Today is 'National Hot Dog Day,’ which makes today a good day to revisit the primer on the proper preparation and consumption of a hot dog, the All-American grill favorite.

1. The absolute best hot dogs are prepared over an open flame, preferably with a charcoal fire; a distant second is heating it in a skillet with a little butter. If you want it to be as tasteless as possible, boil it.

2. Use a bun that is split on the top, not on the side; the condiments stay where they’re supposed that way.

3. Use all beef hot dogs. Trust me, the difference is noticeable.

4. The condiments:
A) Your basic building block of the condiment selection is yellow mustard; for most other dishes, I prefer brown mustard, but the yellow mustard just seems to complement the hot dog flavor. You can quit right here and having a perfectly fine dog, but there are other good toppings.
B) The next condiment to add is pickle relish; just like yellow mustard, the flavors just seem to go together. I have little use for pickle relish absent a hot dog, but for this use, it’s perfect.
C) The third and final of what I consider the first tier of condiments is the glorious freshly chopped onion.

You really don’t need more than that to have a great dog, but there are other things you can add (the “second tier” condiments):

D) Chili is a favorite, but there’s something about eating chili in the summer that doesn’t seem right. I’m all about it when the weather is cooler, though.
E) Jalapeños. Their flavor is pretty strong, so you run the risk of losing the hot dog flavor, but, every once in a while, it’s acceptable.
F) Cheese: grated cheddar, pepper jack, or even american cheese is another “sometimes” condiment.
G) Polish pickle spears (in lieu of relish).
H) Red onion sauce. I prefer freshly chopped yellow onion, but red onion sauce is a nice substitute.

There are others that people put on a dog, like coleslaw and barbecue sauce, but I don’t use them enough to merit inclusion.

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council has my back. Their hot dog etiquette guide has some smart tidbits: “Don’t use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18." Also stating that "mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili are acceptable.”

Things to NEVER put on a hot dog: There is only one item on this list: SAUERKRAUT. not only does it not belong on a hot dog, it doesn’t belong in your home.

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