Wacky recipes and fun facts for National Hot Dog Day

There are plenty of great food-centric holidays to celebrate in July. There's Independence Day, National Ice Cream Day and this Wednesday, July 19, is National Hot Dog Day!

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that Americans will eat seven billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so it doesn't seem like we need an excuse to dig into yet another dog.

But here are seven more fun facts about those seven billion hot dogs — including the Council's position on the ongoing debate about whether a hot dog is a sandwich — as well as some tasty hot dog recipes to dress up those buns.

The Swanky Franky Hot Dog
Hot dogs wrapped in bacon
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1. The best way to cook a hot dog is...

Some like their hot dogs boiled, steamed, microwaved, pan-fried or even deep fried, but the majority of Americans (63 percent) prefer their hot dogs grilled, according to the Council.

2. The best topping for a hot dog is...

America's favorite hot dog condiment is mustard, followed by ketchup and chili. But why stop there when you can add so many other things, like salsa, bacon, pinto beans, onions, peppers and cheese?

Sonoran Hot Dog
Sonoran Hot Dogs
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
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3. About that ketchup...

It may be a popular condiment, but according to the Council's hot dog etiquette guide, you should stop putting it on your dog after your 18th birthday (some would say the age of eight is a more appropriate cutoff). Most Chicagoans would certainly agree ketchup doesn't belong on a real hot dog.

4. Hot dogs are made from...

You know where chocolate milk comes from, right? But do you know what's in your hot dog? A whopping 72 percent of Americans say that the ingredients of a hot dog are a "mystery" to them, according to the Council. That, they point out, is despite the fact that the ingredients are required to be listed on the label.

To help shed some light on those mystery dogs, the Council put together a handy guide to common hot dog ingredients, so you don't have to be in the dark next time you dine on a hot dog.

5. Beef, pork or turkey?

The majority of Americans who do know what's in their hot dogs prefer then to be made with beef, with 61 percent saying beef hot dogs are their favorite, according to the Council, followed by pork (12 percent) and then turkey (7 percent).

6. The best celebrity to share a hot dog with is...

Betty White's love of hot dogs has been reported frequently, and she's also the celeb with whom most people polled by the Council would like to share a hot dog. White, who turned 95 this year, beat out eight other celebs with some sort of hot dog connection in a multiple choice questionnaire that asked what famous person people would most like to share a hot dog with. Among her competitors were Tiger Woods (who once had a hot dog thrown at him during a putt) and hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut.

7. If a hot dog is served on a bun, is it sandwich?

And finally, on the deep, philosophical question of whether a hot dog is a sandwich, the Council says "no," a hot dog is not a sandwich. "And yes, I literally get asked that question every single day," adds Eric Mittenthal, president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, aka The Hot Dog Top Dog.

No-Bake Twinkie "Hot Dogs"
Elise Strachan's Waffle "Pizzas"
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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Prep time:
12 "hot dogs"
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But what if it's dessert in the shape of a hot dog with a Twinkie bun? Is it still a hot dog then? We warned you this was going to get deep.