'Don’t Bring Wine to a Hot Dog Barbecue,' and Other Unhinged Etiquette Rules From the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council


Wei C./Yelp

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Wei C./Yelp

Hot Dog's 'It' Factor

I really thought I knew all I needed to know about eating hot dogs, but as it turns out, I’m wrong. Despite hot dog consumption being one of my top activities, it appears that I (and all of you, too) have been living as a rogue agent, operating outside of the NHDSC; that is, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Which is a thing.

Why is it a thing? Probably because we eat a lot of hot dogs in this country. More than 900 million pounds every year are sold in grocery stores alone, according to the Wall Street Journal, which recently proclaimed hot dogs “the ‘It’ restaurant order” of the summer.

We dove into the NHDSC's rules of etiquette in hopes of saving you some embarrassing frank faux pas (as they say, and the Council does say that). 

National Hot Dog and Sausage Council
National Hot Dog and Sausage Council

Hot Dog Etiquette

The NHDSC devoted an entire section of its official website to proper hot dog etiquette. Curious to see if you’ve been doing your dogs dirty? What follows are the official dos and don’ts for hot dogs, as given to us by Janet Riley, AKA, “The Queen of Wien.”

Nickname goals.

American Hotdog

Don't Use Cloth Napkins

Unless you’re eating a hot dog at somebody’s elaborate dinner party, I can’t imagine this will be an issue.

Tia’s Gourmet Sausage and Hot Dog
Moriah K. / Yelp

Don't Put Toppings Between the Hot Dog and Bun

The NHDSC starts off the "Don’t" list with a bang: “Don’t put toppings between the hot dog and the bun,” which I take to mean that you shouldn’t apply toppings before putting the actual hot dog into the bun. I’m not sure anybody is doing that, but I suppose it’s good to be safe. “Condiments should be applied in the following order,” it continues. “Wet condiments like mustard and chili are applied first, followed by chunky condiments like relish, onions, and sauerkraut, followed by shredded cheese, followed by spices, like celery salt or pepper.” 

Psst: If you're shopping for condiments, check out some of our favorite yellow mustards and the best honey mustard options from our taste tests.

kids eating hot dogs

Don't Take Too Many Bites

Apparently you’re not supposed to take more than five bites to finish a hot dog or seven bites for a foot-long. I’m sure that this is no problem for me because I’m an animal with no self-control, but I’ll also add my own personal “Don’t” to this list: Don’t count the number of bites you take to eat a hot dog. It’s psychotic.

Related: We Tried 10 Hot Dogs and You Won't Believe Which One Was Best

El Guero Canelo, Tucson, Arizona
Dan B./Yelp

Don't Use Fancy Buns

Sesame seed, poppy seed, and plain buns are all acceptable. “Sun-dried tomato buns or basil buns are considered gauche with franks,” the NHDSC declares, and I have to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sun-dried tomato hot dog bun in my life. No problem, y’all.

Related: The Cost of a Beer and Hot Dog at Every NFL Stadium

Chicago hot dog
lcruise / iStock
Vegetarian hot dog
Rimma_Bondarenko / iStock

Don't Put Herbs on the Same Plate

This one is by the far the most out-of-left-field: No fresh herbs on the same plate as a hot dog. What on Earth? I disagree fully. Did you boneheads forget about cilantro?

For more questionable eating advice, please sign up for our free newsletters.

Hot dog

Don't Use Ketchup ... After a Certain Age

Don’t use ketchup after the age of 18. I actually happen to agree with this one, but I would get rid of everything in that rule after the word “ketchup."

Still prefer to use ketchup despite your age? Check out our taste test to find the best ketchup out there.

Sonoran hot dog
Mudwater / Wikipedia

Do Eat Hot Dogs with Your Hands

This is almost never an issue, but restaurants these days have come up with some extreme hot dog dishes that are simply untenable with your hands. Keep utensils as a last resort, but don’t shirk them entirely.

Thank You Letter

Don't Send a Thank-You Note

My favorite rule of all: Don’t send a thank-you note after attending a hot dog barbecue. Though it’s not the NHDSC’s place to tell you when and where you can send thank-you notes, I will also agree with them on this one. That would be a really weird thing to do.

Several hot dogs on colored plates

Do Use Paper Plates

Use paper plates or everyday dishes. The NHDSC specifically points out that you should not serve hot dogs on your finest china, which I assume no human being has ever done.

Laithwaites Wine Club
Big Bite hot dog
Fork in the Road Foods Little Goodies

Do Use Multi-Colored Toothpicks for Cocktail Weiners

Cocktail weenies need toothpicks, not cocktail forks.

Hot dog vendor
the NHDSC infographics
National Hot Dog and Sausage Council

But Wait, There's More

Beyond the extensive "do" and "don't" list, there are plenty of other equally important hot dog resources. Infographics, press releases, quotes, and even a sausage glossary are available.

It's the one-stop shop, folks. These are people are doing important work.