What is a Chili Dog?

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  • Written By: A Kaminsky
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Sausage vendors in the late 1800s hawked their spicy wares on the streets of New York and Chicago. But who really invented the first hot dog as we know it is lost to antiquity, in spite of conflicting claims. It might have been at a Giants baseball game at the New York Polo Grounds, or in St. Louis, Mo. However, this German sausage in a bun caught on quickly and its popularity remains unchallenged.

The origins of the chili dog are equally murky. A logical choice for the birth of the chili dog would be Texas, chili capital of the world, but this is not substantiated. What is known about the chili dog is that the basic blueprint is a wiener in a bun topped with some kind of chili.

The chili dog is one of those foods that sparks controversy everywhere. Should the chili have beans? No beans? Should it be a straight chili sauce, or the same thing one would eat from a bowl? Should a chili dog have only chili on it, or should it also feature ketchup, mustard, onions, kraut and even cheese? The possibilities are as endless as those who favor this spicy treat.


Chili sauce is available canned, or recipes are available online. Chili sauce is a much thinner chili, with small tidbits of ground beef, flavored largely with salt, pepper, chili powder and paprika. A canned chili for eating from a bowl usually has larger chunks of meat and may be flavored with tomato and other spices.

Fast food restaurants, such as Krystal and Sonic, both feature a chili dog on their menus, as indeed, do most drive-in burger places. The chili, wieners and toppings are individual to each establishment. This writer prefers a “garbage” dog with chili, kraut, onions, mustard ketchup and a little dill relish if the bun will accommodate it. Chili-only dogs are tasty, too.

When nothing but a savory, hot, spicy hot dog will do, adding some chili makes it just a little better.


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Post 3

Moldova- You guys are making me hungry. I just want to add that I usually buy the Sabrett hot dogs at BJ’s. That is the same brand that is sold at the hotdog carts in New York. So you can also enjoy a New York hot dog at the comfort of your own home.

Post 2

Sunshine31- I totally agree with you. Those happen to be the best hot dogs ever. There is also a place called Matt’s Gourmet Hot Dogs in Brooklyn that offers just about everything you can think of on hot dog.

They have one hot dog called the Slaw Dog and it has onions, chili and coleslaw. They also have the Kraut dog that is served with sauerkraut and mustard that tastes amazing.

Post 1

I just want to say that I love Sonic and often get their chili dog there. But sometimes I am just in the mood for a hot dog.

I have to say the best hot dogs are in New York. Whether you go to a hot dog stand in the city or to a restaurant like Shake Shack, the taste is out of this world.

I almost always get hot dogs when at a Yankee game. That foot long hot dog is fabulous. I feel that eating hot dogs at a baseball game is sort of like eating popcorn at the movies. You just do it.

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