Maybe you’ve heard a rumor or two about how a hot dog is made. Perhaps a hot-dog hater friend turns their nose up at the “left-over” animal parts as you enjoy your relish covered foot-long at a barbecue. Have you ever secretly wondered if they were right? Now you can see what really happens to bring baseball’s favorite snack to life.
The video at the end of the article by Qapla, takes you backstage at a hot dog factory and gives you the, somewhat surprising, truth about what really goes on your bun.
The traditional hot dog, a relative of the German sausage, contains chicken, pork and beef. Ironically, your nagging friend may be right about at least one thing: the base of the hot dog is leftover meat, or trimmings, (usually from steak or another cut of beef).
After the beef trimmings are ground, processed chicken trimmings, cornstarch, salt and other flavors are added to the batch. (Hot dogs also contain corn syrup). Depending on the type of hot dogs you purchase, the trimmings in your dog may be a bit different, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
One fun fact: the seasonings added to hot dogs vary based on where you live because different regions have different taste preferences, according to How It’s Made.
Once the ingredients are blended, they are pushed though a machine that removes all the air from the batter. The mixture at this point looks unappetizing, but it doesn’t stay in that form for long.
The hot dog mush is pushed through a stuffing machine filled with cellulose tubing and the links of hot dogs file through a smoking shower into an oven. (The tubing is marked to show which hot dogs have not been cooked yet).
While they are still hot, the hot dogs are then coated with cold salt water. A machine removes them from the oven and sends through another machine that removes the previously applied casing, and dumps them into a a pile to be inspected, packed and shipped.
If the hot dog process makes you a little uneasy, you’re not alone. The World Health Organization classifies processed meats (like hot dogs, ham and corned beef) as carcinogenic. While consuming hot dogs in abundance could lead to cancer, eating them in moderation is considered safe.
Every Fourth of July, Americans nosh on about 150 million hot dogs. The city that eats the most hot dogs (hint: It’s not New York!), is Los Angeles. Residents here eat more than 34 million pounds of hot dogs per year, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council reports.