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California Bill Says What Makes A Hot Dog … A Hot Dog

By Scott Detrow

These dogs appear to meet the state standard. (Bettnet/Flickr)

These dogs appear to meet the bill’s standard. (Bettnet/Flickr)

July 4 is a pretty big day for patriotism, parades and, yes, hot dogs. All across the country, people are grilling them, boiling them — even scarfing them down in competitive eating contests.

But what, exactly, makes a hot dog a hot dog? California legislators are seeking to define it. To see how that idea is playing in the field, I headed over to Dave’s Dogs, a cart that’s a couple blocks from the state Capitol in Sacramento.

Vendor Amy Frey typically sells 30 to 50 dogs a day. “I have sweet relish, red caramelized onions, raw onions, sauerkraut and jalapeno peppers,” Frey said. “Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise. Lots of mustard choices.”

“… frankfurter, frank, furter, wiener, red hot, Vienna, bologna, garlic bologna, or knockwurst …” — AB 1252
“But what’s below all those toppings? The Legislature, via a bill that passed the Assembly earlier this year and is now in a Senate committee, has a pretty specific definition: “a whole, cured, cooked sausage that is skinless or stuffed in casing, that may be known as a frankfurter, frank, furter, wiener, red hot, Vienna, bologna, garlic bologna, or knockwurst, and that may be served in a bun or roll.”

“That sounds about right,” said Frey after hearing the legislative definition. “That’s pretty much what we do. So they want to tell us we are what we are.” Continue reading