The beloved hot dog is a quintessentially American food, right? It's served ubiquitously on the Fourth of July and at every summer cookout across the country. It's topped with ketchup (unless you’re in Chicago) and mustard and relish and served at the ball game. There is even a National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. Well, while the history of the hot dog remains somewhat of a mystery (the frankfurter, which spawned our hot dogs, of course comes from Frankfurt, Germany, but no one can put a finger on how they evolved into the American "hot dog"), it is safe to say that this proudly American dish has made its way around the world, with every region putting their own unique stamps on it.
While we were busy debating Nathan’s Famous versus Vienna Beef versus Oscar Mayer, the humble hot dog was busy becoming French, Chilean, South African, Belgian, Chinese, and Icelandic. Of course, it’s easy to see why so many cultures would find it easy and enticing to put their spin on such a tasty dish. Nearly every cuisine has some type of sausage (or encased meat) and some type of bun (or encompassing breaded object), so from there, it’s a matter of adding on toppings that are typical of that place.
Even domestically, there are such varied hot dogs on offer from coast to coast. Take the Hawaiian hot dog, which is a baked round bun with a grilled sausage stuffed inside along with any number of regional toppings like fruity relishes or lemon garlic sauce. Or consider Guatemalan mixtas, which are hot dogs served in a tortilla, instead of a bun, and often topped with lettuce, avocado, mayo, and chile sauce. Further afield in Sweden, hot dogs are topped with mashed potatoes and a mayonnaise and shrimp salad, while in New Zealand they’re served more like corn dogs — completely dunked in deep-fried batter and served with tomato sauce.
We’re ready to accept the melting pot that has become the hot dog — it was always destined for more than just ketchup, mustard, and relish anyway. Which of these international dogs is your favorite, which are you enticed to try the most, and which seems the most… sacrilegious?