Some would say there’s nothing more American than cold beer and a cookout on the Fourth of July. The celebration presents itself as a chance for the BBQ hosts to show off their grilling skills and for everyone else to consume as many hot dogs as they can stomach.
Fourth of July weekend is when Americans consume the most hot dogs, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. It’s fitting, seeing that the origin of the hot dog mirrors the American experience of immigrating from overseas and creating a distinct culture in a newly settled home.
“As immigrants from there came over, they adopted [hot dogs] here,” said Eric Maittenthal, president of the NHDSC. “They really just became a part of the American diet that people really love and made their own in different regions of the country.” Depending on where you live in the United States, you might choose mustard, coleslaw, chili or peppers as your topping.
This weekend, to celebrate the birth of our country, we will eat an estimated 150 million hot dogs according to the NHDSC. If you line those hot dogs end to end, that chain of wieners will stretch from D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times.
Peak hot dog season lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs according to the NHDSC. To break that down, 818 hot dogs are being consumed every second during peak season.
So who eats the most hot dogs? It’s Los Angeles.
Despite the stereotype that Californians spread avocado on everything and have given up meat for kale, hot dogs remain popular in the City of Angels.
The study conducted by Nielsen only counted hot dogs made of actual meat, so the meatless variety consumed by vegans and vegetarians don’t count.
Naturally, much of the hot dog consumption happens in baseball stadiums. Los Angeles Dodger fans consumed 2.6 million hot dogs in 2016, but that’s just a fraction of the 36 million pounds of hot dogs that the city consumes as a whole.
New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Phoenix, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, D.C. and Tampa followed in the top ten hot dog consuming cities of 2016. Mittenthal noted that some of the rankings may be a bit skewed because the study depended on hot dog purchases from grocery stores rather than consumption from hot dog carts or restaurants.
“A city like Chicago, for example, ranks a little bit lower on the hot dog consumption list,” Mittenthal said. “Chicago has a lot of really great hot dog restaurants, so it could just be that people are going out to restaurants as opposed to buying them and making them at home.” Americans spent more than $2.4 billion buying hot dogs in U.S. supermarkets during 2016.
And now for the most important statistic of all: Who do we want to be with when eating a hot dog?
In a survey that asked respondents to vote on the top person, dead or alive, they would want to share a hot dog with, the winner was 95-year-old Betty White, according to Mittenthal. Sorry, George Washington. But here’s a bonus fact about the founding father: In 1778 he marked July 4th with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute.