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).