Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs

Tor/Forge. May 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781250847744. $26.99. HUMOR
Answering to names such as sausage, wiener, frankfurter, kielbasa, and brat, the “American” hot dog is really an immigrant (Germany, Poland, Greece, Italy, and Austria) originating from the Paleolithic sausage. In this diary-style travelogue, Loftus (a comedian, TV writer, and host of the podcasts Ghost Church, My Year in Mensa, and Aack Cast) describes a cross-country road trip to investigate the landscape of American hot dogs and critique regional hot dog recipes, all while sharing her observations on love and happiness. Her commentary ranges from specific brands (Nathan’s, Hebrew National, Oscar Mayer) to hot dog vendors (Wienerschnitzel, Auntie Anne’s, Costco, Home Depot, Clowndog Hot Dog Parlor, JJ’s Red Hots, the Varsity). The book also discusses COVID and its effect on the meat-packing industry, Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile, and baseball. The 12-title bibliography does not include every source that’s referred to in the book (for example, Loftus refers to an online video about hot dog production but doesn’t include the URL in the text or bibliography), and “Recommended Eating” lists only five hot dog businesses. Still, this is a fun nonfiction title.
VERDICT Equal parts meat-processing indictment, travelogue, hot dog history, and odd facts, this book is irreverent, hilarious, entertaining, honest, and, at times, gross. Will fascinate readers interested in hot dogs, road trips, and regional recipes.
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