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Hot Dogs Vs Hamburgers: Which Is The Better Game Day Choice?

grill cooking hamburgers and hot dogs
grill cooking hamburgers and hot dogs - Jjwithers/Getty Images

There's a declared rivalry between hot dogs and hamburgers, a competition that rears its head during fun food occasions like the Super Bowl. People tend to gravitate toward one or the other, even if both are stacked up on the snack table. Add both to your plate, and you're setting yourself up for serious game day side-eye as you chow down. Like choosing a team to root for and sticking with it through thick and thin, choosing hot dogs over hamburgers or vice versa is a must during the biggest Sunday in the sports world.

Not everyone can explain what it is about a hot dog or hamburger that makes them the better choice. We put on our thinking helmets to figure it out for ourselves before football fans fire up the grill for their pre-game hot dog and hamburger cookouts. It turns out that choosing one over the other can be a real challenge once you establish a list of pros and cons for both of these popular party foods. Gear up for a play-by-play analysis of what hot dogs and hamburgers each contribute to the occasion so you know which one you're cheering for, plus a few aspects that may convince you to root for the other side.

Read more: Sausage Brands Made With The Highest & Lowest Quality Ingredients

Hamburgers Have Better Homemade Options

homemade smash burger patties
homemade smash burger patties - stockcreations/Shutterstock

You can always pick up a package of patties at the grocer and toss them on the grill to feed your Super Bowl hunger. But if you're looking for something a bit more gourmet than just ground beef, homemade hamburgers allow you to add in just about anything you like. Add seasonings, marinades, herbs, and spices, and even stuffings like cheese and peppers for a Smashburger-style situation. It may be more work than going with pre-formed patties. But if you have the taste for something a little better than basic and the time to get your hands dirty, the world of delicious hamburger potential is yours to explore.

But have you ever tried making a gourmet hot dog at home? No. You haven't. Because that's not a thing. The best you have is pre-made hot dogs you can toss in a bun and cover in a slew of condiments and toppings. Sure, it may end up loaded to the max, but the hot dog at the center of it all is still the same run-of-the-mill hot dog everyone else in the world has access to, with cheese piped into the center, at most.

Hot Dogs Can Fit More Fixings In The Bun

loaded hot dogs
loaded hot dogs - nelea33/Shutterstock

Say you're looking for a tricked-out Super Bowl snack that lets you pile on just about as many toppings as you can think of without losing the ability to take a bite. If you stack your dream ingredients on a hamburger past the usual cheese-tomato-lettuce-onion combination — on top of a patty or two, plus top and bottom bun — you run the risk of your toppings toppling as soon as you lift it off the plate. If you're lucky enough to get a solid squeeze that compacts your creation enough to fit in your mouth, you'll probably have layers sliding out the sides before you can taste the whole stack. Provided everything stays in place, you run the risk of spraining your jaw wide enough to get it all in. What a conundrum.

Hot dogs, however, utilize the horizontal plane to allow an enormous pile-up of the most incredible hot dog add-ons you can come up with. Spread a little relish, sprinkle chopped onions, spoon on chili, make it rain shredded cheddar, layer in a few pickle slices ... the possibilities go on and on. Provided you can keep dog and bun level, you'll taste every element from the first bite to the last. Score one for hot dog geometry!

Hamburgers Have Plant-Based Possibilities

alternative hamburger on a bun
alternative hamburger on a bun - artem evdokimov/Shutterstock

Meat lovers can dive right into a Super Bowl table filled with traditional hamburgers and hot dogs without thinking twice. But for plant-based eaters, the selection of hot dogs dwindles to a scant few, all made from soy in some form. The restrictive shape and texture required to make the dogs fit the casing may be limitations that burgers don't share. You can certainly find burger patties made from soy if that's your thing. But you can also find them made from pressed grains, mashed black beans, chopped mushrooms, walnuts, lentils, and more. And if you're looking for more of a meat-style experience, Impossible and Beyond Meat make plant-based burgers that are remarkably similar to real beef. They're such convincing stand-ins for beef burgers that even meat-eaters can enjoy them.

If you're set on making homemade treats for the big game, you'll have a much easier time creating plant-forward patties than vegan dogs. The simplest form uses a can of black beans, bread crumbs, onions, and your favorite seasonings, and can be baked or heated in a skillet. There's no equivalent for hot dogs unless you consider carrot dogs a suitable party food. Clearly, burgers party harder than soy wieners and boiled carrots.

