100 Words On: Why It's Not Poor Etiquette to Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog

There are plenty of food snobs out there who insist that it is sacrilegious to put ketchup on a hot dog. That assessment is echoed by The National Hot Dog Council which proclaims that ketchup should never be put on a hot dog by any one over the age of 18. I find it deliciously ironic when people insist that something as gastronomically unsophisticated as the common hot dog can somehow be defiled by topping it with the most popular condiment in America.

The bottom line: Who needs mustard? There’s nothing better than a hot dog topped with ketchup and onions.

Photo Credit: EvelynGiggles

56 comments to 100 Words On: Why It’s Not Poor Etiquette to Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog

  • Auntjenny7

    A hot dog with ketsup and cheese is just the best. Not the pour on cheese, but a slice of cheese. Yum, I think I’ve decided what I’m having for lunch today!

  • Olivia

    Point of info. In the New York Times Cookbook (Craig Claiborne), there’s a recipe for “Frankfurter Goulash a al Walter Selznik”. Not a dab of mustard in the entire thing. It tastes a lot like the cooked onions you get from the hot dog vendors near Central Park (New York). Now if a known foodie like Claiborne can OK a soupy mix of tomatoes, onions, and peppers over a lowly dog, who do these guys think they are, snubbing their noses at anything but mustard? Did the National Hot Dog Council fellows even have the guts to sign their names to the statement? I doubt it. They’re ashamed, (and should be), to show their faces in public.

    • Len Penzo

      I know, Olivia. My first question was: just who is this National Hot Dog Council and who made them the hot dog kings? LOL ;-)

      By the way, I’m gonna see if I can find that recipe. It sounds delicious!

  • PK

    First off, you meant to say “over 18″ instead of “under 18″.

    However, the Council is wrong. You can put whatever you want on a hot dog. It’s a BRAT that you can’t put ketchup on.


    • Len Penzo

      Good catch, PK! The edit has been made. And, just for the record, I never put ketchup on a brat — although I’m not sure why. :-)

  • That’s funny. I used to put cheese on my hot dogs but I stopped a few years ago when my girlfriend (now my wife) gave me funny looks. Every time I cook one, I think ‘mmm, maybe I’ll go for the cheese again’. I think I will try it again next time since it’s not that odd :)

    • Len Penzo

      Not odd at all, MB! Besides, being a beagle should make you an authority on hot dogs anyway. Don’t let anyone beat you down; put whatever the hell you want on that dog.

  • Heh. I don’t think ketchup should be put on hot dogs because I just don’t like ketchup. I refuse to put it on anything!

  • Colleen

    When I was a kid I loved what was called a whistle dog – a hot dog with a slit (not all the way through) filled with a cheese slice and then wrap the whole thing with a slice of bacon!! Now butter sauted onions, mustard and just a little tiny bit of ketchup is my perfect dog.

  • I never understood ketchup on hot dogs. For you ketchup lovers, enjoy it, just don’t ask me to eat it that way! I love it with yellow mustard and kraut. Very much the New York dog!

    • Len Penzo

      I can’t stand mustard, yellow or brown — to be frank (pun intended) it reminds me too much of when my kids were still in diapers. (Sorry, folks, but it’s true.)

  • We used to have a hot dog stand by our work. Now, I have to get my fix at Costco. I like all of the stuff on it.

    • Len Penzo

      I wish we had a hot dog stand by my work, Bret. Instead, when I want a dog at work I have to drive to a Wienershnitzel — which is one of my favorite fast food joints anyway. Love their chili dogs.

  • I am a vegetarian so I no hot dogs for me, but I didn’t know you are not supposed to put ketchup on hot dogs. I always see people @ Costco having a hot dog with everything available there… And I certainly didn’t know there is a “council” for hot dogs :)

    • Len Penzo

      Costco does have great dogs, Suba. I think they make tofu hot dogs for vegetarians.

      • They do, but I’ve never had a tasty one.

        I occasionally get the minimally processed chicken dogs for a treat (my kid can’t have nitrites in standard dogs) and we always do ketchup, mustard, and relish. My dad does chili-cheese dogs that are tasty but definitely not healthy. Didn’t know there was an edict against that!

  • DC

    I, for one, have always put both ketchup and mustard on a hot dog and I have no plans to change my habit. Haven’t done cheese, but I’ll give that a try next time.

    On the other hand, if you are dealing with a wurst — bratwurst, weisswurst, und so weiter — or kielbasa, then kraut and mustard is the way to go. But not yellow mustard; I go for a good brown mustard with the little seeds. Yummy!

    • Len Penzo

      When it comes to condiments, I only put ketchup on a hot dog — any other sausage goes “naked,” although I like to top my Italian sausage with grilled onions and/or bell peppers. Is it dinner time yet?

  • A little ketchup and spicy brown mustard for me, on my dog.

    • Len Penzo

      To each his own! I say if someone wants to put clam sauce on their dogs, more power to them! What are your thoughts on Dijon mustard on a hot dog? (I assume that’s different from spicy mustard, yes?)

      • DC

        Oh yes! Dijon mustard is good stuff. While not exactly spicy, it has a zing of its own. (The vinegar content?)

