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Reviewed by:
  • Hot Diggity Dog: The History of the Hot Dog
  • Deborah Stevenson
Sylver, Adrienne . Hot Diggity Dog: The History of the Hot Dog; illus. by Elwood H. Smith. Dutton, 2010 32p ISBN 978-0-525-47897-3$16.99 Ad Gr. 3-6

In a dog-eat-dog world, the hot dog is probably the most eaten dog of all, and Sylver offers a factual overview of the tube steak that has become a staple American food. The book covers the wiener's roots in sausage, a foodstuff that traces back to Roman times, and then discusses its arrival as a popular street food in the nineteenth century and its subsequent rise in popularity. Notwithstanding the subtitle, the book also describes hot-dog making, hot-dog fixin's, extreme hot-dog eating contests, and a panoply of other information. The result is a lightweight concoction with a lot of filler and little nutritional value—there are errors (the capital of Austria after which the dog gets one of its many names is Wien, not Wein), unsubstantiated rumor or lore (some nameless man somewhere in nineteenth-century New York is credited as creating the hot dog as we know it), and diversions into non-dog topics (is it really relevant what foods Elizabethan theater audiences threw at the stage?). However, it's also a snackable subject in a browsable layout, with a modest couple of paragraphs on each spread complemented by nibbly factoids in sidebar balloons. Smith's usual Krazy Kat–esque cartooning gains additional absurdity from the interpolation of photocollage elements, whether in urban backgrounds or foregrounded, strangely placed hot dogs. Ultimately, the Wikipedia article on the subject is more thorough and informative, but this could sate the appetite of readers looking for some literary fast food. The book closes with a couple of recipes, some websites and books mentioned for interest, and a "bibliography" that includes books and websites.