Hot Dogs Are Easier To Fit On The Grill

hot dogs on a grill
hot dogs on a grill - Grandriver/Getty Images

The typical game day grill is a gridiron of hamburgers and hot dogs, all vying for space over the dancing flames. When prepared properly, better hamburgers take up more grill space due to their expansive shape and mega-sized portions. They can monopolize a cookout like nobody's business, relegating hot dogs to the second rack, where they may get heat, but they don't get char. This sort of crowding is an unfortunate reality when mixing meats for the big event. But when you stick with hot dogs only for your tailgating treats? Well, you can fit so many franks on your grill, that you might as well invite the whole neighborhood to join in on the festivities. Their linear shape and compact size make them perfect for arranging like first-string players protecting their quarterback. They're also accommodating enough to fit horizontally or vertically, or a blend of both if necessary.

This sort of flexibility makes them easier to cook than burgers, too. Do you want to turn them sideways to get those cool diagonal grill marks? Sweet — just give them all a little twist. Hamburgers have to be scooped up on a spatula and moved awkwardly to get their crisscross tattoos. Do you need to heat up the other side? Awesome — give each one a little roll with the edge of your spatula. Burgers need a full-fledged flip to see that sort of grilling action. You see where this is going.

Hamburgers Offer Premium Ingredients

stack of hamburger patties
stack of hamburger patties - Wmaster890/Getty Images

Are you even aware of the number of different gourmet ingredients you can use to make top-notch hamburgers? In the beef family alone, you can go with lean or stick with a higher fat content, choose ground round, chuck, or brisket for a richer flavor, or break the bank and cook up Wagyu or Kobe patties for your most bougie Super Bowl needs. Burgers are versatile to come in the form of chicken, turkey, and even bison meat. Some of these prime picks are available as formed patties if you know where to shop, but you can also find supreme ground beef at the grocery store to make your own if that's what it takes. And if you go big with the beef, you're going to want to go with brioche rolls rather than using the bargain bagged buns. And of course, you'll need aioli instead of mayonnaise and brie instead of cheddar. Let's not even start on the greens.

As for hot dogs, well ... hopefully you like indiscriminate meat for your franks. Even if you go with Hebrew National All-Beef, you're just getting ground beef and flavorings. There are no Kobe hot dogs or Wagyu frankfurters waiting in the Whole Foods refrigerated section to tempt your taste buds during the half-time show. You could always opt for sausages, but those don't qualify as hot dogs, so that would be cheating (for the purposes of this comparison, at least).

Hot Dogs Can Be Cooked In A Number Of Ways

hot dogs in skillet
hot dogs in skillet - Francisco Zeledon/Shutterstock

Not looking forward to firing up the grill to get your burgers flame-broiled, and cooking them in a skillet isn't exactly a great second option? Good luck, then. You could put them on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven ... but that just seems weird. Hot dogs, however, are open to just about any cooking method you throw at them. Wrap them in a damp paper towel and nuke them in the microwave, toss them in a pot of boiling water, steam them in a slow cooker, sizzle them up in a cast-iron skillet — or, yes, throw them on the BBQ and let the open flames work their magic. Their pre-cooked nature means that all you're doing in most cases is heating them up, though you should always check the package for heating instructions and desired serving temperature.

In contrast to the easy-going hot dog: Have you ever tried to cook a burger patty in the microwave? Do you remember how weird and rubbery it got, even with a cup of water included in the oven to add steam? Yeah. That's no way to celebrate the biggest football occasion of the season. If easy is your preferred style of cooking, hot dogs are your best friend for football party fun.

Hamburgers Can Be Excessively Greasy

burger patties on grill
burger patties on grill - BKingFoto/Shutterstock

Depending on the quality of beef or patties you opt for to get the tailgating going, your hamburgers could end up being the greasiest dish in your Super Bowl spread. The best-tasting burgers are notoriously greasy due to the high-fat content that imparts the phenomenal flavor. There's a balancing point where much of the fat melts and falls through the grating of the grill, but there's usually a fair amount that pools on top and mingles with juices released by the heat. It's not only less than healthy to consume, but it's also messy and unpleasant if not sopped up or shaken off before serving. Unless you intend on charring your patties until they're hockey pucks instead of football food, some degree of greasiness is a necessary evil in the burger world.

While hot dogs aren't exactly grease-free foods, there's far less fat dripping from a cooked frank than a finished burger. And since dogs are pretty rubbery by nature, it's not a surprise to find a less-than-juicy hot dog resting in the bun. A little ketchup and mustard will forgive the lack of moisture. But a burger that isn't juicy is a fumble you may not want to risk.

