Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Hot Diggity Dog, by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Our July blog topics are niche marketing and National Hot Dog month. No contest for me as to which one to write about -- marketing is definitely not the favorite part of my job but I'd happily eat a hot dog anywhere, anytime, as long as it has mustard, onion, and pickles.

I'm in good company. On the Fourth of July, more than 150 million hot dogs are consumed in the U.S., and between Memorial Day and Labor Day, more than 7 billion hot dogs are eaten! Millions of people tune in on the Fourth to watch Nathan's Famous hot dog eating competition live from Coney Island. Joey Chestnut won again this year, eating 71 hot dogs in ten minutes.

I'm in good author company too. Mo Willems included a tale of this tasty treat in his picture book series with "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog," and Tom Watson did too, with "Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog." What a great title.

Growing up in a north suburb of Chicago, the best place to get a classic dog was Poochies. As the years passed, I've frequented such notable establishments as Weiner Take All, Frank 'n Fries, Frankly Yours, Portillo's, Irving's, Weiner's Circle, Super Dawg, Fluky's, and Wolfy's. Wolfy's even gave out little hot dog shaped gum with each order.

Just writing those names for this post brings back delicious, mouth-watering memories.

So what is it about hot dogs that Americans love? Food historian Bruce Kraig says that hot dogs are one of the most humble foods and a symbol of America. You can find them at baseball games, carnivals, beachfront concessions, and picnics. New Yorkers eat the most hot dogs, more than any other U.S. city. Mustard is the most popular topping.

Rachael Ray offers up some new twists on the old favorite with these 20 recipes. Check out her buffalo onion dog, taco dog, and hot dog flautas. And here are some fun hot dog party recipes, including hot dog sliders with mango-pineapple salsa and cheddar corn dog muffins.

In fact, a hot dog can actually be a metaphor for good writing! Just go with me here.

A hot dog has to be juicy and pop when you first bite into it, like the hook that grabs a reader. Condiments and toppings add personal flavor, and each one can be different, like your characters. And the bun holds everything together, tucked in neatly like a well-written plot with a strong beginning, hearty middle, and satisfying end.

And don't forget the fries -- a salty and essential subplot.

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of four middle grade novels. Her fifth will publish next year from Penguin Random House. Visit her at micheleweberhurwitz.com.