Every regional hot dog, ranked by how weird it is
The hot dog may seem like one of the most humble foods out there. But the hot dog is so much more than that.
Looking for one topped with a red onion sauce? Yeah, you’re going to have to find that in New York City. Want it topped with pinto beans and stuffed in a bolillo roll? Arizona is your stop. Even the chili that tops the dogs is steadfastly a matter of town pride, with Cincinnati chili being a far different beast from the meat sauce you’ll find in Detroit.
With all these hot dogs out there, just which one is the strangest? Which hot dog combines ingredients in a way that you didn’t think possible? Then read on and you’ll get your answer. We’ll begin with your standard wiener and wind up with the weirdest.
We also have a graphic to help you remember the differences on all these dogs. Here's the key to guide you:
36. New York hot dog
Region: New York
Defining characteristics: Served with steamed onions and deli mustard. Can also be topped with a red onion sauce.
Comment: This is essentially the hot dog upon which all other hot dogs are based. Your enjoyment of said food basically depends on how much you like a salty, nitrate-loaded item that is the glorious hot dog.
this is Lady Gaga in New York falling over after buying a hot dog pic.twitter.com/baw8Xcup2p— rilari @ commissions are open (@itsmerilari) September 15, 2019
35. Dodger dog
Region: Los Angeles
Defining characteristics: A long, thin, skinless hot dog served on a bun with onions soaked in water.
Comment: The Dodger dog is one of the world’s most famous, but people are almost always surprised when they get it. It looks like one long finger.
Defining characteristics: A steamed (hence the name) hot dog topped with coleslaw, onions, mustard, relish and occasionally paprika or chili powder
Comment: It may shock you, but this is literally the only hot dog on this list to have spices listed as a topping.
33. White Hots
Region: Rochester, NY
Defining characteristics: A white hot dog made with pork, veal and beef that “pops” through the skin when it’s cooked
Comment: Don’t forget to get these in your garbage plate -- another Rochester specialty that features two hot dogs or burgers atop a plate of macaroni salad, meat sauce and hash browns.
Winter warmth in Western NY. @ZweiglesHots white hots in the white snow ❄️🌭😋❄️ #rocyourmouth #roc #rochotdog #explorerochester #rocfoodies #visitroc #iheartroc #supportlocal #sponsored pic.twitter.com/q6dQs2v1jR— This Is Rochester! (@rochester) January 21, 2019
32. Red Snapper
Defining characteristics: This is a bright red hot dog known for its snap from the natural casing. It’s served in a top split New England hot dog roll.
Comment: Just don't ask what's in the dye to make them so bright.
July is National Hot Dog month! Who's celebrating with a traditional Maine Red Snapper? (We are!)— Governor'sRestaurant (@govsrestaurant) July 23, 2019
What we really want to know - what's your favorite Hot Dot condiment? pic.twitter.com/RpE2SwVLe6
Defining characteristic: In a steamed bun, all-beef hot dogs are topped with a beanless beef sauce (made with beef hearts) and chopped onions.
Comment: This is the very best version of a chili dog. There’s also a Flint, Mich., version with a drier sauce.
30. Hot Wiener
Region: Rhode Island
Defining characteristics: Smaller-than-average hot dogs are topped with meat sauce, mustard, chopped onions and a dash of celery salt, and served in a steamed roll.
Comment: Just remember: Never ask for a "hot dog.” These are “hot wieners.” Trust me if you don’t want to be yelled at.
29. Southern Dog
Region: Southern U.S.
Defining characteristic: This one is topped with coleslaw and onions
Comment: Coleslaw is an underrated sandwich topping and it’s shocking there aren’t more dogs topped with it. It’s the perfect backyard BBQ side, so why not put it on top?!
28. Slaw Dog
Region: West Virginia
Defining characteristics: Like the Southern dog, this one is topped with coleslaw. The difference? You add a beanless beef chili and mustard.
Comment: Shocking how the addition of a little bit of chili can totally transform a dog.
27. Half smoke
Region: Washington, DC
Defining characteristics: A half-pork, half-beef sausage is topped with chili, mustard and onions.
Comment: This hot dog has a bit more spice than your standard hot dog, perhaps earning it the iconic name of “half smoke.”
26. Brat Tub
Defining characteristic: Bratwurst are cooked in a container of beer that is cooked over a grill. You then add sliced onions, hot sauce, ketchup and mustard to the pan and let the brats soak in the sauce.
Comment: When you have something called a brat tub, what else could it be?
25. Denver dog
Defining characteristics: A hot dog is topped with green chile, red onions, jalapenos and sour cream.
Comments: The sour cream seems weird, but more foods need to be topped with green chile.
24. Memphis dog
Defining characteristic: A grilled pork dog is wrapped in bacon, covered in BBQ sauce, chopped onions, scallions and cheddar cheese before getting popped in a grilled bun.
Comments: This is actually the very best style of hot dog you can make when making it in your own house and are emptying out the refrigerator.
Region: New Jersey
Defining characteristics: This dog is named for the skin that rips during frying. It can be topped with chili or mustard, but depending on where you order it, you may have to get them separately and add them yourself.
Comment: If you can forget about the name, you’ll appreciate how deep frying a hot dog makes everything better.
22. Italian Hot Dog
Region: New Jersey
Defining characteristics: Topped with fried onions, peppers and potatoes and then nestled inside pizza bread.
Comment: No hot dog needs this many carbs.
Italian hot dog, Joe-Joe's, Toms River. Ok, nothing more pic.twitter.com/hHzS3LVfUm— Pete Genovese (@petegenovese) April 27, 2014
21. Cheese Coney
Defining characteristic: Slightly smaller beef-pork hot dog that is covered in a beanless, Cincinnati-style chili that is made with cinnamon. This is then covered in a heaping mound of shredded cheese.
Comment: To everyone that makes fun of this meat sauce because it’s not a “chili,” you are pedantic, wrong and no one likes you. Cincinnati chili rules.
20. Reindeer dog
Defining characteristic: A caribou sausage is topped with onions that are sometimes cooked in cola.
Comment: So that’s what happened to Rudolph.
19. Danger Dog
Region: Los Angeles
Defining characteristic: A bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with mayo and pepper and onion.
Comment: This is usually found on carts set up outside games and bars late at night. And let me tell you, your life will change for the better once you have one. Your hangover will also thank you.
18. Pronto Pup
Defining characteristic: A state fair classic, this is basically a corn dog, but with a different ingredient base using corn, wheat and rice flour to give it a different flavor.
Comment: All corn dogs and corn dog-related foods are good.
Pronto pup ✅ pic.twitter.com/PJ8k1IErHY— Kylie Bearse (@KylieBearseWX) August 28, 2017
17. Whistle Dog
Defining characteristic: Hot dog that has been split and served with processed cheese, bacon and relish.
Comment: Honestly, I expected better from Canada.
16. Chicago Dog
Defining characteristic: A hot dog that is topped with yellow mustard, bright green relish, chopped raw onion, pickle spear, sport peppers, tomato slices and a dash of celery salt, all stuffed inside a poppy seed bun.
Comment: This is the most demanding hot dog in the world. And watch out if you dare to put ketchup on this. These people are hot dog rule-makers.
15. Texas Dog
Defining characteristic: A grilled hot dog is topped with salsa, shredded Monterey Jack cheese and, sometimes, chili.
Comment: Want to make Chicagoans mad? Just say salsa is the same thing as the toppings on their dog.
14. Bologna hot dog
Defining characteristic: A hot dog wrapped in fried bologna with mustard and pickle spear on a toasted bun.
Comment: What is bologna if not just sliced hot dogs? So this is kind of a hot dog on hot dog.
13. Mini Dogs
Region: Troy, N.Y.
Defining characteristic: These are tiny hot dogs topped with mustard, chili and meat sauce
Comment: Have you ever wanted to eat about a dozen hot dogs at a time? Now’s your chance.
12. Sonoran Dog
Defining characteristic: This one features a bacon-wrapped hot dog that is placed in a large bolillo roll. It’s then topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes and onions, mustard, mayo and jalapenos.
Comment: Beans and franks go so well together, so why don’t more hot dogs feature beans? And why don’t more burritos feature hot dogs? These are the questions that have plagued philosophers for generations.
11. Waffle Dog
Defining characteristic: Imagine a corn dog, but now it’s cooked inside waffle batter. Top in a maple syrup and mustard combination.
Comment: How this hasn’t swept the nation, I have no idea.
10. Texas Tommy
Region: Pottsdown, Pa.
Defining characteristic: A grilled and split hot dog is filled with Cheez Whiz. It’s finished by getting wrapped in bacon.
Comment: ...why is Texas in the name?
9. Crab mac ‘n cheese dog
Defining characteristic: It’s basically how it sounds: A hot dog is topped with crab meat, mac and cheese and, like everything in Maryland, Old Bay seasoning.
Comment: Crab meat on a hot dog sounds strange, and then you realize it’s all you’ve ever wanted.
8. Oki Dog
Region: Los Angeles
Defining characteristic: A hot dog covered in chili and a slice of fried pastrami, topped with mustard, all wrapped up inside a burrito tortilla.
Comment: A late-night specialty during L.A.’s ‘80s punk scene has become a classic L.A. hot dog. It’s also the quintessential L.A. hot dog, combining hot dogs, Jewish delis and Mexican food (kind of) in a way that only L.A. can.
7. Philly Combo
Defining characteristics: An all-beef hot dog is topped with sweet, vinegar-based coleslaw and spicy mustard. Oh yeah, and the most important part: a fish cake is nestled inside the bun, too.
Comment: Just, why?
6. Polish Boy
Defining characteristic: A grilled kielbasa on a hefty roll topped with coleslaw, BBQ sauce and hot sauce -- plus a generous serving of fries on top of all of that.
Comment: While in Cleveland, make sure you taste the city’s very own mustard (and my personal favorite for hot dogs), Stadium Mustard.
5. Puka Dog
Defining characteristic: This hot dog is stuffed through a hole in a sweet Hawaiian roll and topped in a garlic sauce and a choice of seven tropical fruit sauces like pineapple, mango, papaya or guava.
Comment: Sweet hot dogs basically don’t exist outside of Hawaii, and that’s a damn shame.
Defining characteristic: A breakfast sausage is stuffed inside a baked potato and is topped with classic baked potato toppings like chili, cheese and sour cream.
Comment: A classic of Montana state fairs, this pushes the boundaries of what a hot dog is. But a breakfast sausage is still a sausage and what is a baked potato except an unprocessed potato bun?
3. Cream Cheese Dog
Defining characteristics: Cream cheese and sauteed onions. You may also see it topped with jalapenos.
Comment: Before you gag on this, just know … it’s not terrible. Sure, you may never ask for one again (at least before midnight), but it’s not bad. You’ll mostly find these served on the street outside sports games in the city, or from a cart late at night. And that’s when you’ll probably find the flavor combination to be least offensive.
About to eat Seattle’s weird hot dog with cream cheese. pic.twitter.com/daJ3EuYqhx— Tom McLaughlin (@tmclaughbos) May 19, 2019
Defining characteristic: Stuff a hot dog full of cheese, wrap it in bacon and then deep fry it and toss it on a poppy seed roll. User’s choice if they want to “drag it through the garden” like the Chicago Dog.
Comment: This is every weird hot dog in the world combined into one. I’m not really sure how this is possible.
1. Scrambled dog
Defining characteristic: A hot dog is cut into pieces on a plate and is topped with chili, pickles, oyster crackers and coleslaw.
Comment: ... oyster crackers?!
So, now that you've seen all these truly wonderful and unique dogs, what's the most popular topping? Could you believe that onions are the king:
(Art by Jenny Goldstick / MLB.com)
With a little bit of work, I was also able to taste test seven of these different regional varieties. Which one did I love? Which one could I do without? Check it out in the video below:
Michael Clair writes for MLB.com. He spends a lot of time thinking about walk-up music and believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit.