- Jonathan Boncek file photo
- Pigman's Colin Miles
Ever since its ancestors immigrated to the USA from Germany (or maybe Vienna depending on who you ask), the hot dog has received unfair and unjust treatment.
While the hot dog is dismissed to the street-food category (where it’s considered a second-class food) the hot dog’s counterpart, the hamburger, enjoys all the luxuries of its iconic status. The hot dog deserves better though. For the hot dog is an icon of American culinary tradition. It’s time we gave it the respect it deserves.
Hamburgers are everywhere. It’s almost impossible to find a restaurant that doesn’t have one, or 40, on it’s menu. They cost anywhere from $1 to $10,000 (seriously, look it up) and famous restaurant critics have lavished even the most minimal hamburgers with oozing praise. Hamburgers deserve all of the respect they’ve garnered over the past 200 years, but the hot dog shouldn’t be relegated to a lower step on the podium.
The hot dog has a reputation for being just a cheap tube of pink processed slime. Often it’s made with the poorest parts of an animal and served in an aluminum sleeve at baseball games or gas stations. However, several hundred years ago in Frankfurt, Germany the hot dog was served during imperial coronations. That literally makes it food fit-for-a-king. I can guarantee you that the Holy Roman Emperor wasn’t being served hot dogs made out of pig lips and assholes.
Ingredients aren’t the only factor. Hot dogs, when made by hand, require the skill of true sausage artisans and can take a full day to produce. From the moment we at Pigman Goods source the ingredients, to the moment you’re biting into that snappy casing, we will have performed all of the following processes:
- Butcher meat, separating lean from fat
- Weigh meat and seasoning to exact measurement for consistent taste
- Chill meat to almost frozen
- Season and grind meat to a superfine texture while keeping meat cold
- Stuff into natural sheep casing
- Link sausage to exactly the same weights
- Hang and dry sausage
- Smoke and cook hot dogs till internal temp of 154F(about 4 hours)
- Chill links in ice bath till cold
- Hang and dry overnight
If hot dogs cost more to make in both ingredients and labor, then why shouldn’t they be afforded the same privileges as hamburgers? Hot dogs should have equal space on menus. They should be offered in a variety of preparations, just like the hamburger. Lastly, it’s time we stop scoffing at the idea of a hot dog that’s comparable in price to a boutique hamburger.
Related F&Bers answer the important questions including the age old: Is a hot dog a sandwich?: Deep Hot Dog Thoughts
Hamburgers have reached first-class status in America. Hot dogs deserve to be considered their equal.
Colin Miles is the founder and owner of the Atlanta based sausage company, Pigman Goods. Co-author, Alex Auxier, is a serious hot dog enthusiast.