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Hot dog historian scoffs at Seattle-style dog, praises Chicago

Hot dog historian Bruce Kraig says his favorite dog is a Chicago-style hot dog. (AP Photo/file)

Move over scallops and steaks, it’s that time of year when the humble hot dog gets to shine.

This week on KIRO Radio’s Seattle Kitchen Show, the author of “Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America” explains why we shouldn’t ignore the franks.

Seattle Kitchen host Thierry Rautureau isn’t a huge fan of hot dogs, so it was author Bruce Kraig’s job to tell Thierry how best to eat one.

Being a chef, Kraig suggested Thierry might be more a fan of a sausage than the classic hot dog.

“If you’re eating a standard supermarket hot dog, then there’s nothing there. There’s no texture and no flavor. You can eat sausages, which are now served in upscale hot dog stands.”

He says a sausage or dog with a natural casing is best. A couple varieties he recommends are Vienna Beef Chicago-style dogs and Usinger’s sausage from Milwaukee.

Toppings vary greatly by region, he says, adding he’s not a huge fan of some styles served in the Seattle area.

“I know that in Seattle there’s a style invented in the 80s or 90s with cream cheese on it. That’s incomprehensible to me, maybe on a bagel with lox, but that’s about it.”

Kraig says Chicago style is what he’d recommend.

“That’s a high quality hot dog, like Vienna beef, which has mustard, bright green relish, sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, pickle spears, and a special pepper grown specially for the Chicago market, a pickled pepper called a sport pepper. So it has kind of bite to it. These could have celery salt on it or not.”

Kraig recommends using a soft bun, but says his very favorite bread for a hot dog is inspired by the French. It’s a baguette with a hole cut big enough for dog and condiments in the middle of the roll.

Seattle Kichen with Tom Douglas and Thierry Rautureau can be heard on KIRO Radio on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. Available anytime ON DEMAND at

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