What Makes Seattle-Style Hot Dogs Unique?

No tailgate party or baseball game is complete without a classic hot dog to bite into. Such a simple snack certainly has a cult following in the United States, as 20 billion hot dogs are eaten every year by Americans, per the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. But what makes these so popular? For starters, hot dogs are easy to cook, and such preparation methods include boiling, grilling, roasting, and microwaving for those who are short on time, per Food52. Hot dogs also have that beloved "snap" when you bite into them, which is contrasted by its array of topping options, like relish, onions, ketchup, or mustard. These also vary depending on which region of the United States you're in.

In Chicago, for instance, hot dogs utilize a poppy seed bun, tomato slices, pickle spears, and peppers for some seriously crunchy textures. Kansas City, on the other hand, tops its hot dogs with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese and loves to use a sesame seed bun. And if you're in Alaska, expect to find "reindeer dogs" that are made with caribou, topped with grilled onions, and cooked with Coca-Cola (though this varies depending on the store or restaurant), per this NHDSC source. But if you happen to be in Seattle, skip their Starbucks coffee and seafood and make a beeline for Seattle-style hot dogs. Here's what makes them so unique.

Two words: cream cheese

Split n' grilled hot dogs, onions, jalapeños, and sriracha sauce are nothing new here, as these are all part of the Seattle-style hot dog diet, as well as other regional hot dog recipes, per NHDSC. But what's with the cream cheese? Dirty Dog explains that Hadley Long, the man who invented this tasty creation, loved bagels so much that he decided to pair a hot dog with a bialy, which looks similar to a bagel but doesn't have a hole in the center, instead containing a divot filled with onion or another ingredient, per Food Republic. News of this taboo pairing spread like wildfire, and customers flocked to Long's bagel stand to try the hot dog and cream cheese combo, which was eventually adapted into hot dogs.

The man himself has hinted at what makes Seattle-style hot dogs so special: "The toppings are not the big thing to me. It's the bun and the cream cheese," per The Seattle Times. And speaking of buns, Long utilized biyali-style buns, which pay tribute to bagels since the dough for both of these are the same. But if toppings are your thing, follow in the footsteps of Long and pair the cream cheese with just one topping. He enjoys raw onions, Dijon, or kimchi, but as long as you don't skip the cream cheese, you can top a Seattle-style hot dog with whatever you like.