(NEXSTAR) – Americans are expected to eat roughly 150 million hot dogs on July 4th — and many of those Americans will be doing it wrong, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC), a trade association established by the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) in 1994, has long celebrated all varieties of hot dogs and condiments. But there’s one topping the NHDSC just can’t tolerate, and the council is making its feelings known ahead of Independence Day.
“No matter how you top it, any hot dog is delicious,” said NHDSC President Eric Mittenthal in a 2021 press release. “Well, except for [hot dogs] with ketchup. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council etiquette guide says only children should eat their hot dogs with ketchup.”
Mittenthal’s remarks concerning ketchup appear to reflect a long-held belief among members of the NHDSC, too. In a 2008 video produced by the organization, a spokesperson claimed that using ketchup on hot dogs is a violation of the “cardinal rule” of sausage etiquette.
“Never, ever put ketchup on a hot dog after the age of 18,” a spokesperson for the NHDSC says in the video. “We all have to grow up sometime.” (Most Americans haven’t, however; a poll of 1,000 people conducted by the NHDSC in 2021 found that 61% enjoy their hot dogs with ketchup from time to time.)
Acceptable toppings, on the other hand, include “mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili,” according to the council’s online Etiquette Guide. The NHDSC has previously also voiced its support for other types of toppings, including those found on Chicago-style dogs (sport peppers, tomato, celery salt, pickle spear, etc.).
As noted in the Etiquette Guide, there’s also a correct order to applying condiments, starting with “wet” toppings like mustard or chili, and followed by “chunky” condiments such as onion or sauerkraut, and finishing with shredded cheese and spices. Toppings should always be put on the dog itself, and not “between the hot dog and the bun,” according to the NHDSC.
Thankfully, while there is a wrong way to eat a hot dog, there is no wrong time to do so, according to the NHDSC. In a recent poll commissioned by the NHDSC and NAMI, 9 out of 10 Americans said could eat hot dogs — even ones without “acceptable” toppings — any time of year.