Hot dog royalty gets grilled on disparity in bun count

Jake Selzer, a river guide with Outlaw Rivers & Jeep Tours, grabs a quick bite after a hard day on the Animas River. National Hot Dog & Sausage Council President Janet Riley, known as the “Queen of Wien,” says the group is frequently asked why packages of hot dogs and buns don’t match. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Jake Selzer, a river guide with Outlaw Rivers & Jeep Tours, grabs a quick bite after a hard day on the Animas River. National Hot Dog & Sausage Council President Janet Riley, known as the “Queen of Wien,” says the group is frequently asked why packages of hot dogs and buns don’t match.

Have you noticed that there are only seven hot dogs in a packet of Hebrew National hot dogs? Excuse me, they call them “beef franks.” I have not been able to find a bag of hot dog buns that contains only seven buns, so I’m in a bind. Unnecessarily curious, Haeryon

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, Action Line relishes the chance to have a frank discussion with hot dog experts and grill them about the link between buns and tubular meats.

So, Action Line called the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council in Washington, D.C. – yes, there is such a thing – to “ketchup” on industry trends.

Janet Riley is the council’s president, proudly carrying the title of “Queen of Wien.” (It’s even on her business card!)

“We get that question a lot,” Her Majesty confirmed.

But there’s a good reason behind the disconnect between the meat counter and the bakery department.

Hot dogs and sausages have been around a long, long time – and the standard for butchers was (and still is) to sell meat by the pound, Queen Janet pointed out.

In the old days, hot dogs and sausages were made in one long chain (thus a sausage “link”), and you’d buy however many you needed.

It wasn’t until 1940 that hot dogs were packaged the way we currently see them in the grocery store.

Most hot dogs today are sold eight to a pound and approximately 35 percent are offered in packages of 10 to the pound, according to hot dog council market research.

So tube steaks are sold by weight. Buns aren’t.

The council’s website explains it thusly: “Sandwich rolls, or hot dog buns, most often come eight to the pack because the buns are baked in clusters of four in pans designed to hold eight rolls.”

Though modern bakeries have become more flexible in their bun production, it’s hard to break with tradition.

“While baking pans now come in configurations that allow baking 10 and even 12 at a time, the eight-roll pan remains the most popular,” the council stated.

With hot dogs and buns inextricably tied to each other, you’d think the meat people and bakers would get together for a high-level summit. Would that be something the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council could coordinate?

“It would certainly require some diplomacy,” Queen Janet said, offering easier solutions.

“I see a lot options with quantities, not only in packaged hot dogs but also with buns, so it’s easier than in the past. Still, you have to do some math,” she added (so to speak).

Such is the case with Hebrew National. Its signature beef franks, reduced-fat franks, and 97 percent fat-free franks come seven to a package. The “bun length” variety is packaged in sextets. Quarter-pound franks naturally are foursomes.

Since hot dogs and buns freeze easily, you could easily preserve your odd lots.

Whipping up a batch of “beanie weenies” can take care of excess dogs. Meanwhile, tubular sandwiches could solve your bun overage.

And if you want to see the Her Majesty defending the honor of hot dogs on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, check out http://tinyurl.com/hotdog-ActionLine. Queen Riley came out as the wiener in this wurst-case scenario.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you purchase a sausage-cart business from a spoiled youngster who operates out of an old Subaru half car/half truck. You would have bought a brat brat’s Brat.

Hebrew National hot dogs come seven to a package, and buns come eight to package. Suggested solutions to the dilemma include a batch of beanie weenies or freezing the odd lots. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Hebrew National hot dogs come seven to a package, and buns come eight to package. Suggested solutions to the dilemma include a batch of beanie weenies or freezing the odd lots.

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