Friday, July 06, 2007

The Rocket Fever Hot Dog Debate

Muir and Gaines, Las Vegas, 2006

Pat Muir, a longtime friend to Rocket Fever, sent me this missive yesterday detailing his categorical policy regarding hot dogs and their proper condiments. I'll post Pat's position today, and then make my response in a few days. Feel free to let the comments fly. This is a patriotic time of year after all, and issues like these deserve vigorous debates in an open democracy.


I sent this to a co-worker who wrote a hot dog feature for the Fourth. I thought of you because, if I'm not mistaken, you put ketchup on hot dogs. This practice disgusts me and, to be completely honest, has been the one barrier to you and I really connecting on every level.

Here it is:


I enjoyed the hot dog story. As you may have guessed from my robust American physique, I am myself a fan of franks.

I wanted to offer a possible follow-up idea, perhaps for next Fourth of July. I came up with it when I noticed ketchup on the dog in the photo: As someone who's spent a little time in Chi-town, you are no doubt aware of the great ketchup debate. It is, in my opinion, the only real issue in the weiner world. (see note below)

It is a matter dear to my own heart. As a bit of a traditionalist, at least when it comes to condiments, I am firmly in the no-ketchup-on-hot-dogs camp. This is not merely a matter of personal preference (unlike my general aversion to mayonnaise, which I grudgingly admit is not innappropriate on fowl or even ham, though I must draw the line at using it on any sort of beef -- especially corned) but an idea about the right way to do things. Ketchup on a hot dog is like a sweater on a puppy -- disgusting to everyone except the oblivious person who thought it was a good idea in the first place.

On a certain level, the ketchup debate is not about hot dogs and condiments, not about food at all. It's about believing there is some sort of order in the world. Believing that in the midst of humanity's gray area, surrounded by relativism moral or otherwise, that there is sometimes a clear distinction between good and bad -- a right way and a wrong way -- and that people have a choice between them.

Does this mean that people who put ketchup on their hot dogs are bad people? In a word, yes.

Anyhow, something to think about next year.

Patrick D. Muir

Yes, I know, there's also the sauerkraut and grilled onions issue, but I think most reasonable people agree that was settled back in 1997 at the annual Frankfurter Expo (FYI, the industry agreed they ARE complementary and CAN both be used on the same dog).


Becky Amos said...

I must disagree with Pat. Nothing could be better or tastier than ketchup on a hot dog. Are you saying the ketchup/mustard combo is a bad idea as well? Personally, I think neglecting ketchup, when dousing the unfortunate remains of a pig with condiments, is just plain anti-American.

The City Desk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The City Desk said...

When it's a situation with only the basics available, it's ketchup and mustard for RJ White.

The all-time preference, though, is for Detroit Coney-style (preferably Flint variety), something barely heard of here in Phila. Their local version is a "Texas Tommy," which involves wrapping the hot dog in bacon and cheese. Barbaric.

The best hot dog availability situation, sadly, exists only in fiction:

Pat said...

The Flint v. Detroit coney is a whole other debate. If they're both available, I usually order one (read "two") of each.

Of course you wouldn't put ketchup on those, either.

H.J. Heinz said...

Pat, you are an idiot. The real villain is Mean Mr. Mustard.

The City Desk said...

Of course you wouldn't put ketchup on those, either.

Oh no, of course not.

The best course of action is to get a Flint dog with fries covered in Detroit sauce.

Jesus hell, I wish I were at Sparty's Coney Island right now.

Anonymous said...

Check out this guideline from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council's etiquette page:

Use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18.
Mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili are acceptable.

Craig said...

Hold up, now. The Texas Tommy sounds suspiciously close to Great Haven's antler, which we all know is an ear of corn wrapped in bacon and dipped in melted cheese.

Dr. Hot Crap said...

there is no way any self-respecting, non-communist American would ever in the history of pressed meat put ketchup on a hot dog.

if you've ever been to cleveland municipal stadium -- or in latter days, the jake -- you know you'll be booed lustily by a cleveland fat man (or thin man, if it's me) for putting ketchup on yer dog.

caveat: if you must put ketchup on yer dog, please do us the favor of dipping the dog in lake erie first.

Haystack Calhoun said...

never, never, never, never put ketchup on a hot dog. stadium mustard required, onions, chili and cheese (though Hot Crap will pass on the last) optional.

pat said...

Two titans of manhood weigh in.

First, Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in "Sudden Impact":

"You know what makes me really sick to my stomach? It's watching you stuff your face with those Hot Dogs! Nobody - I mean nobody puts ketchup on a Hot Dog!"

Second, Chicago's foremost authority on everything, the late Mike Royko:

"No, I won't condemn anyone for putting ketchup on a hot dog. This is the land of the free. And if someone wants to put ketchup on a hot dog and actually eat the awful thing, that is their right.

"It is also their right to put mayo or chocolate syrup or toenail clippings or cat hair on a hot dog.

"Sure, it would be disgusting and perverted, and they would be shaming themselves and their loved ones. But under our system of government, it is their right to be barbarians."

Hayley said...

Ketchup. Ketchup, my god, Ketchup. Ketchup all over this nation and its hot dogs. Ketchup on everything, really. Fish - certain kinds of fish, particularly the breaded and fried variety - ketchup. Ham - ketchup. Burgers, hot dogs, eggs, hash browns (all types of potato, actually), asparagus, corn, babies, potted plants. Ketchup.

Anonymous said...

You bastards just had to go there. I have been dying for an American hot dog (preferably a kosher from U.S. Cellular Field) since I set foot on Japanese soil. The shit here is like a really weak sausage. So while all you ketchup losers fight a losing battle, I want all the real hot dog fans to wolf down a kosher dog slathered in grilled onions and mustard in my honor.

The ONLY way to go.

Ketchup. Get real.


Erin D. said...

I find the mustard-only elitests to be totally arrogant. I can make this bold statement because I have been married to one for several years. He is currently trying to poison the minds of our young children by only offering them mustard with hot dogs, tater tots, lollipops, etc. I have even found him hiding our ketchup bottle.

I'm on your side Craig! Ketchup is kool!

Craig said...

This is officially the most contentious discussion in RF history, and I haven't even posted my formal reply yet!

You can see ketchup orientation is a Gaines family trait. Thank the paterfamilias for that.

somebodytogobackintimewith said...

Cook is on point: Kosher w/grilled onions and mustard from Sox Park is the best hot dog there is. I won't kill you for being wrong erm, disagreeing. But you are living in sin if you do.

somebodytogobackintimewith said...

You know what on second thought, I will kill you.

Erin D. said...

Oh heck...I spelled elitist wrong. Sorry about that all you journalism folks. Very shameful.

Dr. Hot Crap said...

gaines, there's nothing to contest. if ketchup were a worthy adversary, then i'd grant you there is a lusty debate.

but due to ketchup's second-class -- nay, pariah! -- status, there's nothing to discuss.

mustard is the cheese.

Solari said...

Ketchup certainly does not need you unsophisticates to eat it. It does just fine as the condiment of choice by most of normal society. Royko and Eastwood are Commie bastards who have no say in my world. And if you don't like ketchup, you support Al Qaeda.

Craig said...

Solari, representing the Keystone State!

The ketchup treatise is coming soon, friends. Hold on to your buns.

Rick C said...

I could not put it more simply than "Theh Straight Dope" website, but the essence of their article (which I agree with) is that ketchup is so full of sugar that it completely masks the amazing flavor of an all-beef frank.

Solari said...

The term "all-beef frank" also masks the actuality of which parts of the cow are used to make said hot dog.