Hot Dog Sales Soaring – Packaged Dogs, Anyway
Monday at 5:32 pm
While Labor Day grills cool down around the nation on this Labor Day, and the last wrinkled and overcooked dogs are sliced up and mixed in with the dog chow, there is a surprising statistic to chew on. Sales of packaged hot dogs are up 17 percent this year over last year, and the demand is expected to continue.
What has normally been a quick, unimpressive meal – a kind of throwaway for a midweek meal at home – has renewed popularity: and perhaps renewed respect.
When something is taken from us, we want it all the more.
So for everyone who has ever gone to a favored hot dog stand as a matter of routine and gotten their dog served up just right with all of the “Sacred Seven” ingredients, or chomped down on a 7-11 Big Bite without giving it much thought, let’s pause for a moment of reflection.
Some of our favorite hot dog places are closed. And while many have found a way to sell dogs curbside, others have succumbed to the times. And why is that? Because people don’t even look for stands as much, feeling in their hearts that hot dogs are supposed to be joyous and plentiful and tasty and personal, and have nothing to do with these grim times of wearing masks and dumping hand cleaner over ourselves every five minutes.
Baseball games have cardboard cutouts in the stands. No raucous yahoos spilling frothy beers and taking huge bites out of napkin-wrapped hot dogs in what can only be described as a true fan’s bliss. When you have the sun shining down on that emerald-green grass, and the lads are out there exhibiting practically impossible skills, while you are free to drink beers and cheer or boo to your heart’s content while eating a garlicky, smoky dog on a steamed bun, it’s hard to imagine much better.
I recall all too well this time of year in Chicago at Wrigley Field years ago, before the greed took hold. You could get as many tickets as you wanted on game day, and the stands would have mere scatterings of fans. The hot dog and beer guys were more than eager to stick around for your next order, like Vegas cocktail waitresses and their nasally pitch, “Dreeeeenks!”
But the at-home hot dog has taken on new popularity and strength. I have to admit to a little “sticker shock” when I last looked at a standard package of all-beef dogs. What is this – almost a buck per dog? But then you get them home, and put together your condiments and your poppy seed buns with care, using those little Martha Stewart mini-ramekins, keeping the celery salt nearby, and you place a few of those beef beauties on the grill grate at an angle that delivers 45-degree char marks, and you crack open a Budweiser or a Miller Genuine Draft, well, then, the increase in sales begins to make sense.
You turn off the news, and let your mind wander to days past, when you’d watch your nephew man the grill, swinging on a hammock, in those days when nobody brought up the president, ever, and the perfect, pre-autumn air would put an edge on your appetite, and you’d be ready to soak up all the family love that came your way.
Maybe that’s what we need most right now.
At least 17 percent more of us.
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