6 Things We Learned About The Wiener Business From The Founder Of The Hot Dog University

It’s the middle of National Hot Dog Month and today just so happens to be National Hot Dog Day, so what better time than now to learn a little bit more about those wieners, and the business of selling them? Because yes, there is a Hot Dog University run by a master of hot dogs, who seems to have all the answers.

Time.com has an interesting interview with Mark Reitman, who teaches a $699 two-day course about how to operate a hot dog stand, or “the art of the cart,” at the Vienna Beef factory in Chicago.

Here’s what we learned in this mini-course — for more, check out Time’s interview.

1. The Hot Dog University has had over 800 students: Of those 800 students, 300 have opened restaurants and 500 have set up hot dog carts, according to Reitman

2. You can simmer a hot dog (but don’t boil it) or chargrill it: But “don’t just throw the dog on there,” he explains. Score the dog first and crosscut the ends so it doesn’t get too big and explode.

3. Ketchup is acceptable on a hot dog, with one exception: “It doesn’t belong on a Chicago-style hot dog because the tomatoes and relish already provide that sweetness.”

4. Speaking of which, there is a correct way to put the seven toppings on a Chicago-style dog (something you Chicagoans out there no doubt already know): A thin line of mustard on top, green relish, diced onions, two thinly-sliced tomato wedges on one side and two sport peppers on the others, a cold pickle spear down the middle and a dash of celery salt.

5. There is no place for meatless dogs in the hot dog university: That’s for one simple reason — “hot dogs are not health food, they’re comfort food.”

6. Grilled onions are used as an aromatic lure to bring in customers: The smell works like bait, whether you end up eating an onion or not. “Even if we don’t put the onions on the hot dogs, we do that whenever it gets slow to attract customers to the cart,” Reitman explains.

Meet the Man Behind Hot Dog University [Time.com]