There’s a scene in the 2009 movie Confessions of a Shopaholic in which Hugh Dancy’s character gets Isla Fisher’s character to stop bothering him while he orders at a sidewalk hot dog cart by giving her $20. “That means you just paid $23 for a hot dog,” Fisher says in pleased disbelief.
“Cost and worth are very different things,” Dancy retorts.
What was a shocking plot point by 2009’s standards is now a bargain by 2023 New York City’s reality: Alex Stupak’s new restaurant Mischa offers a $29 hot dog. According to a few accounts, including Eater NY’s own Robert Sietsema, the half-pound dog is, in fact, worth the money. As we hit cookout season, some of our most iconic grilling staples are changing, getting pricier, or being reinvented. So, here's an overview of the meals, writing, and wild creations of our upcoming hot dog summer.
As Eater NY reported earlier this year, NYC’s hot dog culture is giving way to a Chicago dog moment. Also, this week sees the release of Jamie Loftus’s Raw Dog, a cultural history of hot dogs that asks us to take these sausages more seriously. In the Know, meanwhile, reminds us to consider those internet-famous hot dog rounds. But nothing speaks to the reinvention of the wieners we knew and loved like recent news from Kraft Heinz: The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is now the Frankmobile. Pour one out — preferably a hot dog martini.
As the rising price of hamburgers has proven, our humble summer food classics aren’t beyond reinvention. Veggie burgers, which have recently been dominated by fake meat, could be making the turn back into vegetables. This week, Eater’s Jaya Saxena puts the spotlight on New School, a company that seeks to improve and bring new respect to American cheese, as in melty, individually sliced, Kraft-esque sheets. Do our backyard burgers deserve better? Perhaps! Similarly, some of us might still be keeping the potato roll-related political debacles in mind while shopping for summer barbecues and trying out new buns as a result (here’s an old breakdown of potato rolls brands, care of Serious Eats, and a general recommendation for the less potato-inclined).
Nostalgia has its sway, especially in the summertime. Still, these reinvented American classics remind us that even our most formative foods leave space for new memories and new bites. And speaking of making memories: Shout out to this person, who ate a hot dog for every era at a recent Taylor Swift concert. For the non-Swifties, that’s nine hot dogs in about three hours. — Bettina Makalintal, senior reporter
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