The average American consumes 60 hot dogs a year, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Yes, that's a real organization.
What hot dogs may lack in nutritional value is made up for with cultural significance. In the power rankings of Americana, hot dogs rank somewhere between baseball and apple pie. The founding fathers may not have intended it, but encased meats have carved out a small yet important niche in American history (never mind that they originated in Germany).
Here are some of our favorite famous frankfurters.
The Chicago-style dog, a Midwestern staple, is packed with so many ingredients that it's often difficult to see the sausage itself. Typically, a Chicago dog comes loaded with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet relish, a dill pickle spear, two tomato wedges, pickled sport peppers, and celery salt. Chicago dogs can be found throughout the city, but the two most prominent spots are Portillo's and Superdawg.
Oh, it's also worth noting that requesting ketchup on a Chicago dog is a bit of a no-no. Some vendors don't even carry ketchup; others will roll their eyes and scoff at your request. Ah, that classic Chicago charm.
Despite popular belief, the Coney dog doesn't have anything to do with amusement park in New York - it's actually named for an early-1900s restaurant chain in Michigan. A Coney dog comes topped with an all-meat beanless chili, chopped white onions, and yellow mustard.
There are several local takes on the Coney dog, including Flint and Jackson-style (both cities are in Michigan). In these varieties, the base ingredients remain the same, but the seasonings and spices of the chili differ. There's also Cincinnati-style, which features Cincinnati chili, grated cheddar cheese, mustard, and just a bit of chopped onion.
Hot dogs topped with a sweet, mayo-based cole slaw are popular is the southern U.S. Some variations of this include chili slaw dogs and BBQ flavored slaw dogs.
Sonorans are a southwestern take on the hot dog. They come wrapped in bacon (now you're interested, eh?) and are served in bolillo rolls. They're topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, mustard, mayo, and jalapeños. Sonorans are popular in Tucson and Phoenix, AZ.
Dodger Dogs are - you guessed it - served in LA's Dodger Stadium and sold in nearby supermarkets. A Dodger Dog is all-pork and skinless, and the usual variety of condiments are available with it (relish, onions, ketchup, mustard, etc.). It gets bonus points for being a footlong dog.
Hot dogs, in their basic form, are the antithesis of gourmet, but that hasn't stopped plenty of restauranteurs around the country from concocting different types of gourmet dogs. Here are some notables.
Hot Doug's has become a legendary hot dog spot in Chicago, and its fame hasn't come via traditional Chicago-style dogs. Instead, owner and head chef Doug Sohn has crafted a menu full of items that includes brandy-infused duck sausage, beef and lamb gyros sausage with tzatziki, olives, and feta cheese, and even foie gras sausage. To say that Doug's pushes the hot dog's boundaries of gourmet and eccentricity is an understatement. Doug's is also know for french fries cooked in duck fat.
Unfortunately, Hot Doug's is closing its doors in October 2014. If you want to enjoy a fancy hot dog before it's too late, be prepared to wait in a block-long line outside the restaurant.
Renowned chef Daniel Boulud's NYC bistro is a play on CBGB the iconic 70s music club that once ruled the city. The legendary DBGB dog is made in-restaurant and is served on a bed of sauteed onions and topped with special "299" relish, frisee, and radish.
Ben's has been a rite of passage for D.C. tourists since 1958, serving up its famous "half-smoke" dog. The half-smokes is a half beef, half pork sausage that has a sweet taste when served plain. The best way to have one of Ben's half-smokes is chili dog-style, which means topping it with chopped onions, yellow mustard, and a healthy scoop of Ben's famous chili. The chili has a distinct bitter flavor, and though it isn't great as a standalone, it balances perfectly with the sweet flavor of the sausage. Its blend of flavor gives it a gourmet pedigree that most chili dogs can't match.
The drive-in chain is offering its All-American or Chili Cheese Coney Dog for just $1. The All-American comes served with ketchup, yellow mustard, chopped onions, and relish.
Downloading the 7-Eleven app will net you a coupon for a free 1/8 pound Big Bite dog. Download the app for iOS and Android devices here.
If you reside in one of the 13 southeastern states with a Kangaroo Express location, you can get a 25-cent hot dog between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. They're also giving free hot dogs to members of the military, so bring a military ID if you have one.
Last year, QuikTrip released a link to a printable coupon for a free hot dog on its website. They are yet to release it this year, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for the release of this year's coupon.