

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