I skewer a hot dog with a fork and raise it out of the boiling water. But I can’t leave this hot dog intact. We do not have the proper buns in the house. Tears well up in my eyes as I am forced to slice it in two, placing the two stumpy halves besides each other on a hamburger bun. When tragedy strikes, your true self comes out. I am a fighter. I will eat this hot dog on an improper bun.
There are very few things more tragic than a hot dog without a hot dog bun. It can be a typical fluffy bun or one of those cheap-o buns that just looks like a long, folded piece of Wonder Bread. I don’t care. As long as it is meant for a hot dog.
Hot dog buns are important because nobody likes an isolated wiener. The job of the hot dog bun is not to enhance the taste of the steaming-hot frank, but to mask it behind some melt-in-your-mouth gluten. Condiments serve the same purpose. The ideal hot dog is one in which you can tell you are eating some sort of meat, but can’t really make out what it tastes like.
My favorite hot dog is a combination of elements I would not eat out of a hot dog context: a bun, a weenie, sauerkraut, and ketchup. Eating a spoonful of ketchup would gross me out. Eating a hot dog alone makes me feel somewhat ashamed. I like sauerkraut, but I wouldn’t sit down and eat a bowl of wet fermented cabbage.
I think I am supposed to be scared of hot dogs, but I am not because I have a lot of faith in random departments of the U.S. government that I do not know much about. I don’t know exactly what animal parts are in a hot dog, but I am fairly sure that those parts will not kill me, and that’s enough.
The scariest thing about hot dogs is the possibility that my dad will make some without first checking if there are hot dog buns in the house. This is a frequent issue. You have to really dedicate yourself if you want to have a satisfying hot dog. You must commit to about a dozen hot dogs and buns that are specifically made to hold them. But my family does not always make the commitment. Sometimes, by the time we realize that there are no hot dog buns, the hot dogs have been boiled and there is no turning back.
If hot dogs were meant to be eaten alone, they wouldn’t also be called franks, wieners, weenies, tube steaks, sausages, and bangers. I don’t want to eat a tube steak. That’s gross.
Hot dogs (on proper bun, with sauerkraut and ketchup, at a cheap price): 6.7/10
Lonesome wiener: 4.0/10