A traditional American summer wouldn’t be complete without long hot days spent in the backyard, sipping icy lemonade while watching the kids play and enjoying fresh franks off the sizzling grill. Or those cotton candy sky evenings at the ballpark with the tantalizing smells of the concession stand singing to you like a siren.
No matter where you are, you’re beckoned to the grill during the summer months, and undoubtedly, hot dogs are on the menu. The bunned sausage is a food fit for any occasion—probably why Americans hold them so near and dear. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC), the average U.S. resident eats about 70 hot dogs per year. That’s about 20 billion hot dogs every year. 9% of the total hot dog sales in America are served in ballparks.
Tongs? Check. Hot dogs? Check. But, what are the best toppings for hot dogs? Lucky for us, hot dogs are ready to eat in a few minutes. But, those freshly grilled franks will be completely naked when they come off the grill. We’re a sucker for the classic mustard and ketchup combo, but how does the rest of the U.S. eat their hot dogs?
To fire up our sizzling study, we compiled a list of over 90 deliciously savory hot dog types from popular websites like Thrillist, Delish, Food Network, and, most importantly, hot-dog.org. Every hot dog connaisseur knows thorough cooking requires a quick sizzling sear. So, to get those tasty grill marks, we analyzed Google Trends search popularity from April 2021 to April 2022 to seal in the flavor.
The Most Popular Hot Dog Style in Every U.S. State
Whether someone’s taking you out to the ball game or watching the fireworks burst across the sky on the Fourth of July, summer is defined by the smoky, savory aroma of a good old-fashioned barbeque. Contrary to popular belief, Americans aren’t only grabbing for ketchup and mustard first. Instead, most have taken the unofficial ballpark staple to the next level.
The Midwest, the South, and West Coast love the buttery combination of two classics: hot dogs and grilled cheese. Why choose between the two when you can have a bun filled with melted cheese and a juicy charred frank.
While the delightfully gooey finding may not come as a surprise, Wisconsin’s most searched was; considering America’s Dairyland is known for being the cheesiest around. However, the home of the almighty cheese doubles is also the home of the beer brat. Instead of hot dogs, Wisconsinites line their toasty buns with a bigger, bolder flavor: the bratwurst. The spicy ground meat poached in beer is on everyone’s grill in the summer.
Cheese isn’t the only ingredient that makes the West Coasts’ mouths water. A hot dog on a stick coated in batter, then deep-fried to crispy golden perfection, and plant-based alternatives are the other wieners. Perhaps the most versatile food there is, hot dogs are a simple delectable treat, yet so much creativity can go into them.
If the Northeast isn’t taking a bite of a stretchy cheese dog, they’re eating the dirty-water dogs and rippers. The water isn’t actually “dirty.” The Big Apple’s staple street vendors’ flavorful, juicy dog is simmered in seasoned water, whereas the secret to a good ripper is ripping hot oil for deep frying.
The Most Popular Hot Dog Styles Overall
Order up for Alabama, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, and Tennessee! Cheese makes everything taste better. According to these cheese enthusiasts states, the all-time American favorite cheese dog has won the title of best hot dog. There’s nothing this indulgently delicious topping won’t taste good on. The drool-worthy creamy and mild texture warmly blanketed on top transforms your hot dog into a gourmet creation.
Alaska, Idaho, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Wyoming are frying up their hot dogs in cornbread-like batter, creating a perfectly tender inside with a satisfying crunch on the outside. Every crunchy and tender bite transports you under the twinkling lights of the country fair. While in Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico, and Virginia, nothing signifies summertime quite like a protein-packed vegetarian hot dog.
Hot diggity dog! New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and South Dakota are bursting at the seams for a ripper. Most hot dogs aren’t crispy, however, the pressure from the boiling oil opens the crinkly hot dog’s skin, hence the nickname. Clifton, New Jersey’s Rutt Hutt’s original owners created the signature well-done hot dog in 1928, which launched them into crunchy, deep-fried fame.
A little mess never hurt anybody! Delaware, Iowa, and West Virginia have their napkins ready for bunned-sausage goodness smothered with spicy, meaty stew, topped with sprinkles of cheddar cheese and onions. Meanwhile, Florida, Louisiana, and Utah keep the napkins handy for the completo. If you were to ask these states, they’d say the best hot dog is slapped with copious toppings, including diced onions, tomato salsa, sauerkraut, mayonnaise, and zesty mashed avocados. Served by street vendors or restaurants, the completo is the Chilean take on the American loaded frank.
Ready, set, eat! Be honest: eating hot dogs for dinner only gets better as you grow up. Americans eat billions of hot dogs each year, whether in restaurants, street fairs, backyard family celebrations, or on camping trips.