According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, in 2012, consumers spent over $1.7 billion on hot dogs in supermarkets alone. This doesn’t even include all the hot dogs purchased at baseball games and summer get togethers. There’s no question that Americans love their hot dogs! While the toppings may vary by region (in Chicago we like our hot dogs with onions, green relish, mustard, tomato, sport peppers, a pickle spear, and some celery salt!) hot dogs are enjoyed all across the nation.
Image via the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council
How Did the Hot Dog Get Its Name?
The term “wiener” originates from sausage makers in Vienna, Austria. The term “frankfurter” comes from sausage makers in Frankfurt, Germany. Both regions are credited with bringing a version of the hot dog to the United States. However, Americans made the hot dog on a bun popular and added unique toppings in different regions to make it their own. A “frank” is usually an all-beef hot dog while a “wiener” is usually made with pork. No matter what you call 'em, they're a staple American food.
The Hot Dog: An All American Food
According to recent survey data obtained by the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, each year Americans purchase 9 billion hot dogs at retail stores! The actual number of hot dogs consumed is even much larger but it’s difficult to calculate the number of hot dogs eaten at sporting events, backyard BBQs, picnics and carnivals. The Council estimates we consume a total of 20 billion hot dogs a year - more than twice amount sold in stores.
We consume about 70 hot dogs per person each year! With that many hot dogs being consumed we decided to dive into some of the different types of hot dogs available at grocery stores to see if we could get some insight into how people choose which hot dogs to purchase. A quick look into the Label Insight product data engine told us there are 1,568 sausage, hot dog and brat products available in grocery stores. About 25% of them are pork sausages (or wieners) and 20% of them are beef franks. Just under 10% are made of poultry and the remaining products (about half) are polish sausages, bratwurst, chorizo, or combinations of beef and pork.
How Are Hot Dogs Made?
We also learned some interesting facts about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations on hot dogs. For instance, the USDA requires hot dogs to be no more than 30% fat and no more than 10% water. Each package of hot dogs contains an ingredient statement listing everything in the product including any variety meats, which are rarely used anymore. We found this great video on how hot dogs are made which clears up common rumors, shows how hot dogs are regulated and inspected by the USDA, and more!
Celebrating National Hot Dog Month
National Hot Dog Day has been celebrated since the 1950’s and the American Meat Institute (AMI) has been having their famous Annual Hot Dog Lunch on Capitol Hill for over 40 years. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council was founded by the AMI in 1994 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
There has been confusion around the date of the official National Hot Dog Day because the day actually changes from year to year. This year, National Hot Dog Day fell on July 14th which was the day of the American Meat Institute (AMI) Annual Hot Dog Lunch on Capitol Hill. However, since the lunch has fallen on July 23rd a number of times over the years, this is often considered National Hot Dog Day. The Council says that “all month is National Hot Dog Month so celebration any day is welcome!” The Council even had some suggestions for retailers to consider such as offering a “build a perfect hot dog” display with regional topping options such as salsa or cheese.
With all the great hot dog options (and toppings!) available, how do consumers choose which ones to bring to their summer picnic? On its own, the product data may not explain which attributes drive sales. However, when you layer this with point-of-sale data the story becomes a lot more clear. By having all this information, brands and retailers can more accurately discover exactly what factors are driving performance.
Want to see how this works? We’d love to show you. Request a consultation call and we’ll take you behind the scenes of the Label Insight product data engine.