National Chili Dog Day, which takes place on the last Thursday of July, celebrates a dish that gives its consumers the best of many worlds. This year, it falls on July 28. It’s a day that pays homage to the chili dog — the messy and spicy dish that has satiated the appetites of millions since its invention. The simple combination of a hot dog and meat sauce — and spices, and cheese, and onions, and… whatever you prefer — is loved by many across the U.S.
History of Chilli Dog Day
The hot dog has come a long way since German immigrant Charles Feltman first sold ‘frankfurters on milk buns’ from his snack stand in 1867. It became a huge hit and eventually spread through the United States.
However, when the idea to put meat sauce and spices on hot dogs appeared, it kickstarted a wave of innovation that helped expand the scope of American cuisine. It is hard to pinpoint who exactly invented the concept of a chili dog, as many variations have emerged since the early years across the United States.
During the early 1900s, Greek and Macedonian immigrants, who were fleeing their home countries due to economic hardship, came to American shores along with their traditional meat sauce recipes. Eventually, they would be responsible for the development of the Coney Island dog — a variation seen as the definitive image of a chili dog. Despite the name, the dish did not originate in New York. The immigrants who developed the Coney Island dog settled mainly in the Great Lakes region and named it after their memories of visiting Coney Island during their journey.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, other varieties of chili dogs were being developed. Between 1918 and 1920, the ‘Texas Wiener,’ a hot dog with simple chili meat sauce, emerged in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In the early 1900s, the Hot Wiener, or ‘New York System Wiener.’ was born in Rhode Island. The Half-Smoke, a chili dog with smoked ingredients, was developed in Washington D.C.
Over time, chili dogs have become a staple of American cuisine, appearing on street corners, roadside stands, sports stadiums, diners, and restaurants. National Chili Dog Day is a day for everyone to celebrate and appreciate the chili dog. Not only is it a celebration of its versatility and satisfying taste, but it is also a celebration of its important role in American culture. Don’t forget to have a few napkins ready before digging in!
Chilli Dog Day timeline
German immigrant Charles Feltman serves the first form of hot dogs in America.
Chili con carne first appears in the U.S. from Mexican immigrants who started selling the dish publicly in San Antonio, Texas.
Chili con carne becomes a regular staple of American menus.
Nathan Handwerker opens his own chili dog stand, serving the Coney Island dog, kickstarting the Nathan's Famous chain.
Fast food drive-ins appear, allowing the mobile consumption of chili dogs.
Chilli Dog Day FAQs
How can I thicken my hot dog chili?
Many recipes suggest adding cornstarch or a little bit of flour to bring out the thickness of the chili. However, it is best to add these ingredients into the slurry rather than adding them directly to the chili as doing so can make the chili lumpy. Happy cooking!
What goes well with chili dogs?
Experts say that the best sides that go with chili dogs are corn and potatoes. It can be in any form, including corn salad, french fries, potato chips, grilled corn on the cob, or potato salad. Coleslaw is also a popular side dish. The flavors of these sides help complement the rich taste of the chili dog and enhance the eating experience.
Why should you not put ketchup on a hot dog?
Ketchup is seen as an inappropriate condiment to put on a hot dog since its sweet taste tends to cancel out everything else. The amount of sugar in ketchup disbalances the overall taste of the chili dog. But in the end, to each their own; if you like ketchup on your chili dog, go for it.
Chilli Dog Day Activities
Find some chili dogs and enjoy
National Chili Dog Day is all about flavor, so dig in and enjoy the beefy, spicy wonder. Whether it's at the ballpark, a restaurant, or a food cart, it's always the right time to enjoy one. We know that they're good, but don't eat them too fast!
Make some chili dogs yourself
Make your own batch of chili dogs for everyone to enjoy! It's simple — all you need is some hot dogs, buns, and a mix of beef, onions, cheese, and spices and you're good to go.
Host a chili cookoff
Hold a chili cookoff with your friends and see who can make the best chili! It doesn't matter who wins or loses, because there will be more than enough chili to go around. Slather the chili on some hot dogs to cap off an enjoyable gathering.
5 Facts About Chili Dogs
One famous hedgehog swears by it
Chili dogs are the favorite food of the iconic cartoon character “Sonic the Hedgehog.”
Not a snack for dieters
A normal chili dog holds 410 calories.
The cost of a prime location
A prime spot outside New York's Central Park Zoo can cost hotdog vendors up to $300,000 a year.
Americans celebrate independence with miles of dogs
Up to 150 million hot dogs are typically consumed in America during Independence Day.
A record for the ages
Michigan woman Molly Schuyler holds the world chili dog eating record, eating 50 chili dogs in 22 minutes in 2021.
Why We Love Chilli Dog Day
Chili dogs, what's not to love?
Frankly — pun intended — it's hard not to love chili dogs and the satisfaction they bring. The perfect balance of pillowy buns, rugged hot dogs, and hot, flavorful chili meshing together in your mouth in a savory tornado of pleasure is second to none. It's time to indulge!
It celebrates a dish that represents the best of cultural diversity
The chili dog represents the best of cultures coming together. ‘Chili con Carne is a Mexican-inspired dish that was developed in the 19th century and eventually became a part of popular American cuisine. The hot dog is a popular American food that originated in Germany. The combination of these two dishes showcases the power of cultural diversity.
Chili dogs are an essential part of the American identity
Chili dogs have become a staple of ballparks, street food, and culinary innovation, becoming synonymous with American cuisine itself. It has numerous variants, ranging from the Texas Wiener and Carolina Style to the Coney Island Dog and Michigan. National Chili Dog Day celebrates the iconic dish and its place in the American identity.
Chilli Dog Day dates