To devote an entire issue of What’s Up Yukon to the celebration of the hot dog, one must completely understand exactly what a hot dog is … and isn’t.
Immediately what scratches at the mind is the question: What is the difference between a sausage and a hot dog?
I laugh, because I know exactly what the difference is: you put flavour on top of a hot dog (mustard, ketchup, et al.) while the flavour is already inside a sausage.
I decided to talk to hot dog enthusiasts and hot dog vendors for their own feelings on the subject. All I got was a shrug (at most) and a half-hearted explanation that a hot dog is, indeed, a sausage… just a different kind of sausage.
Still not good enough… so I Googled it.
The website www.DifferenceBetween.net tells us that, yeah, they are the same.
But isn’t that a lot like referring to a parking lot full of cars as Fords?
Why, then, would we say, “sausages and hot dogs”?
I scrolled down further.
The website suggests that hot dogs are a snack, while sausages can be a meal.
And the texture of the hot dog is that of pureed paste (which is exactly what it is) while a sausage has bits of meat still distinguishable.
Aha… here it is: the hot dog is an Americanized German sausage. It is designed to be quicker to prepare (having been pre-cooked) and bland enough to appeal to the lowest common denominating palate.
I am on a mission now… I go to Yukon Meat and Sausage for the answers I seek. Look… the word “sausage” is right there in its name.
I am directed to the basement where the sausages, and the rest of the magic, are created.
I have long heard that nobody wants to see laws or sausages made, so I was ready to shield my eyes.
However, I entered a clean and bright and clean room that housed gleaming equipment. And, instead of encountering trolls, I met two professionals: Jurgen Haas (with the reassuring European name) is the butcher and sausage maker; Chris Jordan is the meat cutter.
They laughed when I told them hot dogs have their own special week.
“They do?” Jordan asked.
Haas is still laughing.
“We need to make a lot of these,” Jordan continues.
I try to help out with the question of the day: What is the difference between sausages and hot dogs?
“Hot dogs and sausages are the same,” says Haas.
But are hot dogs more bland?
“It depends on the spices,” says Jordan.
Haas and Jordan are not anti-hot dog, they say, explaining that they make European Weiners.
“But the spice is different,” says Haas. “Ours is secret, everybody has their different kind of spice and keeps it secret.
“And I don’t use chemicals.
“The real difference between anything is the passion of the butcher,” Haas finally says. “Some butchers don’t have passion, so they don’t make nice sausages.
“My goal is to be able to look the customer in the face.”
Jordan explains a little further: “You can be honest with the customer.”
Haas shakes his head, “We are ambassadors to the food industry.”
I leave to allow them to start their day, filling the display cases of The Deli upstairs. But they were too polite – too professional – to tell me what I suspected to be the real answer.