        Back in our college days my sister spent a summer “studies abroad” in Dijon France. The townspeople put mustard on *everything* including the pomme frites (french fries). It was the only condiment game in town. :)

        • Len Penzo

          Wow, I don’t think I’d be able to get by in Dijon, France. I was told the Europeans like to put mayo on their fries instead of ketchup; I guess they have a real disdain for the stuff.

  • Well, what a hick I am. I didn’t even know there was a controversy on this. I put ketchup *and* mustard on a doggie.

  • Here in the Chicago area, I’ve heard people say that you just don’t ask for ketchup on a hot dog. Not “Chicago Style”. Which probably means nothing to folks living elsewhere, but it’s a part of the tradition around here.

    A hot dog with mustard, onions, relish, celery salt. That’s the local style…no ketchup! Maybe cheese can be added though. I was at a place very recently where they didn’t even offer ketchup as an option.

    Personally, I think adding ketchup to that mix would be pretty good…

  • I put ketchup, mustard and relish on my dogs and think it’s absolutely ridiculous for a council to determine there’s only one way to eat this versatile item.

  • jr

    too much sodium and junk in all of it. i don’t do it. funny, money beagle says he quit “cheese” when “his girlfriend gave him funny looks. Grow a Pair dude, your wife will eventually look for a man who has.

  • CandiO

    My regular dogs at home get ketchup, mustard, chilli, CHEESE and relish. But maybe I am just weird!

    • Len Penzo

      That must be some good cheese, to spell it with all capital letters, CandiO! ;-)

      What kind of CHEESE are you talkin’ about?

  • David Swanger

    I’m 57 and this is the first time I’ve heard that ketchup shouldn’t be used with hot dogs. Crazy.

  • Catsup on a hot dog is not an etiquette error but it is a serious error in taste. Mustard, relish and onions is the only way to eat a hot dog.

    I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and now I want a hot dog. Still 2 hours until Costco opens.

    • SassyMamaw

      I had to join you on this one. Mustard, relish and onion. I don’t dislike ketchup, just never put it on a hot dog. I eat it with the fries!

  • Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t have a set hot dog topping. Depends on the mood, and what’s available. Chili cheese dogs. Mustard, ketchup and onions. Relish. It all works for me. The only way I don’t like my dogs is “beanie-weenie” style. Yuck!

  • travis

    Personally, I’ve never liked ketchup on a hot dog. One of my favorite movie quotes:

    “DIRTY HARRY” CALLAHAN: You know what makes me really sick to my stomach?

    DETECTIVE: What?!

    CALLAHAN: It’s watching you stuff your face with those hot dogs. Nobody… I mean NOBODY puts ketchup on a hot dog

  • Didn’t Clint Eastwood comment on this in one of the dirty harry movies? I like ketchup on hot dog. What I do is make sauce mixing ketchup, mustard and teriyaki. It gets the sweetness from teriyaki and a little sour from mustard and ketchup.

  • Brown mustard, sauerkraut, and the red onions that you can only get from the NYC Sabrett hot dog carts. This, in my opinion, is the perfect dog.

    Fortunately, we live in the US, the land of choice. You are free to do some pretty awful things, and ketchup on the hot dog is one of them. In the not-so-free countries, you’d be handcuffed and taken away for this offense.

  • KIM

    Nah, that’s just wrong. What else but hot dogs, hamburgers, and French fries…is ketchup for. The real debate is the brand. Heinz. Can’t beat it…ever. Could care less about the food snobs cuz they don’t know what they’re missin’. Then again, I’ve refrained from use when I’ve encountered establishments offering Hunts or other off brands or specialty made concoctions. I’m a Heinz snob…In MN we have “hot dishes” for just this post. A hot dog without Heinz is like peanut butter without jelly. Asparagus without beurre blanc. Ice cream without a waffle cone. Duh. Leave it to the food sites. Ketchup is king…as long as it’s Heinz.

  • Processed tomatoes for processed meat. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. First world problems….

  • Char

    I take a lot of flak for putting mayo on hot dogs, but in general, I don’t care for mustard. Typical around here is mustard, chili, onion, slaw – with or without ketchup. The worst thing I have ever seen someone put ketchup on is turnip greens, but then, to each his own. Anyone who says you “can’t” put ketchup on something is a little too pretentious for me!

  • Mustard and/or mayonaise for me please! Food snobs and cholesterol beware!

  • Marie Ferro

    I work at a fast food rest. that sells LOTS of hot dogs. The most common thing people ask for are mustard and onions. But I have had people ask for mayo! Kethup is popular as well as onions and relish. Everyone has different likes.

  • [...] Len  over at Len Penzo.com  tackles the most serious and incredibly important  issue of our day. The one issue that will affect millions upon millions of poor, innocent souls this holiday weekend, forcing them to each make a personal choice that could potentially affect the course of not only their entire lives, but history itself. That choice is (dramatic pause…………………. wait for it……..), ketchup or no ketchup on your hotdog???? [...]

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  • [...] the first couple years, however, at the end of the day, most people still like to see red ketchup on their hot dogs, so the fad eventually died out. The last bottles of off-color ketchup were pulled from the shelves [...]

  • [...] Len Penzo offers a quirky article not quite related to finance. This week is was 100 Words On: Why It’s Not Poor Etiquette to Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog. As I commented to Len,”Fortunately, we live in the US, the land of choice. You are free to [...]

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