The Great Debate: Frankfurter Edition
The other day, Dr. Emil Shuffhausen and I were walking down State Street, when I posited one of my more controversial, and previously unstated, theories. I told him that I thought the bun constituted about 80% of the taste of a hot dog. He immediately gave me the stink eye, and accused me of only saying that to be unnecessarily provocative.
The challenge thus being issued, we decided to take this debate public. We figured this was more constructive than settling things by taking turns slapping each other in the face with our gloves. Here is my buttal, followed by the Doctor's rebuttal. Any doctoral student looking to use this topic for their dissertation must first get permission from the authors.
PRO: "The importance of the bun is often understated"
By Chris Schneider
Who among us can resist a nice warm, steamed, poppy-seed bun? The answer? Nobody.
The bun is really the basis from which the rest of the hot dog derives its taste. Think about it - you can take an average tasting dog and put it in a great bun, and suddenly you have a delicious frankfurter. Conversely, if you have a delicious hot dog wrapped in a crusty, dry bun, it ruins it completely. Your lips just can't get over being presented with such an inhospitable first impression.
As you can see, Dr. Shuffhausen is a hot dog novice, as evidenced by his contention that the bun only serves to protect one's hands from "mustard and ketchup." Any tube steak veteran will tell you that ketchup has no place near a hot dog, nor in any discussion thereof. To quote the Beastie Boys, his arguments are "cheaper than a hot dog with no mustard." Being lectured on hot dogs by such a novice is like being lectured on political correctness by Michael Richards.
Furthermore, Dr. Shuffhausen's position has been bought and sold by "Big Wiener." He clearly no longer represents the middle class taste buds of Wisconsin. His license to practice medicine should be immediately revoked.
I realize that taking this position (as well as my lack of a law degree) might very well hamper my chances of one day being a U.S. Supreme Court justice. But it needed to be said.
Vote bun '08.
CON: "No F***ing Way"
By Dr. Emil Shuffausen (of the Shuffhausen clinic in Vienna)
While I readily concede that the hot dog bun is rich in bunly goodness, my counterpoint is the exact opposite position of Mr. Schneider's. I submit that the taste importance ratio of a hot dog is 80:20 processed meat emulsion to bread.
While I know Mr. Schneider will just accuse me of being corrupt, the evidence supporting my position is, frankly (guffaw), overwhelming. In fact, I was willing to go face to face with Big Weiner - and who has the guts to do that?
The bun is the comparatively tasteless delivery vehicle that transports its more flavorful passenger to one's mouth without getting one's hands full of mustard and ketchup. (The "meat between bread" food delivery method was of course invented by John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. Coincidentally, one of John Montagu's contemporaries, Albert Autumnbottom, 3rd Earl of Doritos, brought us the nacho cheese-flavored snack that so perfectly accompanies a sandwich.)
In a pinch, any old folded piece of bread can substitute for a bun. When eating a hot dog, can you tell the difference between a Brownberry hot dog bun and a Gardners hot dog bun? Me neither. However, suggesting that there is no difference between a Usinger's, a Klement's or and Oscar Mayer dog is liable to incite a fistfight in some parts of the state.
Finally, when legendary competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi squared off against the bear in the ultimate contest between man and beast, buns were not even on the table.
UPDATE: As a counter-rebuttal, Dr. Shuffhausen pointed out today that I am "firmly wedged inbetween the grasp of big buns."
Also, my wife and I went to a movie last night to celebrate her birthday. As we walked into Hilldale Mall, I was explaining to her my hot dog theory (she firmly sides with Shuffhausen). We passed a woman walking with her kids who obviously overheard my explanation. As we got about 30 feet away, the woman turned and yelled "HE'S RIGHT - IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BUN!" I immediately declared victory and took a lap around University Bookstore, high-fiving the employees.
A note to that wonderful woman - Dr. Shuffhausen has vowed to track you down at your home to provide a personal rebuttal.