Hot dogs are a staple at barbecues, summer cookouts, sporting events, and even in theatres.
Whether you like them on their own or in between two thick buns, they are part of our culture at this point. We love our hot dogs, but how much do we really know about them?
We'll get to important questions like how long do hot dogs last or how do I know if hot dogs are no more edible.
But first, here’s a fun fact - sausages have a German origin, but it’s Americans that put weiners in a bun.
You’ve also probably heard words like Frankfurters and wieners. What’s the difference between them?
Put plainly, frankfurters are made entirely of pork, and weiners are a mix of beef and pork. However, in most parts of the U.S., Frankfurts typically refer to all-beef sausages.
Regardless of their differences, all hot dogs contain some form of meat mixed with preservatives. This means that they will spoil with time.
How Long Do Hot Dogs Last? Do Hot Dogs Go Bad?
The rule of thumb with any perishable food is to keep it cold if you buy it cold, warm if you buy it warm, and at room temperature if that’s how it’s available in stores.
You can always refrigerate food that is kept at room temperature in supermarkets, but that’s another story for another day. With hot dogs, you want to refrigerate or put them in the freezer as soon as you reach home from the market.
Most hot dog packets come with a ‘use by’ date. In case it doesn’t come with this date, you have about two weeks before the wieners go bad if unopened.
However, once you open the packet, you’ll want to finish its contents within a week.
Another thing with hot dogs that many people make the mistake of doing is leaving it out at room temperature for too long. Sometimes it happens that you buy them and run a few errands before returning home, which takes a few hours.
Other times, you open a packet of hot dogs and leave them on the counter while you chop vegetables or grill buns.
They are meant to be frozen food, so when you leave them out at room temperature for more than two hours, you speed up the process of them going bad.
If it’s a warm day, leaving hot dogs out at room temperature for an hour is enough to do damage.
The only two ways to store hot dogs is either to freeze or refrigerate them. Refrigerating hot dogs gives you about two weeks (unopened packet) and one week (open packet) before they spoil.
When frozen, they remain usable for up to two months. Cooking the hot dogs and then freezing them extends their shelf life by a couple more weeks, but they may lose their flavor.
How To Tell If Hot Dogs Are Bad?
Hot dogs are one of the foods that the bacteria listeria monocytogenes favors. They can grow on refrigerated weiners, but they invade those left at room temperature faster.
The result is infected hot dogs that could get you sick if you consume them. Here are some ways to tell if hot dogs are no longer usable:
- Do you notice that the outer covering of the hot dog has a slimy feel? If yes, it’s time to discard it.
- Stale hot dogs also tend to change color. At their freshest, they have a reddish hue. Their color begins to take on a grey or dull brown tone when they start to spoil.
- Another way to tell if hot dogs are bad is by their smell. You won’t have much difficulty with this because bad hot dogs emit a rancid, sour odor.
- If you see that the liquid in a hot dog packet has a milky color or consistency, there are chances that its contents are no longer edible.
- One of the non-dangerous signs of not-so-fresh sausages is when they develop icy patches.
This can happen especially if you keep them in the freezer. In this case, the sausages may not be the best tasting, but they are still edible.
It’s easy to see why everyone loves hot dogs - they are delicious, no doubt, but there are other reasons.
Firstly, they are easy to cook. Some people eat them raw, and while that’s not dangerous, it isn’t ideal. You want to at least heat these processed sausages before consuming them.
Secondly, they are filling.
Thirdly, they can be eaten on their own, in between buns, or chopped up and put into other foods (noodles, rice, salads, to name a few).
That they are available in all kinds of flavors and meat choices only elevate their appeal. Gorge on hot dogs if you like, just be sure to check and see that they are not stale.