Call it a wiener, weenie, frankfurter, frank, dog or coney, the hot dog is by far one of America's favorite foods.
And today is its day.
Since 2009, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council in the USA has designated July 23 as National Hog Dog Day. While the tradition of hot dog day isn't that old, the dog itself spans more than a century, making it one of the country's most recognizable meals.
The hot dog began as a frankfurter — a sausage made with pork meat in Frankfurt, Germany — but didn't have a bun. That changed when a sausage vendor at Coney Island in New York got the idea to sell the sausages on rolls to keep his customers from stealing the white gloves used to eat the hot franks comfortably.
It caught on, and since the late 19th century, the "coney dog" has been thrilling Americans with its unique flavor and character.
The hot dog is something that is near and dear to Buddy and Patrick Simon, owners of Diamond Dawgs in Ardmore.
"When we'd go to ballgames in Oklahoma City, people would want Italian or barbecue," Buddy says. "We'd want to go to the Coney place and get some coneys."
The Simons root their love of the coney around their love of baseball, therefore the Diamond Dawgs franchise utilizes the sport's theme. And what better to go with baseball than the hot dog.
"I'm not sure what it is about this food," Buddy said. "You couldn't eat pizza every day, you couldn't eat tacos every day ... but I could eat our coneys literally every day. I can't burn myself out on it.
"It's just that all-American kind of food that everyone loves."
Diamond Dawgs specializes in coneys the Simons call the single, double and triple that vary with the number of toppings. However, they too are in the specialty dog business.
"We have special weenies influenced from all of the different styles," Patrick says. "We have one called the Chicago Cubbie that has the ingredients of the Chicago Dog, only we substitute regular relish for the neon stuff in Chicago, and jalapenos for the sport peppers. We want to put our Oklahoma spin on the favorites."
And that they do, even ordering their weenies and franks from an Oklahoma company.
"That's what we want to do more than anything, keep that traditional hot dog appearance, but make it unique with that Oklahoma touch," Buddy says.
And despite their best efforts, both still enjoy coneys on an almost daily basis, even after two years of owning the restaurant.
"If I had my druthers, I'd sit down and eat our triples. That's what I grew up eating at the ballpark. [Buddy] is always taking me to the Coney Island in Oklahoma City, that's just our tastes."
Buddy said hot dogs are something of a staple for America, but at the same time, a bit of an anomaly in this part of the country. In New England, hot dog vendors can be found on street corners all the time, but it takes a ballgame or a specialty restaurant to make them available for anyone here.
"It's a lot of fun. It's a fun food, it can be a healthy food," Buddy says. "It's just that American food that I think people love to eat."
But one thing remains a constant debate for many sausage connoisseurs: What do we officially call this American staple?
"I don't know what the proper word for it is ... frankfurter, weenie, hot dog," Buddy admits. "To me, they're weenies, but we're Diamond Dawgs, so we'll call them hot dogs."
Diamond Dawgs, as well as Sonic, is offering $1 hot dogs today as part of National Hot Dog Day. Sonic is serving up its all-American dogs and chili cheese coneys, and Diamond Dawgs will offer the single, double and triple for the honorary price.
History — and myth — behind the hot dog
Many claim to have invented the "real" hot dog, often citing the same reasoning as the Coney Island vendor: People stealing the white gloves.
Then, there is the legend as to how the "hot dog" got its name. Concessionaire Harry M. Stevens sold what he called "Dachshund Sandwiches" at the New York Polo Grounds. A New York Post cartoonist wanted to use the item in a cartoon, but couldn't spell dachshund, and created the phrase "hot dog."
There are no known existing copies of the cartoon, but such is the myth.
However, the earliest known usage of a hot dog in clear reference to sausage appeared in a Dec. 31, 1892 issue of the Paterson (N.J.) Daily Press about a local frankfurter vendor named "Hot Dog Morris." But by that time, the name was already in common use.
There was also speculation that early hot dogs actually contained dog meat, which in the early 20th century, consumption of dog meat in Germany wasn't that uncommon.
Thankfully, that act is no longer practiced, and all hot dogs are 100 percent canine-free.
After the invention of the American hot dog, not much has changed, other than the specifics of the meats in the sausage, the bun on which it's served and the toppings. All of these factors vary depending on what part of the country you're in.
For Coney Island folks, it's a steamed wiener in a steamed bun, a dab of mustard, beef chili (no beans), cheese and onions, hence the name "coney dog." The Chicago Dog has mustard, tomatoes, onions, sport peppers, neon relish, dill pickles and celery salt. One cardinal sin though for Chicago natives, don't ask for ketchup.
Different ballparks also have their variance on the dog. Fenway Park in Boston has the Fenway Frank; Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles has the Dodger Dogs.
From there, the list of condiments gets almost insurmountable. Onions, sauerkraut, ketchup, pickles, cheese and certain spices are only a small portion of what can be put on a hot dog.
Depending on the part of the country you're in depends on the type of dog you'll get.
The popular tubular meat is also something that sparks memories — mostly positive — for many people. Things like a trip to the ballpark or watching a relative play a Little League game are often accompanied by a wiener or two. And on National Hot Dog Day — especially when the hand-held delicacies are available at a special price — there's no reason not to bite a dog.