Here's What Makes Seattle-Style Hot Dogs A Regional Specialty

Seattle-style hot dog with cream cheese
Seattle-style hot dog with cream cheese - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Few foods are as ubiquitous in the United States as the humble hot dog. A study from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council tells us that the average American downs 70 dogs annually. This sausage statistic is significantly less shocking when you consider the staggering amount of unique hot dog styles available in the U.S.

Some varieties, like the Chicago hot dog, have begun receiving national notoriety. Others remain in the realm of regional recognition, and the specifics of these styles are still unclear at the local level. A Seattle-style hot dog  is one of said sausages, and before Seattle-style takes to the national stage, a consensus on the recipe will have to be reached. There's still some dissension over the ideal ingredients to include. Ultimately though, every iteration starts with cream cheese before it's dressed with other toppings. The bun is also an important consideration, and original dog's bun wasn't your average white bread base.

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The Start Of Seattle-Style Hot Dogs

Seattle hot dog with cream cheese
Seattle hot dog with cream cheese - Mateusz Koz/Shutterstock

At the tail end of the 1980s, bagel salesperson Hadley Long began serving up his bready wares with a smear of cream cheese and a selection of vegetarian fixings. When customers kept asking for hot dogs, despite initial hesitation, he dove headlong (or rather, Hadley Long) into the hot dog game. A traditional dog just wouldn't do for Long, so he enlisted Dale Jones of Seattle's Bagel Deli to custom make bialy sticks (a bun made with bagel dough, but without the boiling step), which he could craft into the perfect hot dog package. Because of the beginnings of his culinary career, the fact that Long chose to slap cream cheese on a bagel dough bun shouldn't come as a surprise.

Aside from cream cheese, today there's little consensus over the spread that constitutes Seattle-style. Long himself told The Seattle Times, "It's the bun and the cream cheese. You can put whatever toppings you want." To this day, Long insists that for his style of hot dog, simple is superior. When he enjoys his weekly Seattle-style dog, he adds just one ingredient in addition to the cream cheese, which he regularly changes. Some standards, like Dijon mustard, rotate through his repertoire. Sometimes, he'll branch into less traditional territory, and give his hot dog a kick with an exciting ingredient like kimchi.  Because of the creator's casual take on toppings, the current state of the Seattle-style dog is far from consistent.

Seattle-Style Hot Dogs Today

Seattle-style hot dog with cream cheese
Seattle-style hot dog with cream cheese - Toyakisphoto/Shutterstock

Long has lived outside of Seattle for several decades now, but the Seattle-style dog he invented in the aptly named Pioneer Square is still a staple in the city. Long's notion that the bun and cream cheese are the dog's defining characteristics still stands. Cream cheese can be found on every Seattle-style dog, though other common toppings include Sriracha and caramelized onion. And though bialy buns are not standard, the bread is often given special attention.

Seattle native Josh Nebe, owner of Beast & Cleaver, believes burning his buns ensures the best contrast of temperature, taste, and texture. Other chefs get creative with the cream cheese itself. Binyam Wolde of Dirty Dog makes cream cheese whipped with pesto or peppers, and Geoffrey Redd tops his Seattle-style dogs with farmer's cheese, a whipped spread that combines sweet and savory elements. Yogurt and garlic confit are among the ingredients Redd includes to upgrade plain cream cheese. If you're ever in Seattle, you should try this regional favorite, just don't be shocked if your dog is dressed with unexpected ingredients.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal