Genius often goes unappreciated in its time. Van Gogh died penniless. Galileo lived his final years under house arrest. And several of my (otherwise talented) colleagues rejected the very blog post you’re currently reading: a blog post about hot dog salad.
Yes, a Google search for “hot dog salad” will bring up a Rachel Ray recipe where slices of frankfurter are placed upon pickles, cabbage, and onion in a playful riff on a Chicago-style dog, but this is not about that. No, my invention is a hot dog-based dish which evokes other spreadable salads and their associated sandwiches: chicken, tuna, egg, and of course, the beloved lobster roll.
Nearly every other protein can be suspended in mayonnaise and lathered onto bread. Why not a hot dog?
Of course, the very suggestion of such a spread is a kind of provocation. A hot dog is a forcemeat, something already ground up and reconstituted. To become salad, a hot dog would have to be broken apart again, undoing all the hard work that went into making a mysterious assortment of scrap meats into an appetizing whole.
This, I have to imagine, is why I was told that our sister site Lifehacker doesn’t “really like” to publish anything “that isn’t a hack (i.e., an improvement on the original food/recipe/process).” Deadspin expressed a similar lack of interest in publicizing hot dog salad, a food item, which, to the best of my knowledge, has never been attempted before. On the verge of making history, I was surrounded by doubters.
But did Leonardo seek approval before painting the Mona Lisa? Did Alexander Graham Bell ask for permission to create his telephone? Met with only disgust and indifference, I went for it anyway.
My first job was mincing the dogs, each of which, I found, yielded approximately 1/4 cup of beef and pork chunks. I then added one heaping tablespoon of mayo and a half teaspoon of lemon juice to achieve the desired consistency. Desirability in general, however, was in short supply—which made black pepper a must.
Using the lobster roll as a template, I first tried adding minced celery, which I found too delicate to stand up to the exceptional fattiness of the hot dogs. The vinegar in minced dill pickles (1/2 tablespoon, but really it’s to-taste) served to cut through much better. And, like most ground meat salads, the texture was a bit lacking on its own, so a buttered and toasted bun was crucial.
Was the hot dog salad, by common definitions, good? No. In my tasting notes I recorded that it was “unctuous” and “slightly slimy.” I initially attempted to dismantle the all-beef wieners using the smallest side of a box grater, which was viscerally upsetting. After eating it, I seemed to feel my arteries tighten, my pupils shrink to pinpoints, and a wave of nausea mixed with meat-sweats wash over me.
In the end, hot dog salad is less of a meal and more a mouth joke. Yet with the gracious understanding of my editors here at Gizmodo, I now share this joke with the world so that another might grab the greasy, mechanically extruded torch. I can only hope to see the day that hot dog salad is perfected, if not by me, then by other believers.