What do baseball parks and campfires have in common? They’re both places you’re likely to run into one of America’s favorite foods: the hot dog!

If you’ve ever been to a major league baseball game, then you might have had the chance to sample one of the concession stand delicacies known as a frankfurter. If you’ve ever cooked dinner over a campfire, then you might have roasted a hot dog on a stick.

Of course, hot dogs are eaten at many other times and in many other places all over the country. Do you ever have hot dogs at school for lunch? What about at home for dinner? An ages-old favorite for many kids is hot dogs and macaroni and cheese!

Experts estimate that Americans eat over 20 billion hot dogs every year. Wow! That’s about 60 hot dogs for every American each year. Do you eat that many hot dogs?

Hot dogs have been around for a long time. Originally called frankfurters, their origin can be traced back to 1852 in Frankfurt, Germany. From the start, hot dogs were basically small sausages.

Today, some hot dogs are made entirely of one type of meat, such as beef, pork, chicken, or turkey. There are even vegetarian hot dogs that contain no meat at all. Many hot dogs, however, are more like traditional sausages, because they are made from a secret recipe containing a mixture of a variety of ingredients.

Although there are as many special hot dog recipes out there as there are people and companies who make hot dogs (thousands of them!), most hot dogs consist of a similar set of ingredients. These include meat, meat fat, filler (such as flour or bread crumbs), egg whites, and spices. Some popular hot dog spices include salt, pepper, onion, and garlic.

Mass-produced hot dogs to be sold in stores will also often contain preservatives, artificial colorings, and sodium nitrate. Hot dog makers blend all these ingredients together in large food processors or meat grinders. They then use the processed mixture to fill sausage casings often made of synthetic collagen or cellulose.

Before being packaged, hot dogs are pre-cooked, usually by boiling them for about 15 minutes. After they’re pre-cooked, the hot dogs can be packaged and refrigerated or frozen.

Once sold, the hot dogs must be cooked again by boiling, microwaving, steaming, frying, grilling, roasting, or just about any way you can imagine cooking meat! Serve them up on a bun, and you’re ready for a delicious and filling meal!

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