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Is the Hot Dog America's Favorite Food?

Alex Van Buren

Is the Hot Dog America's Favorite Food?

Photo credit: © StockFood / Norton, Jim

What is it with hot dogs? They’re not as juicy as burgers, and they don’t inspire the battles that pizza regionalism does, but the news this week has us wondering whether dogs trounce the other contenders for the title of most-popular (or at least most nostalgia-inducing) American food.

Encased meat maestro Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s launched (what felt like) a thousand tweets with the announcement that he would shut down his iconic Chicago dog joint this October. (Fairly typical response: “WHAT!????!!!!!”)

Then, at perhaps the fanciest of the black-tie James Beard Award after-parties—the one hosted by four-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park and attended by hotshot chefs Grant Achatz and Daniel Patterson—the fare consisted of pretzels and Sabrett hot dogs, sold right from their carts.

None of the frankfurter fandom is new, of course. It stretches back a ways: ”When King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England visited President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt at their estate in Hyde Park, N.Y. in the summer of 1939, they had a picnic with hot dogs,” noted The New York Times in 1988.

Since the ’80s, we’ve witnessed the boom of artisanal dogs at higher price points, from lamb to pork to veal. But as is true of other things, even low-brow dogs are good dogs.

Like blue jeans and crisp white shirts, beer and doughnuts, hot dogs are simply never going to go out of style. And with baseball season upon us in full, all-American force, we’re calling it a good time to be dog-sessive.