You've Been Eating Hot Dogs Wrong This Whole Time

Whether it's at a baseball game or a Fourth of July cookout, hot dogs have a long history in the United States that combines historical facts, urban legends, and cultural influences. The food was believed to have been introduced by German street vendors who immigrated to New York in the 19th century (via HISTORY). Hot dogs have found themselves becoming a popular snack for hungry Americans who are in the mood for something cheap and filling. But, no matter where you go, you'll find that every person and state has their unique way of enjoying a red-hot frankfurter — from the cream cheese and onions-stuffed Seattle dog to the chili and mustard-slathered coney island Dog. It is treated with respect as a classic American treat. There's even a National Hot Dog and Sausage Council dedicated to one of our nation's most sacred food.

The NHDSC has a wide variety of fascinating topics regarding the hot dog, such as recipes, beer pairings, the discussion of whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich, and even an etiquette section. Much like enjoying fine wine, this food must be enjoyed with an experienced palette and with knowledge on how to serve it — at least according to the NHDSC. No longer will you have to worry about seeming uncultured the next time you're chewing down a freshly grilled frank. By following these simple rules, you can enjoy that dog with all the class and style it was meant to be enjoyed with.

You should finish your hot dog in less than five bites

If you find yourself taking smaller bites than most people, there's a chance you haven't been eating your hot dog the right way. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council's Hot Dog Etiquette Guide, it shouldn't take more than five bites to finish one dog. However, if you're eating a foot-long hot dog, it is acceptable to finish it in seven bites. You also shouldn't leave bits of bun or beef on your plate either — after all, the hot dog is an American delicacy that shouldn't be wasted. 

Some other rules include how to properly dress up your hot dog, having a no-frills serving (no herbs or fancy dishes, just a paper plate will do), using a paper napkin to clean your mouth rather than cloth, and perhaps most controversially, giving up ketchup on your hot dog after you turn 18. This isn't just an NHDSC rule either; Clint Eastwood's Harry Callahan character held a deep disgust for those who taint their franks with globs of ketchup (via YouTube). According to CNBC, Chicagoans also have been pretty vocal about their disdain for ketchup, even blasting Heinz for trying to muscle in on their famous hot dogs. 

But before you go thinking eating a hot dog is all serious business, the NHDSC gives you one final rule to always remember: There's never a bad time to serve hot dogs.