Hot dogs are a classic New Jersey crowd-pleaser. From Rutt’s Hut to Jimm Buff’s, they have been a quintessential Garden State staple for many years, and no baseball game or 4th of July barbecue party would be complete without them. But, despite their widespread popularity, we don’t actually know where they first originated or who we have to thank for this delicious concoction. Some experts believe that frankfurters originated in Germany, while others suggest that they first came from Austria. Some say New Jersey even pioneered variations such as the chili dog and Italian hot dog. Despite the debate, we venture outside our Garden State limits to explore a few uncommon facts.
1. Frankfurters Were Sent to Space
Astronaut food has changed a lot since the earliest days of human spaceflight. For example, in 1968, Apollo 7 astronauts complained that they didn’t like the freeze-dried ice cream they were served in space, so the novelty dessert was removed from the space program. A year later, on the Apollo 11 voyage to the moon, crew members were served thermostabilized frankfurters, which they have reportedly enjoyed with a thermostabilized cheddar cheese spread. Few foods taste good after taking a trip to outer space, which speaks volumes about the deliciousness of these mysterious sausages.
2. The Residents of Los Angeles Consume the Most Hot Dogs
You’d think that Midwestern residents would be the ones who consume the most franks, seeing as how they are known for their renowned BBQ style, but the top consumers of frankfurters are actually Los Angelenos. Each year, the City of Angels burns through 31-34 million pounds of hot dogs, of which a massive chunk is consumed at Los Angeles’ Dodgers Stadium by die-hard baseball fans. While the city surely loves its frankfurters, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City are not far behind on the list.
3. The World’s Most Expensive Frank Costs $169
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s most expensive frank is the Juuni Ban, which costs a whopping $169, around 100 times its average cost. Forget mustard and relish, this ridiculously expensive frank comes with fancy toppings like caviar and shaved black truffles. Served in a brioche bun, the footlong smoked cheese bratwurst is also topped with teriyaki grilled onions, foie gras, wagyu beef, maitake mushrooms, and Japanese mayonnaise. To try this stupendous treat, serious foodies will have to endure a long waitlist, as the chefs require at least two weeks’ notice to source and prepare the ingredients.
4. The Record for the Most Franks Eaten in a Contest Is 74
Legend has it that the first hot dog eating contest was held in 1916 to set a bet over who was the most patriotic, but the first contest to ever be recorded took place in 1972. The winner at the time ate 14 franks in 12 minutes. In 2018, competitive eating legend and reigning champion of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, Joey Chestnut, set a new world record, devouring 74 franks in 10 minutes. That’s over 12,000 calories, the equivalent of 4 thanksgiving dinners! How is that even humanly possible? Well, it takes a lot of preparation; competitive eaters practice stretching out their stomachs by drinking gallons of water or milk in a matter of minutes or quickly gobbling up large amounts of filling, high-fiber foods like oatmeal and wholegrain bread.
5. There’s a Certain Etiquette to Eating Frankfurters
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, a part of the American Meat Institute, there’s a right and a wrong way to eat a hot dog. As per their guidelines, you shouldn’t top your frank with ketchup if you’re over 18 years old. Mustard, onions, relish, chili, and cheese are acceptable, though. Further, it should only take you 5 bites to consume the entire thing unless it’s a footlong frank, in which case you can take 7 bites. Using eating utensils is also a big no-no, and so is placing the frankfurter on a fancy bun.
Isn’t it fascinating how a simple dish mainly consisting of a sausage encased in two buns can have such a rich history! What first started as working-class street food in the US quickly became a staple in most American homes. Today, it is considered one of the most popular dishes across the world, and for good reason. Not only are hot dogs easy to cook, but they are also very affordable, and they go well with a wide array of condiments and garnishes.