What food could be more American than the Hot Dog? What is your favorite? - a chili dog, a cheese dog, or a foot-long dog? A multitude of toppings can enhance the flavor of your hot dog. Common toppings used on hot dogs include ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, chili, cheese, and sauerkraut.
Hot dogs are popular among Americans because they are easy to make, inexpensive, and delicious. Hot dogs can be prepared in a number of great ways--nuke-em, grill-em, sauté-em, roast-em, fry-em or boil-em.
Most recipes for hot dogs combine together a tasty blend of favorite meats (pork, beef, chicken, or turkey), meat fat, a cereal filler which could be either bread crumbs, flour, or oatmeal, a little bit of egg white, and a mouth-watering array of herbs and seasonings including garlic, pepper, ground mustard, nutmeg, salt, and onion.
Once these ingredients are grinded together, the stuffing is squeezed into sausage casings. Many of the hot dogs sold in stores are enclosed in synthetic cellulose casings, but most home-made hot dogs are made out of natural animal intestines.
During the 'Gilded Age' increased production meant that more products were available to the public, but buying them was not always a good idea. Consumers often did not know what was in the products because the government did not regulate product quality.
Meat was one example. In his 1906 novel The Jungle, muckraker Upton Sinclair wrote about unsanitary conditions in meatpacking plants.
Read excerpt from The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and answer these 3 questions.
1) What do you suppose was the reaction of the public when they found out what was in their meat?
2) Why did meat companies allow this to happen?
3) How is our food better regulated today as a result?
Read this excerpt from Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, watch the trailer for the movie, then answer the next 3 questions.
4) Compare this reading to Upton Sinclair's 100 years ago. Have we learned our lesson?
5) Both Upon Sinclair and Eric Schlosser were "Muckrakers" and used their books to cause change in our society. Perhaps some day you too will write a great American novel; but until that time what greater power do you have? Will you think twice the next time you pull up to the Drive-Thru window?
6) Sinclair himself once stated: “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” He intended the book to raise public consciousness about the plight of the working poor; like the Lithuanian family in his story. Who do you think works in the slaughterhouses of today? What hasn't changed?