Many families will celebrate the Fourth of July this year with a cookout, and the No. 1 food being eaten will be the hot dog.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council anticipates that Americans will consume 150 million hot dogs on the Fourth – enough to stretch from the nation’s capital to Los Angeles five times.
But a trend hints that Americans may be edging from hot dog heaven to dog-gone.
Megan Krauer and her friend Sandra Geronimo recently dined on gourmet hot dogs at Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace near downtown.
“I love that they’re all American and very summer,” said Krauer.
The hot dog was invented more than 500 years ago in Frankfurt, Germany.
But they became popular in the U.S. at an exhibition in 1893, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
But now, trouble could lurk beyond the bun.
A Chicago research firm says that hot dog sales have dropped for three years in a row.
Ohio State University agricultural economist Matt Roberts says changing demographics may take a bite out of hot dog sales.
“Hot dogs have always been something that were more kid-centric,” said Roberts. “When you look at population trends, a greater proportion of them are of ethnic minorities. And so, they’re also going to be less likely to eat hot dogs.”
He said they bring their favorite foreign foods with them to America.
In addition, Roberts said that American attitudes toward foods also are changing.
And it’s not enough for food to be cheap, abundant and safe.
“We want local. We want minimally processed. We want paleo. We want organic. We want natural,” Roberts said.
These terms are not normally associated with hot dogs, he said.
In the next 10 years, Roberts anticipates hot dog consumption to continue to drop.
But Dirty Frank’s managers say that hot dogs will never fully go away.
“It’s our guilty pleasure,” said Tonya Harris of Dirty Franks. “Everyone loves a hot dog.”
July is national Hot Dog Month.
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