Summer is prime hot dog season in the U.S., when warm temps invite grilling, beer drinking, and lazy hand-held-sandwich eating. This Friday, wiener consumption will hit its yearly peak: Every July 4, Americans put away an estimated 150 million hot dogs, a nice chunk of which will probably be consumed at Coney Island, Brooklyn, during the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest championship. It’s fitting, perhaps—the neighborhood represents the birthplace of hot dogs in the U.S. (via the Germans, of course)—but the Nathan’s dog is just one of many around the country with which people will be stuffing their faces this summer. Hot dogs are as regional as they come, and it’s downright enlightening to get to know the various location-specific styles. In tribute to these meat sticks so beloved by our country, I contributed a roundup to Men’s Journal of 20 Must-Try Hot Dogs in America, spanning Maine to Detroit, New Jersey to Los Angeles. Read the complete article at MJ.com, and feast your eyes on pics of some favorites below.
In Rhode Island, a New York system, a.k.a. a hot wiener, is a natural-casing frankfurter in a steamed bun topped with mustard, chopped onion, celery salt, and a “secret” (ground beef) meat sauce. The preferred drink to go with it? Coffee milk.
Read more about Rhode Island hot dogs.
On the streets of Denver, the dog of choice is made from game meat like Colorado-sourced elk or buffalo and toppings include a shot of cream cheese from a caulking gun.
Read more about Denver’s game dogs.
Western New York’s charbroiled hot dogs are extra crispy thanks to the charcoal grill used to cook them. “The works” might include mustard, diced onion, sweet relish, ketchup, hot sauce, and a pickle.
Read more about charbroiled hot dogs in Buffalo.
A chili half-smoke—more sausage than hot dog—is a must in Washington, D.C. Pile of fries optional.