To foreigners, I imagine apple pie, hamburgers, cheap beer and Coca Cola are the most typically American foods. And while it would be uncommon to find apple pie in my belly, they do to some extent embody the American national identity. However, in creating their generalizations about America, outsiders often overlook a crucial culinary character: the hot dog. I find this remarkable, seeing as how the hot dog makes its way to just as many burger joints and barbecues as hamburgers do. And I’m sure many would argue that hot dogs are just as succulent as hamburgers (myself included). Yet, abroad, they aren’t quite as powerful a symbol of America as a hamburger or apple pie.
The hot dog is very a humble food indeed, to remain quiet while it’s grill-mate, the hamburger, gets international fame and glory. After all, I’d argue both are equally delicious and a staple of American cuisine. Perhaps it is this humility that prevents the hot dog from spreading across the world as a proud symbol of America. It simply doesn’t embody the arrogance of the United States like greasy burgers, SUV’s, George Bush, and the other big American symbols do. But like I mentioned above, hot dogs are everywhere in this country, and I’m sure many Americans feel that the hot dog is to some extent, as strong a symbol of national identity as the apple pie. So why does it get less recognition as an American staple? (more…)