Hot dogs, still hot? You bet your buns.
The hot-dog craze that started to take off in the U.K. in late 2012 rolls on, with the number of hot dogs menued at U.K. chain and independent restaurants tracked by Technomic’s MenuMonitor online resource surging 156% from Q2 2013 to Q2 2014. In addition, the number of U.K. operators offering hot dogs rose 83% in that year-over-year period, and the average price of a dog climbed 15% to £6.90. In comparison, the number of burgers on U.K. menus and the number of burger-serving operators actually slid during that time, and burger prices rose only 3.7%.
Affordable, unpretentious hot dogs continue to track with U.K. diners’ interest in classic American fare. (If it was inspired by an old-school New York deli, a ’50s burger joint or a Southern barbecue shack, there’s an appetite for it.) Unlike in the U.S., though, where hot dogs appear mostly on limited-service restaurant menus, in the U.K., the vast majority of hot dogs—more than 90%, according to MenuMonitor data—are offered at full-service restaurants.
Restaurant and pub chains such as Fayre & Square, Garfunkel’s and Sizzling Pubs look to make the most of having hot dogs on the menu by featuring several hot-dog builds tailored to consumers’ differing spice and ethnic flavour preferences. “Jalapeno” and “spicy” are among the top 10 flavours listed in hot dog menu descriptions, but diners craving bold flavours without the heat can find plenty of options in operators’ many barbecue- or onion-and-mustard-topped varieties.
Indeed, similar to what we’ve seen with burgers, the use of ingredients that are trending elsewhere on menus—pulled pork as a notable example—can increase the “wow” factor with hot dogs, allowing operators to position them as signature speciality dogs and price them accordingly. Let’s consider six noteworthy spring and summer additions to hot-dog menus in the U.K.:
- The Mexican Dog, Howard (Sheffield): Topped with tomato salsa, jalapenos and guacamole (£4.95)
- Brunch Dog, Porter and Sorter (Croydon): Bacon-wrapped hot dog with sliced mushrooms and a fried egg, served in a soft white roll (£6.95)
- Gourmet Dog, Sizzling Pubs: Loaded with barbecue pulled pork, Monterey Jack cheese and onion rings (£6.25)
- The Devil Dog, Fayre & Square: A footlong Boroughbridge sausage topped with a fiery ghost chilli sauce, jalapenos and mozzarella (£8.49)
- Down to a BL(T) Dog, Ed’s Easy Diner: With bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise (£2.95)
- The Reuben Dog, Pitcher & Piano: With house-made sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing (£7.95)
Looking forward, and looking at menus of hot-dog specialists such as London’s Bubble Dogs, we can expect to see continued operator and consumer interest in unabashedly indulgent dogs (battered and/or boosted with extra meat and cheese) as well as in spicy selections given a kick from ingredients popular in Asia (Indian curry, Korean kimchi) and Latin America (fresh or fried chillis).