As if we needed another reason to celebrate summer, July is National Hot Dog Month, recognition for something so great, it’s not just a one-day event; it’s 31 days of pure nitrate goodness. On July 4th weekend alone, over 150 million hot dogs will be downed. That’s enough hot dogs to stretch from Malibu to North Carolina 5 times! And 750,000,000 will be consumed in the U.S. each year! (Los Angeles being the number 1 city). There’s no denying our love for the pup.
I’m a fan of the hot dog. It’s entwined in my childhood memories, perhaps my DNA and I’m proud to say that I’ve passed it down to my two daughters. They count down the minutes til we hit our favorite place to get the best hot dog: Trolly Stop in Wrightsville Beach NC. About the size of a small kitchen, they churn out over 1,000 plump dogs a day in the summer.
People wrap around the shack of a building like a giant hug waiting patiently in the hot sun for clearly the best hot dogs on the planet (I’m biased, but right). What seals the deal is the bun. The buns are steamed then the hot dogs are carefully laid upon these soft pillows. Once the condiments adorn them, it’s a matter of minutes before the fireworks go off in your tummy.
I love that there’s an actual National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) a ‘governing body’ that offers insight, statistics, facts, recipes (and more!) about the rolled-up wonder meat. For those of you talented crooners who didn’t make the American Idol cut, there’s Hot Dog Idol! Feel the love and express your admiration in a song. There are no recording contracts, but there is a $250 grand prize to your favorite grocery store to buy what else? Hot Dogs! Log onto: http://www.hot-dog.org/.
Wanna know what’s in them? Doesn’t matter! Turn the other cheek er… bun. The pork versions contain everything except the oink. MSG and spice and everything nice. (Just for fun: read the ingredients on your favorite protein bar).
There have been loads of claims on the actual origin of the hot dog. Germany? St. Louis? New York? Let’s just be thankful they did! How much do you love the hot dog?Let’s count the ways. In Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest this 4th of July on Coney Island, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut woofed down 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, his seventh consecutive win. He’s a real Weiner! Uhm…winner. And did you know that when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth made their first visit to the United States in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt welcomed them to his Hyde Park estate by hosting a picnic and served them hot dogs? (wonder if he used this tactic for getting us through the Great Depression and WWII).
Beer has typically accompanied the hot dog on most of its outings. They look good together. They go together like peas and carrots. But I thought I’d do a little wine pairing with the hot dog- ya’ know, dress it up a bit.
With simple condiments such as mustard, ketchup, perhaps some relish, pair it with a nice cold Pinot Grigio such as the 2011 Esperto ville Venetzie. Its light, delicate notes of mandarin and white peaches compliment and don’t disappoint. It stands up to the tanginess of the mustard. Perfect for the simple dog.
If you’re a fan of chili on your dog, maybe even some onions, try it with the 2010 Francis Coppola Blue Label Merlot. This Merlot is medium bodied and has multiple layers of fruit flavors, spicy notes, and earthy, mineral nuances. It won’t compete with the strong taste of the chili and onions. You’re able to distinguish all the flavors nicely. I would recommend eating this dog at dinner, maybe on something other than a paper plate. Light a candle while you’re at it.
One of my all-time favorite dogs is the Surfer Dog. It has spicy mustard, melted cheese, and bacon bits sprinkled lightly on top (I’m salivating). I enjoy this piece of culinary heaven with a 2011 Rodney Strong Sonoma Chardonnay. This Chardonnay has toasty hints of oak with lemon and apple aromas finishing with pineapple and spice. It’s a lively chardonnay that brings out the nice smokiness of the bacon bits.
So whether you call it Perrito Caliente, Chien Chaud, or simply Hot Dog, this iconic snack is imbedded in our hearts (our arteries mostly), and always brings a smile to our faces.
Cheers to Fun in a Bun! Happy Summer!
Edible names are what drives me as a musician. My next band will be called the Hot Dogs. Chad Smith, Drummer, Red Hot Chili Peppers
The pairing of food and wine is a complex and highly inexact science. It is fraught with out-moded rules and a propensity for generalizations. Sid Goldstein, The Wine Lover’s Cookbook
A hot dog at the park is better than steak at the Ritz. Humphrey Bogart