Preferences vary, but National Hot Dog Month is universal

From pickles to plain — locals savor the sweet taste of summer
Jul. 05, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

From how they're made and cooked to how they're dressed, the one thing rarely debated about hot dogs is their status as an American summer treat.

July is National Hot Dog Month, and this Fourth of July weekend, it's estimated Americans will chow down on 155 million dogs.

Yarborough's Homemade Ice Cream shop sells anywhere from 800 to 1,000 hot dogs a week, according to Michael Yarborough, the owner's son and ice cream maker, and they offer a variety of toppings.

"People like them all the way," he said, "[with] everything, especially our homemade slaw."

Yarborough remembers making hot dogs as a kid in his father's store and said he'd argue they have the best dogs in town.

The most popular way hot dogs are ordered at Big T's Restaurant is "5,000 ways," said owner Tommy Carter.

"Onions, slaw, chili, mustard, all the way," Carter said. "I've had people who've asked us to put lettuce and tomatoes on a hot dog."

The toppings don't matter to him, he said, and he enjoys the dogs regardless of how they're cooked or dressed.

"I think they have a good reputation down here in the South and in Sanford," Carter said. "I think it's nostalgic. It brings back memories of childhood."

Hot dogs make Bill Howard think of baseball games, and he said he prefers an all-American, all-beef dog with mustard and onions.

"One of the best dogs I had was at Nathan's Hot Dogs in New York," he said. "Or Sahlen's hot dogs in Buffalo."

Linda Dilley likes her hot dogs with ketchup and mustard but is also partial to Chicago-style dogs — topped with raw onions, sweet relish, sorted peppers, a pickle spear, tomato slices, celery stalk and a poppy-seed bun. But the best she's had, she said, was German-style Usinger sausage.

"I don't eat them too often, but they remind me of summer," she said. "Of going outside and tailgating."