Can We Please Solve the Hot Dog Problem?
Not every issue we face is a crisis or life-threatening problem. And not everything can be solved by politics and legislation. Some things continue to vex us for reasons beyond understanding.
In this case, I am referring to the American hot dog.
No, not whether we should be eating them or not. I leave that national dialogue to the dieticians, the doctors, and the vegans – and I pay no attention to them. I have been a frequent consumer of those meat-in-a-bun since I could eat solid food. I recently calculated that my lifetime consumption of hot dogs exceeds 10,000.
I am not using this commentary to address the controversy over which city has the best hot dog – with the debate largely between the New York (Nathan’s) crowd and the Chicago (Vienna) people. There are a few others promoting their local versions (a white hot dog?), but they are not even in the majors in the wiener war. For the record, the classic properly garnished Chicago Vienna all-beef dog (pictured above) wins hands down.
No, there are two issues that need to be resolved. One is very old – and the other more recent.
The first is the longstanding issue of the number of hot dogs in a package (6) and the number of buns in a package (8). That meant you have to purchase two packages of dogs with each package of buns. Of course, then you have four more dogs than buns.
I recently purchased a package with six buns only to discover that the folks at Oscar Mayer have dropped their hot dogs per package to four. That leaves two more buns and dogs.
As if the bun-to-dog ratios were not bad enough, there is now a more recent issue with the size. The dogs have shrunk. When you prep your hot dog, there is usually an empty bun at both ends. Why can’t the bakers and the hot dog makers talk to each other?
Now I find on the shelf something they call “bun length” dogs. These are longer and fill the bun better. However, they look a lot like the regular dogs of yore. So now we pay extra to get a dog that fits the bun.
And speaking of cost. Hot dogs – by net weight – are starting to approach the cost of a T-bone steak.
None of this has reduced my consumption of Chicago-style hot dogs – and never will. I just thought I should share the challenges we hot dog connoisseurs face in the pursuit of our passion.
So, there ‘tis.