Toppings & Trends: A Look at America's Perfect Hot Dog

It’s an American staple and one of America's most beloved culinary traditions – hot dogs. As a staple, many variations and preferences exist on what makes the perfect hot dog. In a recent survey conducted among 1,000 Americans, US Foods® sought to explore these opinions to see what the ideal hot dog is, while also discovering what hot dog topping reigns supreme in each state. Whether you're a die-hard fan or just curious, learn about the iconic, sometimes controversial, but undeniably tasty world of hot dogs and the American hot dog culture.

Table of Contents:

Hot Dog Nation: Unveiling American Appetite and Opinions

What do Americans think of the classic hot dog, and which style is their favorite? - Study from

Most Americans (93%) have a love affair with hot dogs, while 91% savor the iconic taste. The age-old question of whether a hot dog is a sandwich sparks a lively debate, with 33% saying “Yes, a hot dog IS a sandwich” while 67% believe it’s a food category all on its own.

On average, Americans enjoy two hot dogs a month and are willing to spend $5.88 for the perfect bite. While two hot dogs a month may seem like a lot to some, to others, it might just depend on the season. More than
2 in 5 say they eat more hot dogs during certain months, particularly in summer.

Chicago hot dogs reign supreme when it comes to famous regional-style hot dogs. Other popular hot dog styles include the New York hot dog, the California hot dog, the Texan hot dog, and the Michigan Coney (hot dog with chili.)

Hot dogs aren’t just for the kids. When it comes to a restaurant’s menu, 71% voted for hot dogs to be listed as both an entrée and on kids menus.

The vast majority (91%) of consumers agree that hot dogs are undeniably an American staple food.

America's Most Popular Hot Dog Toppings

What popular hot dog topping is the most popular in each state - Study from

Each person has their preferences when it comes to hot dog toppings. But are there any regional trends when it comes to these condiments?

We know Chicagoans believe ketchup doesn’t belong on hot dogs, so it makes sense that mustard is the most popular topping in Illinois. Nearby Michigan prefers chili, which also makes sense, considering the popular Michigan Coney.

In the South, mustard reigns supreme, except for Florida, which prefers ketchup.

Although not as popular as ketchup or mustard, several states prefer onions or relish as their hot dog condiment of choice. Washington is the only state in the West that likes onions with their hot dogs, and is joined by some states like Minnesota and Indiana. Relish is also popular in the Midwest, as the preferred condiment in states like Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

On the East Coast, there’s a variety of popular toppings among all the states. New York, home of the famous New York-style hot dog, loves onions, while New Jersey prefers ketchup. Maine is all about the relish, while neighbors Vermont and New Hampshire like mustard and onions, respectively.

The Perfect American Hot Dog

A look at the perfect average hot dog looks like, according to Americans - study from

One of the popular hot dog controversies revolves around ketchup, and 84% of Americans believe ketchup is an acceptable hot dog topping (sorry, Chicago). But for the perfect dog, Americans believe the top condiments are mustard, ketchup, onions, relish and chili. The hot dog should be grilled and served on a white bun. The most popular sides are french fries, potato salad, potato chips, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese.

What does the perfect hot dog look like? Using our survey data to see what toppings, sides, type of bread and method of cooking the average American prefers, we created an AI-generated image of the perfect hot dog.

Take a look. Would you eat it?

Ai hot dog


In December 2023, US Foods surveyed 1,009 people who reflected the demographic makeup of the general American population.

In that month, we also analyzed Google search terms related to hot dogs and hot dog toppings to complete this study. For state data, we looked at search volume per capita over the past 12 months.

The AI-generated hot dog was created using Adobe Firefly.

Citing This Survey

When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing