Skip to main content
Thursday, July 23 2015
What's in a hot dog anyways?

You have heard the false rumors before I am sure.. 

"Don't eat hot dogs because they put all the nasty stuff in them like beaks, tweeks, hooves and floor scraps".

I worked for 8 years in two plants that made materials for hot dogs, one chicken plant and one beef plant. We made combos (2000 lb boxes on a 4ft by 4ft pallet) of chicken and beef that we sent to hot dog manufacturing companies.  This raw material did not come from "floor scraps",  it was every bit as USDA inspected wholesome and fresh as any other meat we made including steaks, burgers, blsl chicken breasts and other whole muscle cuts. 

I have visited over twenty hot dog manufacturing plants, all of them USDA inspected.  Hot dogs are made very simply.  Meat is ground up with a fine grinder, pushed into a casing (more on that below), placed into a smoker/cooker, cooled and packed into user friendly packages.

Hot dogs are already fully cooked when you get them.  Don't confuse them with uncooked Italian or German sausage links (also very tasty but not fully cooked most of the time).

Hot dogs used to be made from natural casings, meaning the intestine skins of pigs. Nowadays they are made with artificial casings, meaning man-made plastic casings. Casings hold the meat in the hot dog, form the shape and size, and allow them to be handled in the smoker/cooker easily.  Artificial casings are removed from hot dogs with a "skinner" at the plant, so you don't eat or see the casing on a hot dog like you do on a sausage, brat or link.

Hot dogs come in economy, mid-range and premium prices and brands.  In general the more espensive the hot dogs, the more the raw materials cost to make them.  So all beef hot dogs cost more than pork hot dogs and pork hot dogs cost more than chicken hot dogs.  All beef hot dogs cost more than those make with beef and pork.  

I like all hot dogs as long as they are smoked in a smokehouse.  Check the label for "naturally smoked" or to see that smoke flavoring wasn't added artificially if you want a premium smoked hot dog.

And whatever you do, DO NOT put ketchup on your hot dog.... You will ruin it!  Mustard only (unlesss your'e a kid, then anything goes)!

What's your favorite hot dog?  


Posted by: Gregory Bloom AT 05:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email