Saturday, November 07, 2009

Book Review - Hot Dog - A Global History

I recently received an email from a publisher's rep who told me that was mentioned in a new book and asked if we would help promote it. He graciously honored my request for a review copy of the book. I found this beautiful November day a perfect day to sit outside and read and since the book is only 144 pages including appendices, it was easy to finish in one sitting. The book is well written and thoroughly researched. There is one sentence in the book about our beloved West Virginia hot dogs and is listed as an authority. The author, Bruce Kraig, does a very thorough job at telling his readers esoteric facts about hot dogs, including a very scholarly treatment of hot they came to be called "hot dogs". He also tells us stories that run the gamut from amusing to disgusting about how frankfurters are made and sold. The biggest problem I found with the book is this: He talks about wieners, frankfurters and sausages and calls them "hot dogs." Chapter 2 is entitled "How Hot Dogs Are Made" and he goes into great detail about the manufacturing of frankfurters. He doesn't seem to ever quite disconnect the sausage from the sandwich. You see, a hot dog is a sandwich. It is a sausage placed on bread. The sausage might be called a frankfurter, wiener, sausage or any number of other nicknames, but the meat alone is not a hot dog. Chapter 2 is completely about the meat. Chapter 3 (How Hot Dogs Are Sold) is even more confusing because it seamlessly switches back and forth between taking about how the meat is distributed, marketed and merchandised and then talking about the different kind of hot dog joints. He never makes the distinction between the meat and the sandwich. This is extremely frustrating for us here at because we have been trying for years to make people understand the single most important truth about a West Virginia Hot Dog - It is not about the weenie! While I think this might be truer for WVHDs than it is in other regions, I feel certain that the toppings are at least as important for every regional manifestation of the hot dog. I am sure that Kraig knows this, but he never mentions it in his book. But that gripe aside, this book is worth the $10.95 price just for the history lesson it provides. I've included the link so you can order it for yourself.

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