Today, the menu categories that soar are ones that have tapped into serious flavor innovation. As evidence, look to the booming success of the premium burger, or fried chicken sandwich, or tacos. Or pizza. All of these have gained momentum and secured street-cred status thanks to clever flavor and textural play.
The hot dog holds the next big opportunity for innovation. The all-American hot dog has been enjoying renewed culinary attention over the last few years, thanks to places like Hot Doug’s in Chicago. Now, chefs are mindfully constructing the toppings, making them craveable and unique—all while keeping the casual, fun side of the hot dog in the crosshairs. And they’re doing it by tapping into trending flavor combinations.
“We see chefs seeking to discover innovative ways to complement their menus with ingredients that not only provide texture but a touch of heat,” says Gary Patterson, Executive Research Chef, Director of Culinary Science, McCormick & Company. “These additions create memorable points of differentiation that customers crave and return for.”
He points to AMC Theatre’s Spicy Sriracha Hot Dog. “This menu item is one of four Loaded Hot Dog options and features Sriracha mayo and French’s™ Crispy Jalapeños for a craveable crunch with a kick of spicy flavor,” he says. That combination of heat with a crispy, savory counterpoint is proving to be a winning combination.
- Shrimp dog: Shrimp hot dog on a toasted bun, topped with tartar sauce, shoestring potatoes and Old Bay
—Stray Dog, Portland, Ore.
- Denmark Dog with rémoulade, brown mustard, crispy onions, chopped onion and Kosher pickle
—Billy’s Gourmet, Denver and Boulder, Colo.
- Sooo Cali with wild arugula, spicy basil aïoli, crispy onions, avocado and tomato
—Doghaus, multiple locations
- The Howlamo (Texas): Wild boar sausage with pork belly, chicharrones, baconaisse, scallions
—Destination Dogs, New Brunswick, N.J.
- The JunkYard Dog: foot long topped with chili, diced onion, jalapeños, creamy mac n’ cheese, crispy french fries, shredded Colby cheese and hickory smoked bacon crumbles on a sub bun
—JunkYard Dog, Jackson, Mich.