Hot Dog Daze

Hot dogs are the great American food for the great American pastime. No, I don’t mean baseball, but snacking! That’s this snackoisseur’s favorite pastime, after all.

Who can’t help savor munching on a red hot, fresh off the grill nestled in a steamed bun. Served with a dash of celery salt, some mustard and plenty of chopped onions, a hot dog is a delightful, easy-to-eat goody. Relish it with some relish — pickle relish that is — too, if that’s your preference.

Franks and beans

Dad used to make us franks and beans when I was a tot. He would boil a package of hot dogs and serve them swimming in a can of pork and beans. It was a saucy mixture, especially pleasing to the palate. We gobbled it down with gusto. To this day, it’s one of my favorite quickie meals to prepare on the go. And what little kid can resist a hot dog cut into slices to dip into ketchup.

Hot off the grill

Summertime holidays just aren’t the same without grilling some hot dogs – from Memorial Day and the Fourth of July to Labor Day. We had a gas barbecue grill when I was a kid, so it was no work at all to grill those dogs. They are especially tasty well done, with a nice crunchy skin over the juicy filling inside.

Once a month during the school year, we enjoyed “Hot Dog Days” which were organized by the PTA. We ordered in advance for up to two hot dogs and two snacks such as Hershey bars or Taffy Apples. With eager anticipation, we awaited the day when we received our orders. Those hot dog lunches sure beat the peanut butter and jelly, bologna or liver sausage sandwiches that we usually brought in our lunchboxes.

At the ball park

It’s hard to go to the ballgame and not enjoy a hot dog or two. “Get your red hots here, get ‘em while they’re hot!” the vendor calls out, knowing he is tempting the taste buds of most of the fans in the crowd. Wrapped in foil, they smell even better than they taste – and they better taste good, considering they cost $7 a pop.

Ballgame red hots, however, are not as good as the Chicago-style hot dogs sold at stands across the area. Chicago-style means NO ketchup. Instead the dogs are smothered with mustard, onions, tomato slices, relish and a pickle. The bun practically splits apart, it is heaving with so much food. A Chicago-style dog is my favorite way to eat my vegetables.  Just don’t forget the potatoes, French fried that is.

The Perfect Lunch

An eatery in Palos Heights makes an especially good hot dog wrapped with French fries. When I was working at a local newspaper in downtown Palos Heights, I enjoyed going there for a carry-out bag of hot dog and fries, and an Italian beef sandwich. I always ordered the hot dog with everything, including extra sport peppers. It was the perfect fast-food lunch.

The thing about hot dogs, however, is you don’t want to think too much about what they are actually made of. The ingredients are made up of plenty of innards, snouts and ears – even pig lips. But they look pretty enough in pink to eat without overthinking what’s inside.