National Hot Dog Day is a magical, mystical day that comes once a year. I never need an excuse to eat one, but it’s an added bonus to expect zero judgment in eating as many of them as I can for the next twenty-four hours. That being said, I think it’s important to re-fill you in on the history of the hot dog, largely out of respect for such a majestic foodstuff, but also just ’cause. Here is a quote from myself on this same day one year ago, which I am quoting because I still agree:
If I were on Jeopardy and I was asked who invented the hot dog, I would probably say Kip Tindell, Chairman & CEO of The Container Store upon its opening in 1978, because let’s face it, hot dogs are basically just tubed containers of meat. (And then Alex Trebek would go, “NO!” and I would go “WHATEVER.”) But don’t worry, you guys, ’cause I totally Googled “hot dog”, and now I know some stuff. While no one really agrees for sure about when the hot dog was first invented, I would like to go ahead and gloss over the part in which one of our most patriotic American foods was a resident of Germany; instead, let’s skip straight to the part where a German guy called Charles Feltman allegedly started to sell hot dogs on Coney Island. (Other people (including ANOTHER guy who was called Harry M. Stevens) are credited with inventing the hot dog, but I like Coney Island, so Charles is officially the winner of the title.) Ever since that day, everyone everywhere has enjoyed hot dogs always and forever, because anyone who doesn’t like eating hot dogs was ostracized. (Just kidding / I wish.) And now you maybe know some stuff about hot dogs?”
We do, thanks 2014 Megan! And now I will move on to the future, which is now. For starters, I’d like to quickly point out that Pixels (the horrible-looking movie about classic arcade games attacking Adam Sandler and other people I don’t care about) is set to premiere tomorrow, and so I would like to take this opportunity to right a wrong (a wrong that has been done to classic video games) by paying tribute to both hot dogs AND video games from my childhood in one sweeping motion. *INSERT SWEEPING MOTION HERE*
And so without further adieu, I give you…
Pacman is the ultimate classic arcade game, and I wanted to be as true to it as humanly possible without destroying the integrity of the hot dog. Toppings simply include Froot Loops as the ghosts, and a single Cheez Ball to represent Pacman, both of which provide a satisfying crunch. The irony is that all of these things will go into your mouth. You are the new Pacman. Think about that.
I grew up in a Sega-as-opposed-to-Nintendo household, and the blasphemy is not lost on me. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy playing the shit out of games like ToeJam and Earl, or in this case, Sonic the Hedgehog. If you recall, Sonic fucking LOVED him some golden rings (they were his life force, after all), and so I decided to highlight that by topping this hot dog with Funyuns, which (if you are somehow unfamiliar) onion rings in chip form. (PS, fuck Dr. Robotnik, that guy was a real dick.)
Mortal Kombat was undeniably a gore-fest, but that was also part of the appeal, wasn’t it?! “FINISH HIM!” followed by ultra-graphic portraits of your opponent’s demise = time well spent. I wanted to recreate that gore in a delicious and also fun way, so here we have a hot dog topped with mashed honey + ginger beets. Added bonus? You will look like you were in an IRL fight after you eat one of these guys // BLOODY TEETH VIBES FOR THE WIN! (Footnotes: if you don’t like beets then you will not like this hot dog, and also I will not like you.)
The Donkey Kong (or should I say DANKEY KANG…) is comprised of two key ingredients: 1. plantain chips (no, I am not a monster who would make you eat raw banana slices on a hot dog) and 2. BANANA KETCHUP, THE FILIPINO CONDIMENT-GIFT TO THE WORLD! I think you could only improve this hot dog by drinking a quarter water to wash it down, because #BARRELS.
Thank god for Mario, or else I might never have had a valid excuse to top a hot dog with a heaping mound of spaghetti. This is the perfect fuel for an Italian video game hero, you guys…it’s got carbs on carbs (plus I am assuming that hot dogs contain at least SOME protein), all of which is crucial in going forth to take to the sewers to combat pixelated evil. We went with a no-frills pasta in marinara sauce situation here, although I will note that the spaghetti was boiled in the hot dog water for an added bit of JE NE SAIS QUOI. (MAMA MIA!)
