10 things you might not know about hot dogs

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Roasted over the fire, grilled on the barbeque or fresh from the ballpark, there’s no denying it: hot dogs are a fan favourite any time of year. Now a North American staple, the frankfurter sausage was originally derived from Germany. They called their smaller sausages “dachshund sausages” or “little dogs,” and before long the term “hot dog” was created.

Whether you prefer them blackened over a campfire or sliced into your Kraft Dinner, here are 10 things you might not know about the little dog.

1. The hotdog has many different names. Depending on where you are in the world, you might call it a frankfurter, frankfurt, frank, wiener, weenie or a tube steak.

2. Hotdogs are one of the largest choking risks among children. Believe it or not, the friendly Oscar Meyer is a huge choking risk for young children. In the United States, 17 percent of food-related asphyxiations can be explained by hot dogs. Their unique size, shape and texture make them extremely difficult to get out of the windpipe. 

3. You can eat them raw. Unopened, packaged hot dogs are actually precooked. Realistically, they could be eaten raw (which is good news for any eager roasters). But like other luncheon meats, hot dogs have a high chance of containing listeria. This bacterium infects humans and other mammals through contaminated food causing Listeriosis. Therefore, ensure you boil or heat your hot dog at a high temperature before consuming it.

4. We eat a ton of them. In 2012, consumers spent more than $1.7 billion on hot dogs in American supermarkets. It’s projected that baseball fans alone will purchase up to $20 million in hot dogs this year.

5. They’re full of it. Hot dogs are usually composed of meat (whether it be beef, pork, chicken or turkey trimmings), meat fat, preservatives (such as sodium nitrate), and flavorings like salt, garlic, and paprika. Some brands also add cereal filler such as oatmeal, flour, or breadcrumbs. Although this makes a cheaper dog, more and more manufacturers are eliminating fillers in an attempt to market their dogs as gluten free.

6. They are a classic. Hotdogs really are a classic. It is reported that hot dogs were sold by German vendors in New York City as far back as 1860.

7. They’re made from leftover parts. This is true. Hot dogs are traditionally made from meat trimmings which are essentially the leftover parts from cutting pork chops or steaks or chicken breasts. The parts are then ground and churned into a soupy mixture which is then pumped into casings.

8. The biggest one is 60.3 metres. The world record for longest hotdog was recently set by the Alaska Prince Hotel in Tokyo in 2006. After the record was set, it was cut into pieces and enjoyed.

9. They are astronaut approved. Hot dogs are a NASA-approved regular item on shuttle flights, Skylab missions, and Apollo moon flights.

10. They’re a staple of the competitive-eating circuit. American Joey Chestnut holds the current record in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest for downing—and keeping down—a gut-swelling 69 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes.