How to Celebrate National Hot Dog Month {Summer Outdoor Entertaining Tips}

National Hot Dog Month

According to The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Americans purchase nine billion hot dogs every year, and hot dogs are served in 95% of American homes. The Council estimates that hot dog consumption is even higher than this when you factor in those consumed at baseball games or restaurants. Their estimate comes in at 20 billion hot dogs consumed every year, which is about 70 hot dogs per person.

Hot dogs are standard fare for summer cookouts, and Americans love them so much, that we have even set aside a month to celebrate them. July is National Hot Dog Month, which is a fitting choice, since it is right in the middle of the summer outdoor entertaining season. While there are two National Hot Dog Days during July when a few towns have festivals and some restaurants offer hot dogs at a discount, most folks are on their own when it comes to determining how best to celebrate this summer tradition.

Of course, hot dogs are meant to be casual and are a flexible option that work for just about any occasion or situation. This is one reason so many of us enjoy them regularly, and it also means that they lend themselves well to almost any type of celebration you plan for this special month.

Summer Outdoor Entertaining: Tips for Celebrating National Hot Dog Month

The most common way to celebrate National Hot Dog Month is to host a backyard cookout with hot dogs as the star of the menu. While grilling hot dogs in your outdoor kitchen may be something you do often and may not seem very celebratory, you can transform your everyday grilling experience into a special occasion with decor, unique condiments, games or special activities.

Here are eight ways you can turn an everyday cookout into a memorable event:

1. Host a hot dog eating contest.
2. Decorate your patio like an old-time county fair.
3. Set up carnival games with prizes for children and adults.
4. Give your party a country flair with checkered tablecloths and napkins.
5. Make it an outdoor movie night with hot dogs, popcorn, boxed candies and other common theater fare.
6. Host an outdoor slumber party with backyard camping, games and hot dog-themed coloring pages.
7. Have your guests roast their hot dogs over your fire pit.
8. Serve hot dogs for brunch with a fried egg on top and hash browns on the side.

How to Celebrate National Hot Dog Month

Summer Outdoor Entertaining: Basic Hot Dog Etiquette

The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council’s website includes a guide to hot dog etiquette that honors the hot dog for its unpretentious glory. It is a must read for serious hot dog connoisseurs, but here are a few of the basics for folks new to hosting hot dog parties:

  • Paper plates are the preferred method of hot dog delivery. While your everyday dishes are acceptable in a pinch, anything nicer is unacceptable.
  • Beer, soda, iced tea and lemonade are acceptable drinks to be served with hot dogs. Wine is not.
  • It is unacceptable to eat hot dogs with a fork and knife; they must be eaten with hands.
  • Ketchup can be served with hot dogs, but hot dogs with ketchup should only be eaten by children under the age of 18.
  • Toppings should be placed on top of the hot dog and never between the hot dog and the bun.
  • The practice of licking the fingers to remove leftover condiments is preferred to washing your hands.

We think it is good to also add the practice of making sure you have kosher hot dogs and vegan hot dogs available for guests with dietary restrictions.

Summer Outdoor Entertaining: Must-Have Hot Dog Condiments

If you are planning on having a hot dog party or cookout as part of your National Hot Dog Month celebrations, your guests are sure to expect certain condiments to be on the table.

A survey conducted by The Harris Poll for The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council found that mustard is the top choice when it comes to hot dog toppings. Although The Council’s guide to hot dog etiquette points out that ketchup is only acceptable for kids under the age of 18, the survey found that Americans are largely ignoring this assertion, since ketchup ranked as the second favorite topping.

Other common condiments you will want to have on hand include chili, onions, mayonnaise, relish, sauerkraut and tomatoes.

Favorite Hot Dog Toppings Infographic

Summer Outdoor Entertaining: Fun and Unique Hot Dog Condiments

While the old standards should definitely be on the table, including some unique options is fun for the adults and a great way to expand your children’s palates. You can even pick particular themes for your National Hot Dog Month celebrations, such as including regional dogs on the menu.

Here are 11 condiments that are common in particular regions, but uncommon in the general world of hot dog consumption:

1. Jalapenos
2. Pickle spears
3. Coleslaw
4. Swiss cheese
5. Salsa
6. Barbecue sauce
7. Dijon mustard
8. Cheddar cheese
9. Bacon
10. Hot sauce
11. Peppers

Hot Dogs on Grill

If you want to take your hot dog experimentation to the next level, here are 13 unique condiments to consider:

1. Cream cheese
2. Onion straws
3. Steak sauce
4. French fries
5. Tzatziki sauce
6. Thousand island dressing
7. Guacamole
8. Celery salt
9. Pesto
10. Poutine
11. Cucumbers
12. Marinara sauce
13. Green Onions

Of course, you can also come up with your own recipes that may become family favorites or your signature hot dog to serve at summer soirees. Consider making pizza dogs, wrapping hot dogs in bacon, or smothering them with potato chips and Sriracha.

Your Turn…

What is your favorite hot dog recipe for summer outdoor entertaining?


Photo Credits (in order of appearance): Wikimedia Commons/Infrogmation; morgueFile, DodgertonSkillhause; The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council website; morgueFile, cesstrelle