When we think of health food, beef hot dogs may not be what pops to mind first. Contrary to the bad rap these meat sticks get, hot dogs are better for you than you may think.
The typical hot dog has grown to be part of the American experience, from baseball games to amusement parks to backyard barbeques. They have a unique smoky and savory flavor that can satisfy anyone from young children to adults. They are also extremely affordable and quick to prepare, making them a popular American classic.
Whether you’re an avid hot dog lover or someone who enjoys them now and then for special events, you may want to know the nutrition facts and calorie count of a hot dog.
Keep in mind, a classic hot dog is a perfect base for endless topping and condiment choices resulting in nearly limitless options for extra calories.
This article explores everything you need to know about the hot dog and shows you truly what a weiner it is.
History of the Hot Dog
Even though hot dogs are such an iconic American food, they did not originate here in the United States. They were actually from Germany, which introduced frankfurters to the U.S. in the 1800s. German immigrants came to America and brought their culinary culture with them. Charles Feltman, a German immigrant, started a small hot dog stand on Coney Island and, what was known as dachshund sausages, grew to popularity. They were named dachshund sausages after a similar shape to the dachshund dog.
Hot dogs were initially made from only pork, but now there are many different types of hot dogs. The modern versions of the sausage contain beef, pork, chicken, turkey, tofu, soy, or a combination. Hot dogs grew to be an iconic American food when Chris Von de Ahe brought the world of hot dogs and baseball together.
They are affordable and easy to eat food that can be enjoyed almost anywhere. Even though hot dogs are the victim of many false rumors and anti-meat activists, hot dogs are an iconic American food celebrated for a whole month. July is National Hot Dog Month , which celebrates the food cart classic in many different ways, such as a hot dog eating contest, dog races, and more.
Because of the affordable price and the questionable practices of the meat industry of the past, hot dogs have shifted into a negative light. Some anti-meat activists and hot dog haters coin hot dogs as mystery meat sticks or other unappetizing names to deter people from eating them. Even though the meat does sometimes look like alien parts, you can rest assured that it is real meat that you are eating.
Some people may be skeptical of hot dogs because of how affordable they are. Even though cheap is not always a positive term, when it comes to hot dogs, it provides a quick and convenient bite to eat. You can rest assured that there is no dog in your hot dogs or any other mystery meat parts. While anti-meat activists may hate on the hot dog, there are plenty of meatless alternatives that do not take away from the iconic American classic.
You may have seen the pink slime videos circulating through the Internet, and even though it may look unappetizing, the process of making hot dogs and ingredients are all completely delicious and safe to eat.
How Hot Dogs Are Made?
Due to all the misleading headlines and rumors about the hot dog, some may not be sure how hot dogs are made. We take a look at how hot dogs are made to be completely frank and honest about the whole process.
The hot dog process starts with carefully selected meat trimmings, depending on the type of sausage. Even though trimmings may sound a bit questionable, they are pieces that you can typically find in the grocery store. These trimmings of real meat are then thrown into choppers made from stainless steel that blend at high speed. Spices and curing ingredients are added to create the meat mixture. The emulsion is then pumped into a machine that shoots the meat into its casings.
Some companies use traditional natural casings that create a satisfying crunch when eaten. Other companies choose to use cellulose casings instead, which are removed after cooking. After filling, the dogs are moved to the smokehouse to cook in perfect conditions. Usually, the hotdogs are smoked, which gives them their unique flavor and color.
After cooking, they are cooled in water to stop and preserve the cooking. If the dogs have the popular cellulose casing, they are then peeled and sealed automatically to maintain their freshness. To ensure safety and transparency, the package lists the ingredients and nutrition facts, including the calories.
The entire process is meticulously regulated to make sure they are safe to eat by the US. Department of Agriculture.
Are Hot Dogs Healthy?
While hot dogs may not be the most healthy thing to eat, they are a lot better for you than you may think.
Especially with high-protein diets and keto diets on the rise, hot dogs can be a convenient and affordable way to get your protein intake. It definitely can be unhealthy if it is topped with fatty condiments or toppings like french fries or chili. But a plain old hot dog is relatively healthy. One beef frank can contain up to 5 grams of protein, and there are even more nutritious alternatives with leaner or plant-based protein.
Some are also worried that hot dogs can contain many unhealthy nitrates or chemicals, a common additive to help keep meat fresh and safe. While nitrates may sound scary, it is naturally occurring in many different vegetables. While your diet should not consist only of hot dogs, it is a great affordable protein to add to your diet.
How Many Calories are in a Hot Dog?
In a standard hot dog, there are around 150 calories in each but can differ slightly depending on the ingredients, size, and hot dog company.
Some jumbo-size hot dogs or ones stuffed with additives such as cheese or bacon can run up to 300 calories for each hot dog. There are also other low-fat alternatives such as plant-based dogs that can go as low as 100 calories.
How About Calories in a Hot Dog Bun?
Whether it is a white bread bun or a potato bun, on average your hot dog bun will add another 100-150 calories. Combined with limited toppings, a regular hot dog is still relatively low at a mere 270 calories. While we do not suggest consuming large quantities of hot dogs per day, hot dogs are not too shabby for your diet.
The next time someone wants to hot dog shame you, just be frank about the delicious iconic food’s nutrition facts.
The Bottom Line – Should You Eat Hot Dogs?
Even though hot dogs are the target of false rumors and hot dog haters, it is a famous American food that is not as bad as everyone thinks. While not on the top 10 healthiest foods to eat, it is a great affordable source of protein that will not break the bank.
It is also the perfect blank canvas for a wide array of toppings and condiments to unleash your inner Iron Chef. Whether you are a hardcore hot dog eater or the occasional ball game hot dogger, you should rest assured that hot dogs not only have a rich American history but are pretty good for you.
Yes, even if you are on a diet!