Fun facts about America’s favorite summertime treat

Call it a dog, sausage or frankfurter, it’s been around since before the 9th century BC. Homer’s Odyssey refers to a man by a roaring fire waiting impatiently for his sausage to cook.

In the centuries that followed, many references to the sausage are recorded throughout history.

In the 19th century, German immigrants came here and brought their sausages and their dachshund dogs with them.

In 1867, a German butcher opened a stand in Coney Island in New York and sold 3,684 “dachhund” sausages in milk rolls.

A cartoon was drawn featuring the sausages, but the cartoonist didn’t know how to spell dachshund, so he called them hot dogs. The name stuck.

A study done a few years ago indicated that Americans eat more than 16 billion hot dogs each year. They eat 150 million on the 4th of July alone.

We now know that, health wise, the hot dog has a bad reputation. It contains 14 to 16 grams of fat.

But we intend to eat them anyway, especially during the month of July. And that’s OK if you don’t eat too many of them on too many days.

Nutritionists at the Mayo Clinic recommend choosing a fat-free dog or one that has 2 grams of fat or less. They taste pretty good, especially with the toppings, and have only about 50 calories each,

The reduced-fat dog is their second choice. It contains 7 to 10 grams of fat and 100 to 120 calories. They are made with beef, chicken or turkey, but their taste isn’t necessarily better than that of a fat-free hot dog.

If you are a vegetarian, or someone who is limiting red meat, try the meatless hot dog. They are soy based with 0 to 6 grams of fat and no cholesterol. Condiments are needed to liven up the flavor. (All hot dogs contain 200 to 400 milligrams of sodium.)

Health experts recommend boiling or microwaving. Grilling can cause charring, which isn’t healthy.

Some other fun facts:

  • The meats used in hot dogs come from the muscles of the animal. Hot dogs may contain pork, beef, chicken and turkey, or a combination of meat and poultry. This meat is then mixed with water, garlic, salt, sugar, ground mustard, nutmeg, coriander and white pepper. Ultimately, it is cured and cooked.
  • Residents of Los Angeles ate more than 95 million hot dogs in 2012, more than any other city in America. One of the most famous L.A. hot dog stands is Pink’s. This family owned eatery has been in operation since 1939 and serves locals, tourists and celebrities alike.
  • Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, which began in 1916, has grown in popularity over the past several decades. The event, which takes place at Nathan’s hot dog stand on Coney Island every Fourth of July, attracts contestants worldwide and is broadcast on ESPN. The object is to eat as many hot dogs as you can in 10 minutes.
  • When King George VI and Queen Elizabeth made the first visit to the United States by a British monarch in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt welcomed them to his Hyde Park estate by hosting a picnic. At the picnic, FDR served the king and queen hot dogs. The picnic made the front page of The New York Times.
  • Baseball fans will consume more than 26 million hot dogs at US baseball stadiums this season. That’s enough to circle the bases 36,000 times.
  • The most popular hot dog topping among adults is mustard (87.6%). Among children, it is ketchup.
  • U.S. soldiers in military posts around the world consumed 2.4 million hot dogs in 2007.

Hot Dog Etiquette


  • Put hot dog toppings between the hot dog and the bun. Always “dress the dog,” not the bun.
  • Use a cloth napkin to wipe your mouth when eating a hot dog. Paper is always preferable.
  • Take more than five bites to finish a hot dog. For foot-long wiener, seven bites are acceptable.
  • Leave bits of bun on your plate. Eat it all.
  • Use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18.Mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili are acceptable.
  • Bring wine to a hot dog barbecue. Beer, soda, lemonade and iced tea are preferable.


  • Serve sesame seed, poppy seed and plain buns with hot dogs. Sun-dried tomato buns or basil buns are considered gauche with franks.
  • Eat hot dogs on buns with your hands. Utensils should not touch hot dogs on buns.
  • Use paper plates to serve hot dogs. Every day dishes are acceptable; china is a no-no.
  • Condiments remaining on the fingers after eating a hot dog should be licked away, not washed.
  • Use multi-colored toothpicks to serve cocktail wieners. Cocktail forks are in poor taste.

Other Strange Hot Dog Facts

  • 7-Eleven sells the most hot dogs annually at 100 million.
  • Dodger Stadium is hot dog heaven, selling the most hot dogs per year out of any ballpark in the country.
  • Despite the name, Hebrew National Hot Dogs are not actually kosher!
  • Food on the moon! Hot dogs were of the first food eaten on the moon. Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. ate hot dogs on their 1969 journey.
  • Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans consume seven billion hot dogs.
  • If you ask for a “hot dog” in New Zealand, you’ll get it battered on a stick like a corn dog. To get one on a bun, you have to ask for an “American hot dog.”
  • The world’s longest hot dog stretched 196.85 feet and was prepared by Japan’s Shizuoka Meat Producers in 2006.
  • Hot dogs cause about 17 percent of all food asphyxiation deaths in children under 10.