Falling in Love Again With America’s No. 1 BBQ Food: Hot Dogs

Hot dog with mustard, ketchup, relish, onions, and potato chips.
Hot dog with mustard, ketchup, relish, onions, and potato chips. Lew Robertson / Getty Images

THEY HAVE NO shortage of haters. And, sure, you don’t want to dwell on what the pseudo sausages contain. But check your reservations at the door, because hot dogs deserve respect.

 

 

For one, they’re the great culinary equalizer. Popularized in the early 20th century, they helped get us through the Great Depression, yet President Roosevelt thought them suitable enough to serve to King George VI at a picnic in 1939; Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong enjoyed a few en route to the moon.

More importantly, they’re a means to exercise our creativity, a blank canvas upon which to garnish chili, mustard, or sauerkraut.

They are unfussy, simple, no less enjoyable on hastily planned camping trips than at a Fourth of July cookout. And absolutely nothing tastes better at a midsummer baseball game. They demand little of us—just a few minutes over a fire—but deliver ample, consistent flavor. Though faux sophisticates may scoff at the franks, eating one remains the finest nonverbal way of telling the world that you just don’t give a damn.

This article is part of our Summer School series, a comprehensive guide to acing the year’s best season.