What Are Hot Dogs Made From?

Hot Dog
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Frankfurter content is regulated by law in the United States. Traditional hot dogs are made of pork, beef, or veal. They are available with or without skins and may contain up to 30% fat and 10% added water. For vegetarians, there are tofu hot dogs.

Hot dog sizes range from about 2 inches (cocktail wieners) up to the famous foot-long hot dogs popular at sporting events. The most popular hot dog size is the standard 6-inch length usually sold in packages of ten.

Hot Dog Terms Regulated by Law

  • Beef or all-beef: Contains only beef with no soybean protein or dry milk solid fillers added.
  • Kosher: All-beef, usually heavily seasoned with garlic.
  • Meat: A mixture of pork and beef, usually 40% pork and 60% beef with no fillers.
  • Frankfurter: May contain up to 3.5% fillers and made from a combination of meats.

Hot Dog Style Glossary

  • Chicago dogs: Yellow mustard, dark green relish, chopped raw onions, tomato slices, celery salt and a poppy seed bun.
  • Kansas City dogs: Sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese on a sesame seed bun.
  • New York City dogs: Steamed onions and pale yellow mustard sauce.
  • Coney Island dogs: Topped with a spicy meat mixture.
  • Southern slaw dogs: Served with coleslaw on top.
  • Corn dogs: Placed on a stick, dipped in cornbread batter, and deep-fried.
  • Tex-Mex dogs: Topped with salsa, Monterey Jack cheese, and chopped jalapenos.
  • Pigs in a Blanket: Wrapped in pastry and baked.
  • Baltimore Frizzled: Split and deep-fried.
  • Lillies: Short for Lilliputians (from the Jonathan Swift novel Gulliver's Travels), these are about half the size of a man's thumb, also commonly called cocktail-size, and usually served as an appetizer in a sauce.

Hot Dogs Around the World

The popularity of the American hot dog has spread worldwide. In Russia, where they are known as sosiska, sales have skyrocketed from $122,000 in sales in 1992 to over $70 million in 1996. Russians prefer their dogs spicier, so those exported to Russia generally contain a lot more garlic.

The market is also expanding in China, where Rouchang is a fully cooked, cold hot dog wrapped in red plastic which is eaten like a popsicle, slowly peeling the red plastic down as it is consumed or warmed on a stick with no embellishment. No other country to date can keep up with Americans who consume over 20 billion hot dogs a year.