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A hot dog is a sausage served in a sliced bun. They may be garnished with mustard, ketchup, onion, mayonnaise, relish or sauerkraut. Claims about hot dog invention are difficult to assess, as stories assert the creation of the sausage, the placing of the sausage on bread or a bun as finger food, the popularization of the existing dish, or the application of the name "hot dog" to a sausage and bun combination most commonly used with ketchup or mustard and sometimes relish.

The idea of a hot dog on a bun is ascribed to the wife of a German named Antonoine Feuchtwanger, who sold hot dogs on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1880, because his customers kept taking the white gloves handed to them for eating without burning their hands. Anton Ludwig Feuchtwanger, a Bavarian sausage seller, is said to have served sausages in rolls at the World's Fair–either the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago or the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis –again allegedly because the white gloves he gave to customers so that they could eat his hot sausages in comfort began to disappear as souvenirs.

Common hot dog ingredients are meat by-products and fat, flavorings, such as salt, garlic, and paprika, preservatives (cure) - typically sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite.

In the US, if variety meats, cereal or soy fillers are used, the product name must be changed to "links" or the presence must be declared as a qualifier.

Pork or beef are the traditional meats used in hot dogs. Less expensive hot dogs are often made from chicken or turkey, using low cost mechanically separated poultry. Hot dogs often have high sodium, fat and nitrite content, ingredients linked to health problems. Changes in meat technology and dietary preferences have led manufacturers to use turkey, chicken, vegetarian meat substitutes, and to lower the salt content.

If a manufacturer produces two types of hot dogs, "wieners" tend to contain pork and are blander, while "franks" tend to be all beef and more strongly seasoned.

Common hot dog condiments include ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, coleslaw, sauerkraut, onion, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, cheese and chili peppers. They are served in a bun.

The world's longest hot dog created was 60 m (196.85 ft), which rested within a 60.3 m bun. The hot dog was prepared by Shizuoka Meat Producers for the All-Japan Bread Association, which baked the bun and coordinated the event, including official measurement for the world record. The hot dog and bun were the center of a media event in celebration of the Association's 50th anniversary on August 4, 2006.

The world's most expensive hot dog was prepared by Joe Calderone for Trudy Tant. Featuring truffle oil, duck foie gras, and truffle butter, the dog sold for $69.

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