The Best Type Of Hot Dog To Buy For That Classic Snap

Hot dogs are considered an all-American food, but their origin story traces back to the Roman empire. According to History, it was Nero's cook Gaius who, when he realized he neglected to clean a pig before roasting, cut into the animal, saw its puffed intestines, and had an ah-ha moment. He stuffed the empty intestines with spiced ground meat and wheat, creating the first sausage.

Eventually, writes History, the sausage traveled across Europe to Germany, where two towns claim its origin story: Frankfurt and Vienna. German immigrants brought it to New York City, but it was Nathan Handwerker, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, that transformed this ethnic edible into an iconic American food when he opened Nathan's Famous on the Coney Island boardwalk.

A direct competitor to his former employer Feltman's, whose founder Charles is oft credited as the man who put the sausage into a split roll (via Culture Trip), Handwerker undercut Feltman's price by 5 cents, putting his rival out of business and turning the humble hot dog into a sensation across the country. The hot dog proved so popular that first lady Eleanor Roosevelt put them on the menu when England's visiting monarchs, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, picnicked with the Roosevelts in Hyde Park (via The American).

By the 1920s, Smithsonian Magazine notes, the hot dog was sold at a multitude of public events — from state fairs to baseball games — rendering the handheld an American food staple.

What hot dog has that classic snap?

Our love affair with the hot dog continues today. CBS News reports that 7 billion hot dogs are consumed between Memorial Day and Labor Day in the U.S. While there's no denying its ease of eating — nor the plethora of delicious toppings, from chili to bacon and eggs to jalapeño relish, it can handle — the one thing that stands out as the hot dog's quintessential trait is its snap. 

When The Washington Post did a taste test, it considered the snap — the firmness of the outer casing when bit into — an important criteria for a top dog. (And, according to the Post, there's such a thing as too much snap, which renders the hot dog tough to chew.) 

To ensure the dog has plenty of bite, snap lovers should turn to the ingredient panel on the hot dog's packaging. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council advises opting for ones with natural casings, which are made from either lamb or pig intestines. The New York Times explains that all hot dogs are pre-cooked in casings, but some (labeled skinless) are removed after cooking.

Casings can also be made of edible collagen, which, notes the Times, is made from collagen extracted from other animal parts. The outlet also points out that boiling hot dogs in their natural casings helps preserve the snap while grilling can make the snap too snappy.

Whatever your preference, enjoy your dog.