A frank discussion


Hot dogs get a bad rap. While lots of people like to malign the tube steak, hot dog sales continue to sizzle and the humble street meat has had a gourmet makeover in many cities including Denver and Chicago and Toronto.

What are you fave hot dog toppings? I like to ‘kick it old school’ as the kids used to say: all beef dog, grilled until the skin is crunchy and ready to burst, on a soft, eggy bun with ketchup and ballpark mustard. That’s it. Mmm!

Here are some other classic and not-so-classic suggestions for the more adventurous among us:

Canadian: wrap the dogs in a slice of bacon before grilling and then drape in Cheddar cheese before serving.

Zen: brush dogs with soy sauce while on the grill and then serve with wasabi mayo, pickled ginger and green onions.

Trafalgar Square Indian: top grilled dogs with mango chutney or Branston pickle.

Normandy: slather caramelized onions all over a grilled dog and drape with a slice of double cream brie.

How do you feel about hot dogs – love ‘em or despise ‘em? Has your hot dog consumption changed in the last few years? And, if so, how?

33 Responses to A frank discussion

  1. Great photo, Dana.

    You’re going to hate me, but I don’t like hot dogs no matter what you put on them. In part, it’s the spongy bun? But mainly, I skip the dogs because they repeat on me for hours and hours.

    Processed meat and my stomach do not get along. I’ve made peace with this long ago. But I’ll take a double portion of caramelized onions all on their own!

  2. danamccauley says:

    Mmm! Onions!

    Do you eat sausages Char? I love good quality fresh sausages on a bun as well. I also tried those ‘thindini’ hot dog buns a while ago and I can see them being a better choice for non-squishy bun fans (how’s that for a grammatically wacky sentence!?).

  3. Amanda Laird says:

    Hot dogs are another food they’re crazy about in Iceland. There are more places to get a hot dog in the tiny city of Reykjavik than there are hot dog carts in TO. They top them with ketchup, remoulade, French fried onions and “hot dog sauce”, which is a brown, mild mustard. Hot dogs in Iceland are boiled, not grilled, which is the way I prefer them — especially with a squishy bun!

  4. danamccauley says:

    Fascinating Amanda! My grandmother used to make boiled hot dogs for my brother and I all the time when we were little – what a blast from the past! It’s been years since I even thought of boiling a dog.

    BTW: check out Julie’s post today that includes info about Bison Smokies – now, that sounds good!


  5. Sheri Morgan says:

    I love hot dogs, they bring back memories of childhood and home. My mom still makes them for my dad EVERY Saturday. I eat them occasionally, and now that you can buy the microwaveable singles, I don’t have to wait for the water to boil. I love the top-sliced buns that taste like bread, but they’re hard to find.

  6. Caroline says:

    The greatest hot dogs I’ve ever enjoyed were in Kingston, ON at Top Dog. I haven’t been to Kingston since the early 80’s and I suspect it has long since disappeared, but oh those dogs live on in my memory. A beautiful snap to the bite, hidden aged cheddar in the middle, homemade condiments on the counter. I’ve never tasted anything since that came close. With all the Listeriousis scares and finding out that basically Maple Leaf makes every weiner sold in the supermarket – well they are off my diet for now. If anyone can offer a place in TO to enjoy a real dog, please share!

  7. danamccauley says:

    Caroline, check out Buddha dog in the west end. (BTW, I vaguely remember Top Dog, too since I went to Queen’s in the late 80’s).

    Sheri – your dad and mom sound like my kind of people. I’m not fond of those microwave dogs though since there is so much packaging.

  8. truenorth67 says:

    I’ll eat the odd hot dog (in a rush) but I still prefer a good sausage and would serve sausages (not hot dogs) to guests.

  9. Andrea says:

    Street dogs always smell better than they taste.

  10. Barb says:

    I rarely have a hot dog anymore. (Cholesterol issues) I wait until the craving comes through the fog in my brain and I remember how I used to enjoy one once in a while. Then I have one. I like weiners boiled or steamed with mustard and either relish or pickles. We now have a French Bistro in town that serve them with mustard and a lightly pickled slaw. Very good. Smokeys are another once upon a time enjoyment that I like bbq’d or fire roasted on a stick with mustard. Oooo I can smell tham cooking now!

  11. I would be a hotdogaholic if only someone would make them healthy. Why can’t someone create a really tasty veggie dog? Why can’t the buns be wholewheat? Why can’t someone design a gourmet dog made with really healthy meat rather than a casing for fat, toxic preservatives and sodium? Please, someone, save the hot dog! Make our street meat something for Toronto to be proud of rather than a dietary disgrace.

  12. dinnerwithjulie says:

    Grilled please, so that they’re nice and crispy. On a soft bun, with yellow mustard (no Dijon!) and ketchup. And if it’s available, asparagus relish from Edgar Farms.

  13. danamccauley says:

    Asparagus relish, you say…that sounds good Julie!

    Margaret: from your lips to the food god’s ears!

