Hot dog


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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.

National Hot Dog and Sausage CouncilPhoto credit: 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? Here are the official dos and don’ts for hot dogs, as given to us by Janet Riley, AKA, “The Queen of Wien.”

Nickname goals.

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  • 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 mustard and honey mustard options.

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

  • 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 amount of bites you take to eat a hot dog. It’s psychotic.

  • “Little bits of bun” left on your plate aren’t tolerated, either. Clean plate club over there at the NHDSC.

  • 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?

  • 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.”

  • 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

  • Don’t bring wine to a hot dog barbecue. I’m going to disagree with this one as well, because even though it’s certainly not what I’d go for, I’m sure there are some wines out there that pair nicely. They say “beer, soda, lemonade, and iced tea are preferable,” which they are not wrong about, at least.

  • “Don’t ever think there is a wrong time to serve a hot dog,” reads the final “Don’t.” Way ahead of you on that one.


  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • Extra condiments on your fingers are for lickin’. No napkins.

  • Cocktail weenies need toothpicks, not cocktail forks.

They're doing important work over there. Keep it up, folks.

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