I Still Love Hot Dogs

A recent roadside pit-stop in Hannagan Meadow, AZ.

Don’t call it a comeback.

Suffice to say, it’s due time these tasty little sausages received some extra love and attention. Our burger-dominated world has all but suffocated the hot dog.

Now relegated to the back corners of questionable delicatessens, urban food carts, stadium takeaway, and being the go-to quick fix for soccer moms galore, hot dogs have taken a virtual back seat in our ever-evolving culinary consciousness.

Don’t feed me lines about how you don’t eat hot dogs because they might contain varied, surly pig parts, or how you “don’t eat pork,” when you honestly have zero convictions against it.

Food shouldn’t be scary. So, get over it.

I personally prefer myself a pork filled casing, and there should be no excuses to the contrary. Without being laborious, pork hot dogs are OK to eat, and, often substantially more flavorful than other meat varieties.

Trust me, try one.

Pork aside however, from franks all-beef, to those kosher, turkey and veggie, there is still no reason the downtrodden hot dog shouldn’t (or couldn’t) be as popular or relevant as their fellow ground and bunned rivals.

In an era where gourmet burger bars are the ultimate in overdone trend-dom, it’s sad to see hot dogs continually placed on the proverbial back shelf of Americana. Hot dogs can be just as white collar.

As a little Justin who ate, I grew up on the real deal. Though in the beginning I admit that I liked my links “plain, with ketchup only please,” I have since evolved into a full-blown wiener disciple.

Hot dog talk, don’t get excited.

Sonoran Hot Dog (El Guero Canelo, Tucson, AZ)

The perfect frankfurter should have a firm casing that gives a light snap when you bite into it, and a rush of smoky, sweet and salty as you ingest it. I also love them grilled or griddled. Char only imparts added personality.

Personally, I love everything on my dog. Mayo, mustard, vinegary dills or neon relish, white onions, sauerkraut, hot sauce, you name it – I’ll top it, eat it and love it.

Politically, I also equally support our country’s most prominent regionals. It can be Chicago-style, a thickly frank covered in a variety of chunky, hearty accoutrements, the more sparely topped, thin and extra-long New York version, or the ever-growing Arizona or Southwest borderlands contribution to the global hot dog scene: the Sonoran Dog. Always wrapped in bacon, held in a pocket of soft bread (usually a traditional Mexican bolillo bun steamed or flat-top toasted) and smothered to your heart’s delight with, among many possible adventures, spicy roasted peppers, chopped onion, pinto beans, zig-zags of mayo and mustard, you name it. Seriously heaven-sent.

I also love a good chili or Coney dog, each take unique with their own respective blend of meat, spices, sometimes onions, sometimes beans (sorry Texas), often mustard, and hopefully always smothered with shredded yellow cheese on top.

I’ve expanded my borders across the Pacific, going generically Asian, with a schmear of spicy Chinese mustard, scallions and a lengthy drizzle of Sriracha.

Like I’ve always contested, gluttony as a cardinal sin needs revisiting.

May the hot dog hold its head high, rising from its lowly social castings, and re-take its rightful place in our culinary heritage.

Hot Dog on FoodistaHot Dog

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