The hot dog is hurting this Fourth of July
The American cookout mainstay can't escape the effects of rising costs -- and changing tastes.
We don't mean rabbit sausage served with melted brie, and we don't a mean meat-free hot-dog-shaped vegetarian options. We mean the more standard definition of the term. If the answer is anything resembling "no," you're the reason the hot dog is dying.
Bloomberg Businessweek decided to throw a big bucket of ice water over everybody's Fourth of July fireworks by illustrating the sad state of the hot dog, which was once a staple on the grill. While Americans spent $1.7 billion on hot dogs last year at supermarkets alone and are expected to down 150 million of them this Fourth of July, marketing firm Symphony IRI found that hot dog sales dropped more than 3% in 2012 from 2011. That's after two consecutive years of smaller declines.
So what's putting the kibosh on the hot dog? "Higher raw-material costs" and "higher retail price points," according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council trade group. "The rising costs of goods, especially beef prices," said the folks at Hebrew National, whose all-beef hot dog sales are down 5% this year from last.
The bigger issue, however, is changing tastes. Hot dog hotspots such as Hot Doug's in Chicago and Bark in Brooklyn don't shy away from traditional dogs, but they aren't shy about making field-grain-and-potato veggie dogs basting in lard and butter or about stuffing casings full of wild boar, baked ham or duck. When your target audience has been raised on curries, chilis and sriracha sauce, a dog with yellow mustard, some kraut and some token onions seems just a bit bland by comparison.
That said, not every hot dog maker is suffering. Sales at Nathan's Famous (NATH) are up by 17% from last year despite Superstorm Sandy's toll on the chain's flagship Coney Island location. Nathan's annual Fourth of July hot-dog-eating contest is still on, however, even though company execs said there's more to selling dogs these days than just lining up competitors and letting them stuff their faces.
"In tough times, if people are going to eat fewer hot dogs, they often choose a premium product," Nathan's President Wayne Norbitz told Bloomberg. "They choose to indulge."
Hot dogs, or "tube steaks", used to be the affordable option to filling our family's tummies. They now cost almost $6 a pound, and I can eat a good chuck roast for $3.49 with half the sodium. We used to eat hot dog gravy (you can stretch 3 hot dogs out for a family of 5 that way!) and use the water from boiled hot dogs to make wiener water soup (no kidding...just add carrots, potatoes, a couple bay leaves, pepper, and roux). Now, chicken stock is the base for our soups at pennies on the dollar.
The day that companies think nostril meat and jowls pulverized into a gelatinous paste and stuffed inside a sheath is worth $6 a pound is the day I go vegan.
Maybe, just maybe, people are consuming less hot dogs because we now know that most of them are made of stuff that the average consumer would throw away? "From the heel to the squeal" is a term I heard in NC once.
I only buy kosher beef hot dogs.
Some company should makeover the hotdog bun. The old ones fall apart before one is done eating it.
nothing will keep me from my brats, my grill and my beer on the 4th of July
you can listen to mariachi music, eat tacos and beat on pinatas if you want, just leave me out of it
Hot dogs today are nothing like the hotdogs when we were kids.
This 4th of July will feature my famous Stuffed Cheese, Bacon Wrapped, Smoked , "Mike'y Dogs." They will be served on a whole wheat bun with chopped onions and my version of the Coney Island Lunch chili. (No Ketchup or Mustard need apply)
Our house is planning to make the Chicago dog hotdog for one of our meals over the long 4th of July weekend. There's probably millions of households that will do the same over the four-day weekend.
I rarely eat hot dogs, but get a taste for one or two every now and then.. However, the last time I had a good old Ball Park Frank it's casing was like shoe leather, it didn't taste the same, and it kept oozing this reddish liquid. I don't know what they've done to change them, but now I know why people no longer eat them. Disappointing to say the least!
The manufacturers of food and health nuts are ruining the sales of many foods. If the folks would go back to making products as they did in the fifties and sixties the items would go back to selling again.
I am referring to things as real butter,hotdogs and even cereral. Hotdogs and hamburgers and fries have in recent years been more or less ruined.
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