Today on the tray: Hot dogs

hot dog and soda
Veggie dog and Diet RC cola at my favorite hot dog spot, Top Dog in Oakland, Calif.

July 23 is National Hot Dog Day.

In 2016, consumers spent more than $2.4 billion on hot dogs in U.S. supermarkets, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. On Independence Day, Americans enjoy 150 million hot dogs, enough to stretch from D.C. to L.A. over five times. Yet hot dogs sales are declining, according to BusinessWeek. Perhaps that’s because today’s hot dog advertising doesn’t match the great hot dog commercials of the past.

This 1967 Armour Hot Dog commercial emphasizes equity and inclusion, inviting all kids to take a bite regardless of body size/shape (“fat kids, skinny kids”), conformity to gender stereotypes (“tough kids, sissy kids”), or health status (“even kids with chickenpox”).

Armour Hot Dogs commercial (1967)

Hot dogs, Armour Hot Dogs
What kind of kids eat Armour Hot Dogs?
Fat kids, skinny kids
Kids who climb on rocks
Tough kids, sissy kids
Even kids with chickenpox
Love hot dots, Armour Hot Dogs
The dogs kids like to bite!

Parents: Why not serve Armour Hot Dogs at your next pox party, and turn a boring disease-spreading event into a fun cookout? After all, even kids with chickenpox love Armour Hot Dogs.

Oscar Mayer took a different approach to marketing its hot dogs, choosing to tap into kids’ universal desire to be loved and to be wieners.

Oscar Mayer wiener commercial (1965)

Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener
That is what I’d truly like to be
’Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener
Everyone would be in love with me.

Okay, but what would that jingle wound like if it were sung by Jay Sherman of The Critic on an episode of The Simpsons, in Italian? Probably something like this:

Jay Sherman on The Simpsons with Italian dubbing, “A Star is Burns” (March 5, 1995)

Below, in a classic 1972 commercial, Hebrew National tries to explain to gentiles why they should care if their hot dogs are kosher. A creepy Uncle Sam holds out a hot dog while a voiceover lists all the gross stuff that the government allows to be inside the frankfurters — meat byproducts, artificial coloring, etc. (They don’t mention rat dung or spider eggs, but I’m sure those are in there too.) But Hebrew National answers to a higher authority, up in the heavens.

Hebrew National hot dog commercial (1972)

Government regulations say we can make our Hebrew National beef hot dogs from frozen beef. We don’t. The government says we can use artificial coloring. We don’t. They say we can add meat byproducts. We don’t. They say we can add non-meat fillers. We can’t. We’re kosher… and have to answer to an even higher authority.

At the end, Uncle Sam nods in acknowledgement and then takes a bite of the bad hot dog anyway as the camera points heavenward.

So, whether your taste runs towards Armour, Oscar Mayer, Hebrew National, or another brand, have a happy Hot Dog Day!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s