You've Been Eating Hot Dogs Wrong This Whole Time

Ranking right up there with cereal, hot dogs are probably the easiest food to assemble and eat. Place into bun and shove into mouth, right? Wrong. Well, at least, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, which is apparently a thing that even has its own acronym — NHDSC.

The NHDSC is actually a marketing extension of the American Meat Institute, which is "funded by contributions from hot dog and sausage manufacturers and those who supply them with equipment, ingredients and services." Essentially, it's the mouthpiece of Big Weiner, and it's really not happy with how you've been callously chowing down its most prized product.

Much like enjoying fine wine, hot dogs apparently must be enjoyed with an experienced palette and with knowledge on how to serve them. Lest you be viewed as uncultured the next time you're sucking down a chili dog, adhere to these simple rules so that you can enjoy these American meat tubes with all the class and style they deserve.

You should finish your hot dog in fewer 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's 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 of the NHDSC's other "rules" include how to dress your hot dog properly, 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 "Dirty Harry" held a deep disgust for those who taint their franks with globs of ketchup (via YouTube). Per 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 remember: There's never a bad time to serve hot dogs.

What is the NHDSC, anyway?

"Now, hold on a minute," you might say. "I've never heard of this National Hot Dog and Sausage Council before! Is this another government bureaucracy that's come to tell me what I can and can't do?" While it is true that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council is located in Washington, DC, it has no interest in taxing you for hot dog affairs or anything of the sort. The Council is actually a trade association founded in 1994 that represents the sausage and hot dog industry and all of its workers. It's supported by companies like Dietz & Watson, Hillshire, and Oscar Mayer, per the Meat Institute.

When not representing our America's meat industry, the NHDSC also offers insights into the hot dog craze that's sweeping our great nation. According to the Council, an astounding 75% of Americans prefer their hot dogs over the grill, while a paltry 2% prefer them microwaved. Meanwhile, 76% of Americans enjoy their franks with an ice-cold soda, with the classic cold beer following close behind at 54%. 

The NHDSC even takes a stand against the "tall tales" about myths of what exactly goes into a hot dog. Disregarding the rumors of pig hooves and offal, the NHDSC takes viewers on a video tour of a meat plant, showing hot dog-hungry citizens that nothing but real meat goes into their wieners. There's nothing in a hot dog that can't be found on the ingredients label, the NHDSC assures fans.

The NHDSC also weighed in on this hot dog debate

There's one hot dog-related topic on which fans may never agree: whether or not a hot dog can be classified as a sandwich. The hot dog debate has captivated everyone from Chef Carla Hall to the states of California and New York.

In a jocular 2015 announcement, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council declared that a hot dog is not a sandwich. "Limiting the hot dog's significance by saying it's 'just a sandwich' category is like calling the Dalai Lama 'just a guy.' Perhaps at one time its importance could be limited by forcing it into a larger sandwich category (no disrespect to Reubens and others), but that time has passed," NHDSC President Janet Riley said in the statement. "We therefore choose to take a cue from a great performer and declare our namesake be a 'hot dog formerly known as a sandwich.'" A separate NHDSC poll found that 57% of Americans don't consider hot dogs sandwiches.

But whether or not you think it's a sandwich, you'll be committing a hot dog faux pas if you take more than five bites to finish your frank.