How to Make the Perfect Hot Dog

Photograph of a Coney Island hot dog.

Photograph of a Coney Island hot dog. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although we tend to think of hot dogs as All-American, they are actually immigrants from Germany and Italy.  The ancestor of the modern day hot dog came from Frankfurt and featured a pork sausage link served wrapped in piece of bread or inside a bun.  This is why hot dogs are sometimes called frankfurters.  From here, the hot dog made its way to Vienna where it expanded to include sausage made with pork and beef and contracted into a smaller version called wieners.  This may also be were Vienna sausages got their start.  Immigrants from both Germany and Italy then brought the frankfurter and the wiener with them when they braved the ocean-crossing and entered the new world.  Here, it became the hot dog.  Although there is still some contention about the exact source of the modern day name, the generally accepted explanation dates back to the mid-1800s when a cartoonist drew a picture of a wiener dog or dachshund in a wiener bun at a baseball game in New York and called it a “hot dog” because he couldn’t spell dachshund.

How you like to eat your hot dogs generally has a lot to do with where you were born and raised.   If you live in New York, there is a good chance that you eat more hot dogs per year than someone who lives in another city.  While the original hot dog was made from pork, the options available today span everything from the more traditional meats like pork and beef to poultry products like chicken or turkey and you can even buy hot dogs made entirely of vegetarian ingredients like soy.

But no matter what your hot dog is made out of, there are two other critical decisions that go into making the perfect hot dog.  First, you need to decide how you are going to cook it.  They can be grilled, roasted, boiled, and even sautéed.  Then, you need to decide what you are going to put on it.  About a third of you will squeeze on some mustard which is the most commonly used condiment, followed closely by some ketchup and/or a little chili.  But don’t stop there.  One of the best things about hot dogs is that once you have a good base, you can customize them however you want with a wide variety of toppings.

From its immigrant roots to its ability to let everyone exercise their independence by choosing the type of hot dog and perfect toppings, there is no question that the hot dog is an All-American All Star.  Here are some tips for how to figure out what your “perfect” hot dog is made from, cooked on, and covered with as we celebrate the birth of our country and the humble hot dog.




How to make your own

Where to Find Them

  • Check for ideas on where to find the best hot dogs out and about across the country- lots of comments featuring everyone’s favorite places to get a hot dog across the country)
  • Listing of America’s Best Hot Dogs from
  • Visit Kraft’s site for information on Oscar Mayer products
  • Visit the Applegate Farms website to learn more about how their hot dogs differ from other brands
  • Visit the Hebrew National website for more information on their products
  • Visit the Ballpark brand website for more information on their products


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