    Barb, I have a fire pit in the backyard of the TK – drop by anytime. I even have a long handled hot dog ‘fork’ we can use to cook up our hot dogs.

    Andrea: you are totally correct – I always want one and then wonder why I bought one after I take the first bite.

  14. Morgan says:

    As bad of a wrap as they get I still love ’em. Especially barbecued!! I like them nice and crispy on the outside with that charred flavor. I have to admit that I like mine “old school” too!

  15. Cheryl A says:

    Funny, I made hot dogs for dinner last night. Julie served them to The Monster last week and I found out she likes them. Not much of a taste adventure, but sometimes food just needs to be fun. Personally, I prefer a smokie loaded with sauerkraut and mustard, but a classic all beef hot dog with ketchup and mustard is the way I like ’em. I tried some Galloway all beef dogs last night – they were fantastic!

  16. Patti H says:

    I don’t eat hot dogs all that often, but they always taste better at a stadium! I kick it old school, too – ketchup, mustard, and maybe cheese.

  17. The bison smokies Julie sampled last night at the Country Drive media launch are a product of Big Bend Bison, available through Big Bend Market in Red Deer. Owner is Ivan Smith, phone 403-341-2344.

  18. Diva says:

    I’ll take mine with brown mustard and chopped raw onion!

    I hate to say it but I love hot dogs. I only eat them when I’m visiting my parents because they can be cooked out on the grill and my favorite brand – nay, the only brand I’ll eat – is a local CT /Northeastern dog. Hummel’s – they are the best!

  19. danamccauley says:

    We used to be able to get Kwinter’s dogs easily here in Ontario but I haven’t seen them in a while. They were really good! Anyone see them in their area or are they gone, baby, gone?

    Kathleen, thanks for the info on the Bison Smokies. Let me know when they are available here in Ontario. : )

  20. Heather says:

    I dislike hot dogs…actually they dislike me, or is it my stomach that dislikes them…maybe my stomach dislikes me…(Um, I think I stayed up a bit too late)

    When I used to eat them, I ate them with Kechup, relish, a little mustard, and onions (preferably sauted).

    At camp we made hot dogs with a slight twist on the “Canadian” we slit the dogs open and placed a slice of processed cheese in them then wrapped the bacon aroud…the bacon helped hold in the cheese until it started to melt…didn’t like it much, but then cheese and me don’t get along that well.

  21. Natashya says:

    About once a year, when we are downtown in the city, we get a hotdog off a cart. A guilty yet delicious pleasure. I am all for yellow mustard and onions, they are the most important. If they have it, I add hot peppers and green olives too. I don’t care what my breath is like after!

  22. danamccauley says:

    Heather, you’re too funny! My cousin Ellen and my brother used to make hotdogs that way. They called them Whistle Dogs.

    I never even thought of olives on my hot dog Natashya – I’m going to give it a try!

  23. Maris says:

    I don’t love hot dogs but I do love baked beans and since they pair well together, sometimes it seems like a good idea to eat a hot dog!

  24. cheryl says:

    Did you try the reindeer hot dogs from Biker Jim’s when we were in Denver? He had elk ones, too.

    I like straight up hot dogs with mustard. And I fundamentally don’t understand the appeal of hot dogs with ketchup. Why, why, why?

  25. Danielle says:

    I just had a Santa Fe dog the other day- hot dog smothered with New Mexico red chile, cheddar cheese and raw onions on a soft, melt in your mouth bun. Yum!

  26. danamccauley says:

    Mmm….baked beans!

    Mmm…Santa Fe dog!

    Cheryl, I didn’t get to go to Biker Jim’s but Lia told me it was fantastic. What did you think of them?

  27. I first avoided hot dogs when I heard stories about weird ingredients but stopped eating them completely a few years back when I started learning more about how our meat is raised in North America. That said, there are some new purveyors who do a great job. Lets Be Frank out in California is one, they are using top quality, grass-only, well-raised (& slaughtered?) pork and beef.

    But I’m hardly a purist. Street dogs (sausages, really) esp. one vendor on Queens Quay – I love them smothered in ketchup, mustard, and relish, the classics. And now, sadly, I have a craving for one of those sausages, crispy skin, yum.

  28. Sue says:

    Oh! I want to try a hot dog with caramelized onions and Brie. I never would have thought of that!!

  29. danamccauley says:

    Sue, I’ll put caramelized onions and brie on almost anything! Heck, evey cardboard would taste great topped with that combo!

  30. Amy says:

    I get hot dog cravings every once in a blue moon…Then again all I ask for is either a hot dog w/ ketchup, or hot dog with cheese…Tho’ I wouldn’t mind trying Hot Doug’s hot dogs…*Chicagoan here!*

  31. Kevin says:

    It has been a long time since I last had a hot dog. I generally prefer flavoured sausages. I really am going to have to get around to try some street meat here in Toronto.

  32. danamccauley says:

    It’s a rite of passage everyone needs to experience.

  33. Ashleigh says:

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