The Topping Americans Originally Added To Their Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are quintessential summer fare in the U.S. Americans love hot dogs on the grill, at the ballpark, and from street vendors. Per the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, it is estimated that Americans consume 20 billion hot dogs each year. Whatever condiments you like to put on your hot dog is a personal decision, but there are some people who have strong feelings about the topic — particularly when it comes to ketchup.

Even President Barack Obama has weighed in on the topic. He told Anthony Bourdain that ketchup is only acceptable on a hot dog if you are under the age of 8 (via Food & Wine). The frank experts at the agree, they think ketchup overpowers the taste of the hot dog and should only be used by kids. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council lists acceptable toppings as mustard, onions, relish, chili, and cheese.

The case for chili

As far as toppings go, ketchup is a relative newcomer to the hot dog game. Before ketchup became associated with hot dogs, the original toppings were chili ground beef, mustard and onions (via This way of eating hot dogs was brought to the U.S. by Greek and Macedonian immigrants.

To many people, this is a "Coney dog." Although hot dogs served on buns are believed to have first been sold on New York's Coney Island in 1867, Smithsonian Magazine explains, Coney dogs originated elsewhere. Greek and Macedonian immigrants started serving their version of hot dogs in restaurants across the East and Midwest during the 1900s and 1910s. The ground beef chili topping is similar to "saltsa kima," a Greek spicy beef sauce made with tomatoes. 

So, maybe ketchup wasn't an original hot dog topping, but only you can decide if it's a topping on your hot dog this summer.