There are countless ways to make a hot dog — apparently, that includes franks that are formed in a flat, round shape.
Recently, “round hot dogs” from meat delivery service Rastelli’s, went viral on social media, leaving numerous Twitter users confused. Unlike traditional hot dogs, Rastelli’s round hot dogs are flat, round and fit better on a hamburger bun than a traditional hot dog bun.
Many people on social media pointed out that the food innovation is similar to something that already exists: bologna.
That sentiment was confirmed by National Hot Dog & Sausage Council President Eric Mittenthal.
“The hot dog patties are a wonderful sales creation,” Mittenthal told Fox News. “It’s great that someone has developed a marketing tool for another way to enjoy hot dogs. But the flat hot dogs are also known as bologna.”
“Bologna is essentially a very large hot dog that is sliced into slices,” he added. “And so, you know, what is being shared is basically bologna. And there’s a lot of different styles of bologna, but one of the styles is a large hot dog that’s sliced into slices.”
However, Rastelli’s told Fox News in a statement that its creation does have some significant differences to traditional bologna, specifically in how the product is made.
According to the statement, Rastelli’s uses Black Angus Beef and Premium Pork, chopped together — not fully emulsified or liquified “like some traditional bologna” — and wrapped in a collagen casing and netting “to help hold shape,” the statement said.
“The product is then smoked (similar to an old world-style hot dog) with a proprietary blend of woods such as chicory, and later finished in the oven,” Rastelli’s explained. “Before slicing into rounds, we remove the casing.”
The company explained that it decided to develop round hot dogs in answer to requests from customers who asked for pre-sliced hot dogs.
“Like many people, our customers were accustomed to slicing their hot dog down the middle before grilling to increase surface area for caramelization and flavor – so when the really busy moms and dads asked if we had any pre-sliced hot dogs, we started thinking,” Rastelli’s said.
The company also considered concerns about young children possibly choking on traditional hot dog casings, as well as the problem of condiments “always falling off the hot dog when you take a bite,” according to the statement.
“So, together with our R&D [research and development] team, we set out to improve the hot dog,” Rastelli’s told Fox. “Flat for more surface area, easier condiment-holding ability, and no casing. And now we only have to buy one type of bun when we bbq.”
Though Rastelli’s is getting attention for its recent innovation, it isn’t the first company to develop a sandwich-style hot dog.
In 2013, Connecticut newspaper Journal Inquirer published a story about siblings in Manchester, Connecticut, who developed a similar kind of hot dog called Flatdogs — also to prevent children from choking.