On Fourth of July, Americans will chow down on enough hot dogs to stretch from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles more than five times – 150 million to be (approximately) exact.
Statistically, people consume the most hot dogs on America’s birthday, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Extended through the peak hot dog season from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the council shows Americans typically consume seven billion hot dogs. That amount equates to 818 hot dogs per second through the peak season.
A study by The Nielsen Company shows hot dog producers estimate an average of 38 percent of its total hot dogs are sold during the three-month peak hot dog season.
In Kilgore, there are multiple places where people turn to get their frank fix, and each one is an all-beef frank.
Whether it is dressed to the nines with different toppings, “plain Jane” or somewhere in between, restaurants in Kilgore can provide.
At Downtown D’Lites the hot dogs are all natural as well as all beef, so they do not contain any of the phosphates or other ingredients some variations might, owner Debbie Van Doren said.
“They’re rather large, much larger than the grocery store version,” she said. “And they’re very tasty as well.”
Hot dogs are especially popular during the summer months and Fourth of July, she said, because they are typically cheap and an easy picnic food to make and transport.
“You can steam them, you can boil them, you can fry them, you can grill them… You can slice them up and put them in beans. They’re just probably very versatile,” she said.
The menu at The Back Porch also allows customers to get creative with their hot dogs, offering the more traditional chili cheese dog and a Jackie Dog, which adds a second frankfurter to the mix.
“I think Jackie put a lot of his heart into what he wanted his hot dogs to look like, and, I mean, he named them after himself, so ours are definitely a little unique because our owner is much more involved with them,” Kaycie Green, kitchen manager at The Back Porch, said.
She said the Jackie Dog is the more popular of the two, though, calling it the all-time favorite at the restaurant.
Green credits the connection between Independence Day and barbecuing with the hot dog’s popularity during the summer celebration.
Jonathan Frith, assistant manager at the Kilgore Burger King, said his six-year-old daughter will not eat hamburgers but will enjoy a hot dog.
“I cannot for the life of me get her to eat a hamburger, but she will eat hot dogs… Maybe it’s because the kids. You always have them around because of the kids,” he said, remembering a time he would eat a hot dog the same way Bugs Bunny ate his carrots.
Frith said the versatility might lend itself to the popularity because it does not require someone to “babysit the grill,” adding it can even be cooked with a coat hanger and fire.
Chicago and New York are both represented in hot dog form at Sonic, along with multiple other variations, including ones with a pretzel bun.
Mario Jacquez, general manager of Kilgore Sonic, said the store sees an increase in hot dog sales around Fourth of July and when new, limited-time-offer versions are introduced.
The chili cheese dog is the most popular overall, though, he said.
“Hot dog’s like an American staple,” Karen Marcantel, of Charburger, said. “The majority of the places you go to, they have one on the menu. What more than Fourth of July can you get than a hot dog.”
With fresh bread, Charburger’s hot dogs – both regular and foot long variations – can be made with as a chili-cheese dog or just plain, she said, noting she enjoys hers “plain and dry.”
With July being National Hot Dog Month, the hot dogs at both Burger King and Sonic will be on sale during event days in July for 79 cents and one dollar, respectively.
Downtown D’Lites also has a hot dog cart to use during festivals and events around town, Van Doren said. It will not be available during the city’s Independence Day celebration in City Park Tuesday, though, due to a lack of available power.
The Kilgore Lions Club, though, will have sausage – sort of frank-shaped – on a stick available in the park.