Hot Dogs, Baked Beans and Buns

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Americans have a serious love affair with hot dogs and baked beans; they consume both in record numbers every summer (and throughout the rest of the year!).

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that over seven billion hot dogs will be eaten between Memorial Day and Labor Day. (25.9 million will be eaten in major league ballparks; more hot dogs will be eaten at New York’s Yankee Stadium, 1.8 million this year, than any other in the country!) The 4th of July is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year; During this weekend alone, 155 million will be eaten.

Every year, Americans eat an average of 60 hot dogs each. More than 2 billion hot dogs will be consumed during National Hot Dog Month in July!

The term “hot dog” is credited to sports cartoonist Tad A. Dorgan. While sketching a cartoon of a hot dachshund sausage bun, he wasn’t sure of the spelling for “dachshund”, so he called them “hot dogs” around 1906.

They were probably first served on a bun in 1904 at the St.Louis World’s Fair, when they were still called frankfurters. Or they were originally sold on a bun from New York City pushcart vendors in the 1860s. (Sources vary on the origin.)

Also at the same St.Louis Fair was the introduction of French’s Mustard by George J. French.

Mustard is the top hot dog topping for adults; children prefer ketchup. (25% picked chocolate sauce!) But preferences DO vary from region to region. Mustard is the favorite topping for Americans overall, though younger adults are preferring ketchup (50% of the 18-to-24-year-olds).

Marrieds with children prefer a chili topping more than the single, no kids crowd.

Democrats and Republicans equally love mustard (30%) and relish (11%), but more Republicans (25%) than Democrats (17%)preferred ketchup. Democrats had a stronger preference for spicy chili. Independents (26%)preferred ketchup.

New Englanders (66%)love mustard as their main topping, while the Deep South equally preferred mustard and ketchup, but really love the chili topping (27%) the most.

Hot dogs and hamburgers are the two foods most associated with America. Hamburgers ranked number one (32%), but 2 in 10 consider hot dogs the most “American.” Fried chicken was next, followed by steak and pizza.

The middle-aged (30%) and northeasterners (32) are most likely to associate hot dogs with America. Younger Americans (34 and under)pick hamburgers as representing their country (More than 4 in 10, and especially among males 18 to 34). Young Democrats (55%)prefer burgers. With middle-aged Republicans, the choice is split almost evenly (27%-hot dogs, 26%-hamburgers).

One should always put the toppings on the hot dog, not the bun, according to the Council. Toppings should be applied in this order; the wet stuff first-mustard and/or chili, then the chunky stuff-relish, onions, and/or sauerkraut, then shredded cheese, then spices-celery salt or pepper. (Oh?)

Sesame seed, poppy seed, and plain buns are acceptable with hot dogs; anything else is overdone.

Use paper plates and napkins. Any topping residue left on your hands or fingers should be licked away, not washed.

Recommended beverages would be beer, iced tea, and lemonade. (I also strongly recommend Coca Cola or Pepsi.)
Did you know that “Nathan’s” was started in 1916 by Nathan Handwerker?; hot dogs were a nickel.

President Franklin Roosevelt served hot dogs to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England during their 1939 U.S. visit. It was the first time they ate one.

Americans eat more than 16 billion hot dogs each year. More than
20 billion were consumed in 2002.

A hot dog can contain up to 3.5% of “non-meat ingredients.” This is usually a type of soy or milk product. (It is?!??)

Hot dogs may be high in fat and sodium (salt), but they’re also a good source of protein, iron, and other vitamins. (They are???)

Several regional hot dog styles have achieved national (and some international)status: The New YorkDeli Dog(grilled flat on the griddle, topped with sauerkraut and deli mustard), New YorkStreet Cart Dog(boiled and served with onion sauce and deli mustard-or sauerkraut), ChicagoRed Hot, one of my personal favorites (served on a poppy seed roll and “dragged through the garden”, which means yellow mustard, sweet pickle relish, chopped onion, tomato, pickle spear, sport peppers or any hot peppers, and a dash of celery salt), The Dodger Dog (from Los Angeles, served a on a steamed foot-long bun with mustard and relish), Rochester White Hot(A favorite in west New York, it’s neither cured nor smoked, thus its famous off-white color, spicy taste, and smooth texture. This dog is split and griddled, served on a toasted bun, topped with a hot meat chili made from a secret Rochester recipe of chopped onions and any one of a variety of mustards), Fenway Frank(Boiled and grilled Fenway style (?), this dog’s served on a New England-style bun and covered with mustard and relish), MilwaukeeBrat(A bratwurst sausage that’s grilled and dipped in “Secret Stadium Sauce”, served on a crusty roll, and topped with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard), CincinnatiCheese Coney(This city’s version of the Coney Island Dog. Its chili topping consists of chili powder, nutmeg, chocolate (!), and cinnamon. Mild cheddar cheese, diced onions, and Ball Park mustard set this off), TexasCorn Dog(This was invented for the Texas State Fair in 1942, and is now a southern favorite. This dog’s dipped in corn batter and fried crisp. Served with mustard and coleslaw, kids love it!).

July is also National Baked Bean Month; a food as classic as the hot dog.

But unlike the former, baked beans’ origins are American, Native American, actually. According to the National Restaurant Association, the Narragansett, Penobscot, and Iroquois Indians created the first baked bean recipes. In fact, that important ingredient, maple syrup, was discovered by the Iroquois. The Pilgrims learned how to make baked beans from the Indians, but substituted molasses and pork fat for the maple syrup and bear fat.

During colonial days, Boston became renowned for baked beans, thus the designation of “Beantown.” (The city had an overabundance of molasses, so…..!)

Today, there’s NO company in Boston that makes baked beans, and only a few places in the city still serves them.

There’s no ONE standard way to make baked beans. Like the hot dog, regional styles have developed across the country.
There’s the classic New England style-navy or white beans and molasses. There’s a Southwestern style made with braised black or pinto beans, combining poblano and jalapeno chilies, sun-dried tomatoes, cumin, and a little brown sugar. Upscale, from Chicago(that darn Chicago again!)chef Susan Goss, features duck or foie gras in place of the usual pork fat or bacon. An Atlantic Portuguese version includes diced linguica, with kidney or navy beans.
So whether you’re chowing down on an old family recipe or a regional favorite, not only savor the flavor, savor the history!

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