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National Hot Dog Month - Celebrate Texas Style!

Hot Dogs Enjoying a Dublin Bottling Works Orange Cream Soda with all-beef hot dogs
By Cheryl Hill-Burrier

July is National Hot Dog Month, and the Fourth of July is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year with approximately 150 million hot dogs being consumed.

Well get along little dogie!

This beloved invention is one of America's favorite foods, and so popular in fact that hot dogs have their own website -- hosted by the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. Subjects covered include everything you may have ever wondered about hot dogs, as well as yearly standings for the Top Ten Hot Dog Consuming Cities, which in shows that San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas tied for seventh place by spending a reported $32,994.49 on this famous dog.

As we all know, when it comes to inventions, there often seem to be more than one claimant and, though we may be unsure of the true inventor, we can trace the hot dog back to German immigrants in the 1800s. According to Bruce Kraig, Ph.D. and hot dog historian, the dachshund sausage and milk roll was served with sauerkraut by a German immigrant in New York during the 1860s.

As for the name - Kraig states that "hot dog" is attributed to cartoonist Tad Dorgan of the New York Journal. The year was and, during a baseball game at the New York Polo Grounds, Mr. Dorgan observed a vendor named Harry Stevens shouting out into the crowd "Get your red-hot dachshund sausages!" Not wanting to miss a great opportunity and unable to spell dachshund, Mr. Dorgan proceeded to create a cartoon illustrating a dachshund dog within a bun, and wrote the caption "Get Your Hot Dogs."

Whoever the inventor and however the name was branded, we're all happy to partake! But what about an answer to one of the most frustrating issues that has puzzled consumers for years. Why do manufacturers sell hot dogs in packages of ten while the buns (to go with them) sell in packages of eight? One reason is that meat is sold by the pound, and ten hot dogs total approximately one pound of meat. Buns (on the other hand) come eight to a package because they are baked in "clusters of four in pans designed to hold eight rolls."

Not to worry. Hot dog manufacturers now sell their products in packages of eight, ten, twelve or more and, though buns are (for the most part) still sold in packages of eight, larger packages are available.

So, what role have Texans played with this famous dog? Well, as is our reputation, if we Texans don't invent something, we're apt to make it bigger or better. But don't be misled by the name "Texas Weiner". It wasn't created by a Texan, nor were the two restaurants (claiming creation) located in Texas. The Texas Weiner is a hot dog topped with chili sauce, which reportedly originated in Altoona, Pennsylvania in , as well as Paterson, New Jersey in .

Who Invented the Corny Dog?

Fast forward now to the 1942 Texas State Fair, and you'll find brothers and Texans Neil and Carl Fletcher introducing their great invention, the Corny Dog -- or did they? Some say the brothers created this treat at their home and originally called it the "Carny Dog" with an "a" because they served food at carnivals. If it had originally been spelled with an "a", I wonder if it wasn't to combine portions of the two names Carl and Neil. Regardless, the mystery and debate continues.

According to author Linda Campbell Franklin, a "Krusty Korn Dog Baker" machine appeared in the 1929 Albert Pick-L. Barth wholesale catalog. These "Korn Dogs" were baked in a corn batter and resembled ears of corn. Then there's the "Pronto Pup" vendor at the 1941 Minnesota State Fair who claims to have invented the corn dog. Could it just be that Great Minds Think Alike?

If Texas pride does take hold, you can still find Fletcher's Corny Dogs at the annual Texas State Fair, as well as the Corny Dog Pit at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Or you can make your own from TexasCooking's corny dog recipe.

Hot dog is attributed to cartoonist Tad Dorgan of the New York Journal in 1901. Texans have also made their mark with the "Texas Dog" hot dog featured at the Minute Maid Park in Houston that's served with chili, cheese and jalapeños, which should not be confused with the "Tex-Mex Dog" topped with salsa, Monterrey Jack cheese, and chopped jalapeños.