And there you have it! All of the calories and none of the Adam Sandler! It is a National Hot Dog Day win if I have ever seen one! But maybe you are the type of person who is too lazy to go about making your own hot dogs, in which case I will provide you with some shortcuts to take on this holiest of days via my four favorite local spots to grab a wiener:
This small Bethesda spot has the best hot dog in town, and here’s the real shocker: their best dog is a veggie dog! It’s an Italian veggie sausage, which means it is full of Italian flavors like oregano and red pepper, and it has a great, meaty texture. Some of you may not even know that it is vegetarian! Get it Chicago style, with mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, and pickles on a poppy seed bun. Then pair it with some fries and you’ll be celebrating National HotDog Day to the nines. -Priya Konings
Hot dogs are meant to be sucked down in defiance of one’s gag reflex, much like cheap beer. Studies have consistently shown that the more you savor your hot dog, the more likely you are to die like a small child eating legos. Ergo, best place to get hot dogs? Bravo Bar on Georgia Avenue in Park View. Thought up by bartender Robin Brock, Bravo enervates the generic beer-and-a-shot combo by giving you a hot dog for a dollar (making it five bones for the whole shebang) and encouraging you to end your awful day at work by cramming processed meat down your throat with abandon, followed by whiskey and a Natty Boh. Followed by more hot dogs and more whiskey and more Natty Boh. It’s so great that even this (lousy at it) vegetarian does it. -Legba Carrefour
Costco (or Price Club, if you’re really cool)
If you haven’t tasted the awesome that is a Costco hot dog, you need to get yourself over to the DC location as soon as humanly possible. I’m serious. First of all, it’s delicious, and I don’t even like hotdogs. I spent most of my childhood skipping out on hotdogs in favor of their superior cousin, the hamburger (If it wouldn’t kill me, I would seriously eat a hamburger a day for the rest of my life), but as soon as I tried a Costco hotdog I was hooked. I don’t know what the hell the Costco does to their hot dogs, but I’m pretty sure they’re injected with heroin. Plus, they’re only $1.50 with a soda. For real. I can’t even think of a cheaper meal. I mean, at those prices how can you afford not to buy one? Also, the great thing about the DC Costco is that it also sells liquor, so you can pop by for a Kirkland brand hotdog and pick up a couple handles of $14 Kirkland brand vodka. It’s a match made in heaven. -Kaylee Dugan
Being from WV, anywhere I can proudly get a proper West Virginia slaw dog with out judgement is almost heaven to me. DC3 specializes in regional hot dogs from all over the country – the Classic NY Coney Dog to the bacon wrapped Tuscan Sonoran. If you’re really feeling bold get the Q’s Seoul Bulgogi and Kimchi – it’s actually large enough to share and only $5. -Allison Lane
In the aftermath of the burger craze that swept though our nation’s capital a few years ago, it is only appropriate that the lowly hot dog is the next food renaissance to grip the guts of our city’s citizens. “Frankly”, there are a number of options in the DMV area where you can get your fix for frankfurters. Everyone knows D.C.’s vanguard half-smoke, it would be too easy to name Ben’s Chili Bowl as my favorite hot dog. Worth mentioning is Eastern Market’s DC Three, dive bar Ivy and Coney’s Chicago/Detroit style dogs, Bethesda’s Big Bite, and even the Whole Foods in Friendship Heights has a gourmet hot dog bar.
If you want to go for the full-fatty experience I highly recommend a gem nestled away in my old stomping grounds of Montgomery County, enter Greatest American Hot Dog. With a menu that boasts over 25 varieties of wieners this is a place that jumps leagues and bounds past your general hot dog. You want a dog wrapped in curly fries? Done. You want bulgogi on that joint? Of course. How about a pastrami, reuben dog? Child’s play. This place is determined to give you a coronary before you succumb to the itis that is inevitable to take place once you house your hot dog. You have over 25 choices of toppings to go along with your heart attack, so get creative and move past the atypical ketchup or mustard and let your culinary inhibitions run wild when you order. -Seannie Cameras
My husband and I went camping the other weekend with a bunch of friends, including Sarah Gordon and Sheila Fain of Gordy’s Pickle Jar. They showed up with a cooler full of Red Apron Dogs + buns and their own Sweet Pepper Relish; those forces combined made for what is hands down my favorite DC hot dog situation. –Morgan West
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