"If you were to [walk] into any vendor of fine hot dogs, and ask for a hot dog sandwich, they would probably report you to the FBI." – Anthony Bourdain
It's a well-known fact that while nobody seems to have any idea where the hot dog actually originated, eating one (or two) is, hands down, the most American thing that a person can do this Fourth of July aside from blowing shit up. We the People devour somewhere around 150 million of those bad boys every Independence Day, which is presumably enough cylindrical meat to make them good old boys in Mississippi and Alabama pretty nervous. Rumor has it that's the reason the South lathers up their hot dogs with so many toppings. Got to keep those wieners adequately covered, or else somebody might call you a queer! But then again, every region of the country has its own bright idea of what a "real" hot dog looks like. New Yorkers like them straight out of a tank of smelly water, while Chicagoans have an affinity for neon green relish that looks like it was churned out at Chernobyl. I've even seen some real weirdoes off the beaten path throwing mashed potatoes and gravy on them. But that's the beauty of the hot dog. It's a blank canvas full of delicious possibilities. It's one that, regardless of a person's race, religion or sexual orientation, can be used to express oneself in a manner that our forefathers were hellbent on protecting when they signed the supreme law of the U.S. Constitution.
But there are rules, goddamnit!
We can't just have everyone out there going all willy nilly with their hot dogs. What are you crazy? Sure, the frankfurter might be an unofficial symbol of the American Dream, but putting the wrong kinds of fixings on one in certain parts of the country is a sure-fire way to get a man killed. I mean, what gives YOU the right? You wouldn't dare show up in Chicago asking a street vendor for a particular, "unspeakable" condiment, or else you might get sauce shamed like a motherfucker in front of a hangry mob of locals and perhaps chased down several city blocks and savagely beaten. And you’d deserve it, too, you dumb bastard!
It's the kind of thing that's so serious that it has been referred to as "foodie fascism" by some hipster journalists. But that doesn't make it any less real. It's even possible that you'll face the Gestation Gestapo this summer while hanging out at backyard festivities. So, get your head on straight, man. Considering the state of the nation right now, all it's going to take to incite another Civil War is someone screwing up a hot dog order. That means it's crucial to have all the details and get them right. Here is a definitive list of "do's and don'ts" when it comes to how to eat a hot dog. Study the fuck out of them. After all, if you make a mistake, you could find yourself having one removed from that fat ass of yours.
Toppings Rule, But Never Utter The Word Ketchup Or Else You’ll Die
Although ketchup is one of the most popular condiments in the United States when dressing a hot dog, most enthusiasts of street cuisine wholeheartedly believe that it's only for troglodytes, bottom feeders and five-year-olds. It's the one condiment that no one should even think about ordering on a hot dog while visiting Chicago. You'd have better luck getting a vender to give you a lap dance than convince him to desecrate his meat with a few squirts of the red goop. And while this part of the country is the most hardcore against dousing dogs in ketchup, there is a borderline moral opposition in most places that sell them. So, even though Uncle Jimmy might have allowed you to drown your hot dogs in it back in the day, you’re a fully-grown adult now. Mustard is how we do it.
Still, it’s pretty much carte blanche on the hot dog scene, really, as long as you don't ask for the dreaded K-word. Relish, onions, cheese and chili are basic, but always accepted. Yet, the toppings game can get somewhat serious out there, and it varies from city to city. Still, no matter where you are in the United States, no matter how out of touch you might be with the local flavors, you can never go wrong with the classics when topping a dog. When in doubt about condiments, just tell them: "I want what it comes with."
Steer Clear of BBQ Sauce. Beat The Shit Out Of Any Man Who Doesn't
I've witnessed one atrocity throughout the years that is far worse than putting ketchup on a hot dog, and that's smearing one with BBQ sauce. It's not exactly a request that most vendors are forced to contend with. It’s more of a Midwestern thing, popular at backyard outings where cheap beer and Lynyrd Skynyrd are served. It usually happens when the man of the house gets a little too drunk and bored standing over the grill. That's when he has a tendency to get liberal with the BBQ brush in his attempt to "spice them dogs up a little." If you see this man over the summer, you owe it to civil society to take him out.
Use Your Hands, You Fucking Sissy. Utensils Are For Wimps
It's perfectly acceptable to toss a couple of hot dogs on a paper plate and head for the shade, but don't even think about touching them with a fork and a knife. We get that you're trying to be refined, a better class of hot dog eater than the generations that came before you. Or maybe you're just one of those keto chumps that has given up bread in an effort to maintain your girlish figure. But trying to get all fancy pants with a hot dog is probably the one thing that’s going to get your ass kicked quicker than any scenario involving ketchup. Why not take advantage of one of the last chances we actually have in this country to get back to our Neanderthal roots and eat something with our bare fucking hands? Something tells me those days are numbered and we’re going to miss them. It is also worth mentioning that hot dogs are not for nibblers. The rules state (yes, there are actual guidelines for eating hot dogs) that your wiener should be finished in five bites or less. Incidentally, people chowing down on footlongs are given an extra two bites before the sausage police show up to chop off their balls. It’s also in bad form to leave pieces of the bun on your plate because you screwed the pooch when judging the bread to meat ratio. And don't let anyone catch you throwing parts of the hot dog away. Man, that's just sacrilege, and there’s a special place in the hottest regions of Hell for your kind.
Know What To Drink With Your Hot Dog, And No It’s Not Water
We can't believe we actually have to discuss this, but some of you are a little confused about what kind of beverage you should be using to wash down a hot dog. The answer is simple: It’s beer. Whatever brew you like is fine, just make sure it is cold, wet and contains alcohol. This is undoubtedly the most American way to eat a hot dog. Try going to a baseball game and asking for a Chardonnay and a footlong. You might as well insult the home team or try to finger the chef without consent. Wine and foo-foo cocktails just don’t exude the spirit of the hot dog. If beer isn't your thing, however, you do not have to eat your dog dry. You can always have one with other American staples like soda, iced tea and lemonade. That is as long as there’s a shot or two of liquor in there.
Come on America, get it right!