Today, Sharon and I were discussing lunch at one of the plethora of good eateries located in and around Springfield when Sharon had an epiphany. We hopped in the car and drove a few blocks to the nearest Kum & Go for one of America’s great, all time meals; a hotdog, chips and cold drink. It was the perfect, quick delicacy on a sweltering afternoon. It is time we give the lowly hotdog the recognition it so richly deserves.
Haters will be incensed with my reasoning. There have been any number of effective, and if the truth be known, totally ineffective diets published in the last ten years. Most of these “healthy” regimens involve a form of the Mediterranean diet, namely green, leafy vegetables, olive oil, nuts and fruit. It is blasphemous to devour red meat and absolutely suicidal to consider any processed meat such as bacon, lunch meat or…..gasp…hot dogs. Is it fair to give such short shrift to the great culinary equalizer? Have we forgotten that President Roosevelt served hotdogs to King George VI at a picnic in 1939? History has recorded the fact that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin enjoyed hotdogs while they were en route to the moon. Rumor has it that even Haile Pomroy, the author of the best selling “Metabolic Diet” was seen at a baseball game with a handful of popcorn and a fat, juicy Ball Park hotdog, lavishly smothered in mustard. I am not sure where I heard this, or even if I actually did hear it…..but it seems entirely plausible!
Hotdogs are a foodies delight. There is no fuss or extra effort required to spear one of these delicacies with a green stick and hold it over a hastily gathered pile of burning driftwood on the banks of a float stream. A little ash and grit easily transports us back to those childhood days when clans gathered to enjoy the shade and discuss the latest family shenanigans. Hotdogs are the blank canvasses of the culinary world. Like ’em blackened, no problem. Who hasn’t stared incredulously at a so called “Chicago” style dog, smothered in kraut, jalapeños, mustard, dill seed and catsup? It is a rare person, indeed, who hasn’t made a meal out of hotdogs carefully split longways, delicately sautéed, served along side a heaping helping of Mac and Cheese. A couple of hotdogs, quartered and tossed into a pot of baked beans has been a staple menu item in any number of households dating back to the Great Depression. Only gastronomical purists can resist the aroma and taste of a fat Herbrew National hotdog, lightly sautéed and smothered in a favorite chili recipe. Adventurous? Toss a handfull of Vidalia onions on this masterpiece and a teaspoon of spicy mustard. Now you’re talking!
Hotdogs and baseball are synonymous. In America we consume approximately 10,651 hotdogs per game. A big number, to be sure, but it pales in comparison to the 20 billion or so hotdogs we consume annually, which works out to just about 70 hotdogs per person! A baseball game without a hotdog….unimaginable! A hotdog only serves to amplify the complexity of a favorite beer, another match made in heaven. While I am tossing numbers out there, Costco sells over 100 million hotdogs annually, easily 4 times the total for Major League Baseball, and has not raised the price of their premium dogs since 1985. Even more amazing is the fact that Costco, renowned for processing their meat products from hoof to display case, makes their own dogs.
Purists will turn away when you scarf your next hotdog. They will worry about the ingredients in your savory delicacy, and show no reaction to your preference of a Nathan’s over a Ballpark, or a Ballpark over a Hebrew National or the granddaddy of dogs, Oscar Meyer.
So, the next time you clutch an all beef wiener in a soft bun, anticipating that first bite of this salty delicacy, your smirk will tell the world that you just don’t give a damn what they think.
How good is that!