Hot dogs are everywhere. You can find them in Sydney, New York, even in Asia and the rest of the world. They can be in hot dog carts on the streets, or served at parties and events. There is no denying how much these treats are loved. Apart from their classic delicious goodness, hot dogs can be served in many different ways that will surely tickle the tongue.

But how are hot dogs made? How do they turn from meat into that mouth-watering tube of magic for your mouth?

It all starts with meat trimmings – the pieces of meat that are cut away from larger pieces. They can be from steaks, ribs, thighs, chops and breasts. Hot dogs can be made from pork, beef, chicken or a mix of these. Whichever type of meat is used, they basically follow similar manufacturing processes.


Pre-cooking eliminates bacteria and other impurities that may be present when the meat was processed. Additionally, this helps separate the meat and fat from the bones. Depending on the type of animal and size of the parts, the pre-cooking time may vary.


The meat is finely ground by stainless steel choppers or grated metal plates at high speed in a huge vat and then mixed together. In this stage, the meat is also mixed with spices, seasonings, binders and curing agents. Water is added into the mixture to make sure it has the right consistency and all the ingredients blend evenly. Ice is also added to reduce friction from all the grinding. The grinding process results in an emulsion or ‘meat batter’. 


After the meat has been thoroughly ground, it then goes into a stuffer machine. This equipment pumps the meat puree into casings, twisting them every 15 centimetres (the standard size of a hot dog) and creating a long hot dog chain. The casings are usually made of cellulose which are removed later on. Some hot dogs have natural casings which remain intact until they are eaten.


Once the hot dogs are stuffed in casings, they are loaded onto racks and then moved into a smokehouse where all cooking takes place. A smokehouse has controlled temperatures and humidity to ensure the hot dogs are cooked just right. While in the cooking zones, the hot dogs are showered with liquid smoke that adds flavours as they are being cooked.  


In preparation for packaging, the cooked hot dogs are showered with cold salty water. Each chain is placed inside an automatic peeler that strips away the cellulose casings. To ensure quality, inspectors make sure the casings have been completely removed and the dogs have no defects and not broken. Next, they are wrapped and vacuum sealed into individual packages by a vacuum packaging machine to preserve their freshness.

It’s truly interesting to learn how the things we like are made. The entire process can be quite long, but today’s modern equipment make hot dog production fast and efficient. Some manufacturers can produce approximately 300,000 hot dogs every hour and others make half a million in a day. 

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