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What is a Kosher Hot Dog?

A kosher hot dog might sound like an oxymoron.

When I was young, we called a hot dog “mystery meat.” No one thought about where the “meat” came from to make that all-American sausage.

Kosher hot dogs were invented in the early 1900s and are made from beef that has been slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law. They were very popular in the 1920s after the release of the book by Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, which described the environment of the slaughterhouses in Chicago. This was also the time that meatless “hamburgers” were invented. Sinclair’s book had profound and lasting impact on the slaughterhouse industry. It led even non-Jews to look for foods with higher safety and sanitary standards than the usual slaughterhouse.

Pork, the standard base meat for a hot dog, is not kosher.

Leviticus 11 (NIV): “You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. … And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.”

No reason to miss out on your hot dog at the summer cookout. You can keep kosher and enjoy a hot dog. Here are 3 tips:

1 – Choose the right hot dog:

A beef kosher hot dog uses only beef. A non-beef kosher hot dog might use beef and chicken. Read the label if you have a question.

2 – Watch the condiments:

No dairy should be eaten with beef, so no mayonnaise, cheese, or other condiments that include dairy.

3 – Choose a bun wisely:

Many bread products include dairy. Read the label to confirm or make your own!

If you are choosing a kosher hot dog to keep the kosher law, or if you are just looking for an animal slaughtered in a more humane way, EAT kosher!

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