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Lowly 'Haute Dog’ Gets a PR Makeover
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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Whether you call it a foot long, a wiener, or a Fenway Frank, the hot dog has long been considered a lowly meal. Anything that is commonly served out of a roadside stand, a ballpark, or a 7-Eleven is going to take a beating in the PR sweepstakes. But wait. A new cookbook has set its sights on raising this renowned ‘sausage in a supermarket bun’ to stratospheric heights for a much-needed PR makeover.

Haute Dogs: Recipes for Delicious Hot Dogs, Buns and Condiments is Russell van Kraayenburg’s 168-page book showcasing 100 mouth-watering recipes and lush photographs of dare I say "elegant" hot dog creations that would not be out of place at a Manhattan soiree of taut-face socialites.  

Whether it’s the Plain Jane, The New York Style, The Chicago Dog, The Rule Breaker, The Coney Island Dog, the Texas Hot Dog, the Michigan Dog, The Red Snapper, the Italian Dog, the Montreal Steamie, the Half Smoke, the Slaw Dog, the Corn Dog, the Maple Syrup Breakfast Dog, the Beer-Batter Dog, or the Spicy Waffle Dog, you won’t want to share any of it with your actual dog.

That’s because the Texas food fanatic and writer takes the mystery out of this much-maligned tube of mystery meat by recommending readers stick to dogs that are made of prime ingredients (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, veal, lamb, bison or just about any exotic meat you can think of). He even suggests soy, vegetables or other healthy but tasty ingredients, avoiding at all costs the mass-produced hot dogs found in grocery stores. 

The PR genius in the book is that it is not only filled with tasty recipes, but also with fun and cultural facts about hot dogs (The Los Angeles Times once ran the headline ‘Secret of Hot Dog is Exposed’), thereby taking some of the fear out of a food that for some has best been avoided.

An American standard

The convenience chain 7-Eleven sells approximately 100 million "fresh-grilled" hot dogs every year, which could feed every person in frankfurter-loving Chicago a Big Bite® hot dog every day for a month. In fact, about one in five visitors to 7-Eleven purchase a Big Bite hot dog.

They say you judge a person by their friends. If this is the case, then pairing the hot dog with upper-class, homemade condiments, buns and sausages made from scratch might go a long way to raising the status of this lower-class citizen on the food train.

Kraayenburg is not the first to come along to feed a new line on hot dogs to the American public.

The "Hot Doc" is in

Today’s PRs might take a note from Nathan Handwerker (he of the famous Nathan’s hot dogs), who after working at a Coney Island restaurant decided to open his own eatery in 1916. He competed as a lower-priced alternative, drawing much scepticism about the quality of his food. So, Nathan asked a group of homeless people to dress up like doctors, offering free food to actual doctors and nurses.

The PR stunt worked.

Once people started seeing medical professionals enjoying Nathan’s Famous, they made the connection to "good food." Nathan’s is still in business today, selling more than 435 million hot dogs last year.

And what PR has not at least once suggested using the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile as a PR stunt? At 27-feet-long and 14,050 pounds, the famed Wienermobile is one of America’s most iconic vehicles (there are a total of six in existence).

This past winter, Motor Trend magazine ran its successful #Tweet2Lease social media campaign featuring the Wienermobile, awarding one lucky winner an eight-hour spin in the famed mechanical hot dog (with a specially-trained driver, of course, called a Hotdogger).

Thus capitalizing on the fact that more than 50% of Oscar Mayer’s Facebook interactions are based on none other than the Wienermobile.

Whether grilled, deep-fried, smoked, simmered, boiled, roasted, rolled, steamed, barbecued or driven, you will never look at a hot dog the same again after reading this book.

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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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