Now that everything's as clear as a Texas mud pit, let's move on to the cooking and serving process. Cooking techniques for hot dogs are one thing, but how a hot dog should be served is an even bigger thing. Whether boiled, broiled, grilled, fried, or microwaved, the greatest dispute seems to involve the toppings and/or condiments. According to the Council, adults prefer mustard on their dogs, while children choose ketchup, in spite of Clint Eastwood's character Dirty Harry, who stated "Nobody, I mean nobody puts ketchup on a hot dog."

Well, toppings are a personal preference, and boy, are there a lot of preferences! New Yorkers like their dogs with steamed onions and deli-style yellow mustard, while the Chicago crowd like a poppy seed bun, and layer their dogs with yellow mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato slices, and top it off with celery salt – Badda Bing, Badda Boom – which means That’s All Folks! Texans, on the other hand, leave their options and imaginations open, but lean toward hot and spicy.

However served, there is a hot dog etiquette, which may seem as much an oxymoron as jumbo shrimp, but it exists. As it goes, the consumer must always dress the dog -- not the bun. Wet (mustard, ketchup, etc.) goes on first, then the chunky stuff like relish, onions or chili, and finally cheese or special spices.

Hot dogs have come a long way in the past 150 years or so, and are now available in a variety of forms including regular, jumbo, low-fat, fat free, all beef, turkey, kosher, organic, and flavored with honey and brown sugar, barbecue, Cajun, garlic, and so forth. However you like 'em, be sure and tell Cooky to load up the chuck wagon with all the fixin's and let's celebrate that little doggie Texas style!

Larry's Texas Hot Dog Relish

  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Roma tomato, finely chopped
Mix all ingredients together well. Place in a sealed container or jar and store in the refrigerator. Spoon relish over hot dogs. Makes enough for 6 hot dogs

Honey Batter Corny Dogs

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 pounds hot dogs (approximately 16 hot dogs)
  • 16 wooden popsicle or corn dog sticks
  • 1 quart cooking oil
  • Extra flour for dusting
Using a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Next, stir in the oil, beaten egg, buttermilk, honey and baking soda. Mix well, until smooth and set aside.

To ensure that the batter will stick, pat hot dogs dry with paper towels, and dust lightly with flour, coating the whole dog. Place wooden sticks into the flour-coated hot dogs and set aside.

Heat 1 quart cooking oil in a large pot or deep fryer until it reaches 375°F. Hold the floured hot dogs by the stick and dip into the batter, twirling until completely coated. If necessary, spoon some of the batter over the hot dog. Hold the batter-covered hot dog over the bowl and allow the excess batter to drip off. Quickly drop the hot dog into the hot oil and fry. Fry only a few hot dogs at a time, until golden brown. Remove them from the oil using tongs, and place on paper towels to drain excess oil. Continue until all of the corn dogs are cooked.

Serve with French Fries and Spicy Mustard Dipping Sauce (recipe below). Makes approximately 16 corny dogs.

Spicy Mustard Dipping Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cups yellow mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 teaspoons prepared horseradish
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Makes approximately 3-1/4 cups.

Summertime Sherbet Watermelon Dessert

  • 1 pint lime sherbet
  • 1 pint pineapple sherbet
  • 1 pint raspberry sherbet
  • 3/4 to 1 cup semisweet, mint or milk chocolate chips
Line a 1-1/2-quart bowl with piece of aluminum foil. Soften the sherbet and press the lime sherbet evenly against the bottom and side. Freeze uncovered for about 1 hour. Next, soften and press the pineapple sherbet over the lime and freeze for about 30 minutes. Lastly, soften the raspberry sherbet and mix a portion of the chocolate chips (watermelon seeds) with the sherbet, then pack into the center of the sherbet-lined bowl.

Press remaining chocolate chips into the top of the raspberry sherbet, cover and freeze until firm, about 8 hours.

To serve, place serving plate on top of the bowl and invert. Remove bowl and peel off the foil. (Note: Dipping the bowl briefly in hot water will make the sherbet slide out easily.) The sherbet will appear to be a half watermelon. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes about twelve 1/2-cup servings.

Sources: National Hot Dog ' Sausage Council

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