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A hot dog (also spelled hotdog), or frankfurter, frank, or wiener, is a cooked sausage, traditionally grilled or steamed and served in a partially sliced bun. Typical garnishes include mustard, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, relish, coleslaw, cheese, chili, olives, and sauerkraut. Hot dog variants include the corn dog and pig in a blanket. The hot dog's cultural traditions include the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
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This type of sausage was culturally imported from Germany and popularised in the United States, where it became a working-class street food sold at hot dog stands and carts. The hot dog became closely associated with baseball and American culture. Hot dog preparation and condiments vary regionally in the US. Although particularly connected with New York City and New York City cuisine, the hot dog became ubiquitous throughout the US during the 20th century, and emerged as an important part of some regional cuisines (notably Chicago street cuisine).
Common hot dog ingredients include:
Meat trimmings and fat, e.g. mechanically separated meat, pink slime, meat slurry
Flavourings, such as salt, garlic, and paprika
Preservatives (cure) – typically sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite
Pork and beef are the traditional meats used in hot dogs. Less expensive hot dogs are often made from chicken or turkey, using low-cost mechanically separated poultry. Hot dogs often have high sodium, fat and nitrite content, ingredients linked to health problems. Changes in meat technology and dietary preferences have led manufacturers to use turkey, chicken, vegetarian meat substitutes, and to lower the salt content.
Hot dogs are prepared commercially by mixing the ingredients (meats, spices, binders and fillers) in vats where rapidly moving blades grind and mix the ingredients in the same operation. This mixture is forced through tubes into casings for cooking. Most hot dogs sold in the US are "skinless" as opposed to more expensive "natural casing" hot dogs.
Natural-casing hot dogs
As with most sausages, hot dogs must be in a casing to be cooked. Traditional casing is made from the small intestines of sheep. The products are known as "natural casing" hot dogs or frankfurters. These hot dogs have firmer texture and a "snap" that releases juices and flavor when the product is bitten.
Kosher casings are expensive in commercial quantities in the US, so kosher hot dogs are usually skinless or made with reconstituted collagen casings.
Skinless hot dogs
"Skinless" hot dogs must use a casing in the cooking process when the product is manufactured, but the casing is usually a long tube of thin cellulose that is removed between cooking and packaging. This process was invented in Chicago in 1925 by Erwin O. Freund, founder of Visking which would later become Viskase Companies.
The first skinless hot dog casings were produced by Freund's new company under the name "Nojax", short for "no jackets" and sold to local Chicago sausage makers.
Skinless hot dogs vary in the texture of the product surface but have a softer "bite" than natural casing hot dogs. Skinless hot dogs are more uniform in shape and size than natural casing hot dogs and less expensive.
Home-cooking hot dogs
Hot dogs are prepared and eaten in a variety of ways. The wieners may be boiled, grilled, fried, steamed, broiled, baked, or microwaved. The cooked wiener may be served on a bun (usually topped with condiments), or it may be used as an ingredient in another dish. Various models of hot dog toasters exist that cook the hot dog and buns by toasting.