Things you don't want to know about hot dogs

Hot dogs signify grill season, ball games, and good ol' fun. With their satisfying snap when you bite into them, their juicy texture, and their way of mingling with mouthwatering toppings, hot dogs are indispensable at any half-decent cookout. That said, the hard truth about these good ol' meat sticks might turn your stomach. If you're not afraid of what you'll find out, read on.

Your hot dogs might have foreign objects (like glass) in them

When Time magazine conducted a deep dive into hot dogs, it found that the grill favorite has been reported to contain foreign objects that range from "surprising" to "gross but benign" to "downright disgusting." Some of the strange objects Americans have discovered in their hot dogs? Get ready. An ant, metal shavings, eyelashes, a needle, a dime, hairs, bugs, rubber bands, plastic chunks, and the list goes on. In May 2017, KTLA reported that 210,000 pounds of hot dogs were recalled nationwide after a slew of customer complaints about metal contamination. In the Time article, Janet Riley, the president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, said every effort is made to prevent foreign objects from finding their way into your hot dogs and that the industry is mostly successful given the large quantity of hot dogs produced. Still, "the tip of a razor blade"? I just lost my appetite, thanks.

Hot dogs are ripe for contamination

According to John Muir Health, hot dogs and other ready-to-eat meats are "frequent offenders" when it comes to food poisoning. In fact, the FDA emphasizes the importance of reheating hot dogs until they're steaming hot to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Just because hot dogs are pre-cooked doesn't mean they can't be contaminated "with Listeria monocytogenes after they have been processed and packaged at the plant." When the LA Times tested hot dogs purchased from local grocery stores in 1993, they found that 5 of the 30 products sampled, which included 19 different brands, tested positive for Listeria. Let's hope things have improved since then. While hot dogs are pre-cooked, be sure to reheat them to stay out of harm's way. Yikes!

Intestines in your hot dogs? No, thanks.

Did you know casings on hot dogs can be made with animal intestines? If you've been opting for the ones with "natural casings," be warned that au naturale means "intestines of sheep or lamb," according to Boyd Adelman, president of Sabrett. While it sounds pretty gross, these animal casings aren't all that bad: they're cleaned before being processed! Taste wise, they help keep the dogs nice and juicy. If this doesn't make you too squeamish, don't worry. Hot dogs only get grosser from here.

What about skeletal muscle?

This may surprise you, but the nutritional labels for hot dogs are kind of misleading. Yep. According to Discover magazine, most hot dogs contain about 50 percent water weight and only 10 percent meat. The meat often consists of skeletal muscle such as bone, collagen, blood vessels, and cartilage. If you were under the delusion that your barbecue-ready hot dogs are made with only the meaty parts of the animal, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you the less than savory truth. Mea culpa.

Oh, right, there may be some pig snouts, too ... NBD

Your hot dogs may contain ingredients such as "pig snouts, lips, heart, kidney, liver, and stomach." So that is the bad news. The good news? If they are in the hot dogs you're eyeballing at the grocery store, they must be listed on the packaging. Phew! Good thing you always check hot dog packages carefully for that kind of thing, right? Well, if you didn't before, I hope you will now.

Hot dogs contain tons of fat and sodium

No, hot dogs aren't exactly a health food. Eating meat sticks made with a hodgepodge of processed meats is never ideal if your pristine diet is of utmost importance to you. A standard Oscar Mayer wiener contains 14 grams of fat and 461 milligrams of sodium. That's a lot. Some hot dogs are slighter healthier, containing less fat and sodium. Read the labels carefully so you know what you're getting yourself into. Always sage advice, IMHO.

Making hot dogs is beyond horrifying

If you've never watched a video about how hot dogs are made and you enjoy eating hot dogs, maybe you should just skip the rest of this story and go back to cute puppy memes. If you perversely want to know the details, watch the video above. PeTA is happy to let you know that your beloved hot dogs are made by grinding up all kinds of meat and meat by-products, then pumping out a bizarre sludge that gets encased in the aforementioned intestine casings or in some other casing. Quote from Snoop Dog after viewing a video on hot dog production: "Every time I see a motherf*cker at a barbecue with a plate with a hot dog on it, I'm knockin' that sh*t out his hands." That is all.

Hot dogs contain a coloring made with beetle shells

Hot dogs have a nice pink color despite a strangely long shelf life. Hmmm. Suspicious, right? Well, in addition to preservatives, America's favorite grill meat contains a red dye called carmine, which is made with crushed shells of the cochineal beetle. (They're the white things on that cactus leaf above.) That's hard for me to stomach, tbh.

Two words: 'white slime'

What the hell is white slime? Well, it's a meat by-product that looks like batter or sludge. According to Forbes, pink slime is the meat you think your hot dogs are made with — lean beef, for instance. In other words, white slime is the unsavory filler that makes up the rest of the nation's go-to phallic barbecue meat.

Someone once ate 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes

A real human being named Joey Chestnut once ate 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes. I don't know about you, but I find these numbers at once grotesque and oddly admirable.

Ready to throw a few dogs on the grill?