My Laguna friends, Jim the dentist, Alan the CPA, and I are crazy about hot dogs. So are my neighbors, Toni the mayor, Bara the videographer, Todd the contractor, Audrey the realtor and Dan the webmeister.
Each of us has our favorite dog and location. We even have a rating system, which includes judging the pop in the dog (or as some say, snap), the bun, condiments served, a stand’s overall ambience and more. To hear us deliberating, you’d think we were tasting fine wine. More than once, someone has rejected a dog after the first bite.
I doubt anyone I know ever will enter the Coney Island Fourth of July hot-dog eating contest, but let’s face it: hot dogs are as American as apple pie.
Believe me, I know. After spending an afternoon tasting dogs (at no fewer than five places), Jim, Alan and I repaired to a hamburger joint for a piece of ... dare I say? ... banana crème pie.
Hot dogs, like politicians, come in all shapes and sizes. Some people like Hebrew Nationals while others crave Nathan’s or Boar’s Head. A few die-hards still like Ballpark or Oscar Meyer. The truth is, hot dogs are big business. According to the Recipe Source, 50 million hot dogs are eaten every day in the U.S. That equals a staggering 80 dogs per person, per year.
When I am not tasting hot dogs, I usually find myself mired in presidential politics. That said, I have begun to wonder lately where each of the Democratic candidates stands on the all-important issue of “the dog.”
I realize this isn’t something that will be debated anytime soon; however, I personally would like to know how each of them would dress his or her dog.
Not that this will be my political tipping point, but it certainly will help me separate the true believers from the pretenders.
Here, as a public service, I offer up the ideal hot dog and its presidential match up:
Joe Biden of Delaware: Given his reputation for long answers, I expect the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to have the most to say about his dog. With that thought in mind, I see Biden as a ketchup guy. On a whim, he might even throw in a few chopped onions on top.
Hillary Clinton of New York: This is a tough call because of her Chicago and New York roots. I’m guessing the former first lady served hot dogs more than once on the White House lawn. Look to Clinton to dress her dog hybrid-style. That would be slices of tomato coupled with mustard and a touch of sauerkraut.
Chris Dodd of Connecticut: Of all the presidential contenders, I am most confused about Dodd. Candidly, I think he leans toward the stadium standard, which is yellow mustard only.
John Edwards of North Carolina: Anyone who hails from the home of the 1987 smash hit, “Bull Durham” certainly must like hot dogs (and ribs). I predict Edwards sneaks in a mean chili dog when no one is looking. How else could he do it? He never is messy on the campaign trail.
Al Gore of Tennessee: I’m including Gore in the presidential candidate mix because he is rumored to be on a diet. I’ll bet he used to like his dogs piled high with ketchup, grilled onions and a dab of relish. Today, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tipper had him eating tofu dogs.
Barack Obama of Illinois: Is there any doubt here? Obama only eats the quintessential Chicago-style dog. This is a steamed (or boiled) all-beef dog on a poppy seed bun. It’s topped with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato wedge and a touch of celery salt. The reformed smoker never is temped to add ketchup.
Bill Richardson of New Mexico: This governor knows his hot dogs. True to his western roots, he primarily is a chili and onions man (with some urbane ‘kraut on top). Because you can eat a dog on the run, this has to be one of Richardson’s preferred food groups.
I realize there are other Democrats running for president or thinking about it like Wesley Clark, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. I would never question their reputation by implying they don’t like hot dogs; it’s just that I don’t know which one.
Either way it works out for them, or any of the presidential contenders, here’s one thing my friends Jim, Alan and I know for sure: If you want to be the next Commander-in-Chief, then you better eat hot dogs. It doesn’t get more patriotic than that.