Regional toppings for hot dogs have always, always fascinated me. For instance, in New York street vendors serve up steaming hot dogs with a hearty mass of sauerkraut and spicy mustard. But, head to Coney Island and the dogs have a lovely, thick chili spooned on that's sprinkled with onions and dotted with mustard.
In other parts of the country, the hot dog toppings get even more creative. Head to Pink's Hot Dogs in L.A. and you can get dogs dressed at least a dozen different ways, including the Guadalajara Dog, which is topped with relish, onions, tomatoes and sour cream.
My new favorite dog? The Milford Dog from Goodie's of Milford. The dog starts out with a hot dog bun that's been sprinkled with bits of bacon. A hot dog -- the kind that snaps when you bite in -- comes next. Finally, it's topped with a few spoonfuls of coleslaw.
Okay, I know it sounds odd, but really it's fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.
Best of all, it can be recreated at home. Here's how to make The Milford Dog: Cook a slice of bacon (one per dog) and crumble it. Then, sprinkle the pieces into the bun. Grill the hot dogs and place onto the bacon-sprinkled rolls. Add some coleslaw and then devour.
But chili dogs are a long-standing favorite too. When we barbecued hot dogs on my birthday a few weeks ago, I insisted on heating and spooning warm chili onto my dog. I love the heat of chili on the dog -- it's a fabulous combination. Of course, the chili that day came from a can, but you can always make it as home too. Ideally you want it to be meaty and without beans, since that works best. A recipe like Chili con Carne would be great (skip the beans to make it perfect).
Want to make your chili dog even better? Try sprinkling a little cheese and/or some chopped onions on ... yum!
Don't get the wrong idea though; I don't always go for fancy toppings. Sometimes just having a little ketchup is all a dog needs. Making a fabulous, perfect ketchup from scratch is really easy too. Want to try it? Check out my recipe for Homemade Ketchup -- it's easy, simple and totally tasty.
Now, tell me: What do you like on your hot dog?
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah's Cucina Bella.