Dog Days of Summer to decide winning wiener

Hot dog toppings get inventive at Dog Days of Summer. / Provided Hot dog toppings get inventive at Dog Days of Summer. / Provided

With all the barbecues, fireworks and ballgames that go down this month, it’s no wonder all 31 of July’s days are dedicated to the all-American tubular meat. That’s right, people, we’re well into National Hot Dog Month. On Saturday, South Street Headhouse District and hot dog restaurant Hot Diggity! (630 South St.) celebrate the month of the wiener — and toppings too — with the third annual Dog Days of Summer.

The pros

Dog Days is a showdown of the city’s meanest weenies, with 20 restaurants, including Alla Spina, Bridget Foy’s, Industry Bar, Society Hill Society and Twisted Tail, competing to create the most delicious dog.

“Each year it keeps getting bigger and bigger,” says Dog Days mastermind and Hot Diggity! owner Keith Garabedian. “It’s fun to get other restaurants involved because you don’t see hot dogs on a lot of menus. It’s cool to have these amazing restaurants participate and see how that translates.”

The key to a winning frank, advises Garabedian, is balance. “It needs to work as a complete sandwich,” he says. “There needs to be a balance between bread and meat and toppings. And don’t overpower the flavor of the hot dog.”

The amateurs

Home cooks will also get a chance to compete, in a battle of the toppings. The theme for accoutrements is Philly: “Anything that speaks to you as a Philadelphian,” says Garabedian.

The winner will have his or her topping featured on the Hot Diggity! menu for a month. Full disclosure: This writer will be among the judges making a call on the best locally inspired toppings, braving scrapple, Wiz and Peanut Chews piled high. Marc Summers of Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare” and the Food Network’s “Upwrapped” will also be at the judges’ table.

Short and sweet

We got a glimpse inside a judging mind when we asked Marc Summers the tough questions — and got some opinionated answers.

Q: What makes a winning hot dog?
A: All beef is key in my opinion. And great beef.

Q: What will you be looking at when judging?
A: Looking for overall taste.

Q: If there’s one thing we should never, ever put on a hot dog, what would it be?
A: Never ever, ever, ever put ketchup on a dog!

Dog Days of Summer
Saturday, July 19
1-4 p.m.
Headhouse Square Shambles, 400 block of S. Second St. between Lombard and Pine
Pay as you go

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