Hot Dogs Have Their Own Eating Contests

stack of contest hot dogs
stack of contest hot dogs - Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Have you ever heard of the hamburger eating contest that happens every Fourth of July to celebrate Independence Day? Most likely, you haven't. But you probably have heard of the international hot dog eating contest put on by hot dog purveyor Nathan's, held annually in Coney Island at the original Nathan's restaurant. According to Nathan's lore, the contest began in 1916 among a handful of European immigrants. Now, tens of thousands of fans gather to watch as competitive eaters like Miki Sudo and Joey Chestnut down as many bunned hot dogs as possible in 10 minutes of fraught competition. In past competitions, Sudo has eaten as many as 48.5 dogs to claim the women's title, while Chestnut has eaten up to 76 dogs to win the men's championship. You can probably feel your stomach churning as you read that number, imagining how it feels to have so many hot dogs in your digestive tract at one time.

As for the hamburger eating contest, ZBurger in Wisconsin holds a competition on Independence Day as well. But you may be learning that for the first time reading this article. The fact that Nathan's is so well-known means the distinction for better competitive food eating is no contest. The point goes to hot dogs.

Hamburgers Can Be Fussy To Prepare

flame broiled burgers
flame broiled burgers - Ellenmoran/Getty Images

Hot dogs are as laid back as a Sunday afternoon before kick-off, ready to jump into the fray and be bun-prepped in minutes. Throw them on the grill or the griddle five minutes prior to the game and you'll be enjoying your first bite by the coin toss. Hamburgers are a bit touchier when it comes to cooking them properly. It isn't that they require nursing, necessarily. But the balance of food safety and desired doneness takes more attention than the no-fuss-no-muss hot dog prep. If you're looking for a patty that's smoky and a bit charred on the outside but tender and juicy on the inside, you have to be a mind reader to know when it's absolutely ready (or use a meat thermometer). Every guest you serve is bound to have a different take on the perfect burger, which means you need zones on your grill for rare, done, and well-done to make sure everyone gets what they're hoping for. And you have to monitor each of those regions individually, yet simultaneously. Meanwhile, you could be missing crucial plays and hilarious Super Bowl ads. Ugh!

For tailgating cooks who favor ease over precision, hot dogs will always have the homefield advantage. Unless you forget about your dogs and let them turn to charcoal, you'll have fast food done home-style without a single complaint from the crowd.

Hot Dogs Have A Bad Reputation

links of hot dogs
links of hot dogs - Brusonja/Getty Images

There's a reason you find hamburgers as part of the menus in high-end restaurants: They're a familiar form of beef that can be fancied up for the more discerning dining crowd. But hot dogs can't, and it isn't just the weird texture that keeps it from happening. The facts about hot dogs have always made store-bought frankfurters out to be a little dodgy, made from scraps and spare parts left over in the butcher shop. When better ingredients are used, the humble hot dog becomes a sausage, which gives the dog a bit of a posh polish-up. But hot dogs themselves are notoriously unhealthy food, even when made from all beef like Hebrew National, due to the nitrates used to cure the franks. While you can find uncured hot dogs that bypass the use of these troublesome chemicals, they may not be readily available for the big game.

Thanks to the varied use of different qualities and consistencies of beef, hamburgers are far less shifty, making them a more straightforward option than dogs ever will be. It's just the nature of the beast — and how the beast is turned into game day vittles.

Hamburgers Make Great Leftovers

cheeseburger with fries
cheeseburger with fries - Da-kuk/Getty Images

Even if you have leftover hamburger patties when your Super Bowl party ends, you don't have to eat them in burger form. Unless you want to, of course. But if you have weeknight dinners to consider for a hungry family, your finished patties will work in just about any other ground beef-oriented dish you can come up with. Whether you crumble them up and add them to a jar of Ragu for a meaty spaghetti sauce or slice them into strips for burger burritos, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

To keep from overcooking your patties while transforming them into something new, be sure to cook your other elements before adding the burgers. This will allow all of your ingredients to come to the proper heat while the burger gets enough of a warm-up to be edible again. There's really no wrong way to eat a burger, even when it's no longer in burger form. Leftover hot dogs, though? Even if you slice them up into little pieces and sprinkle them throughout your dinner line-up, they'll either stay hot dogs, become beans and weenies, or turn into mac and cheese mix-ins. What a shame.

Hot Dogs Can Become A Variety Of Fun Foods

corn dogs with mustard and ketchup
corn dogs with mustard and ketchup - JeniFoto/Shutterstock

Hamburgers stacked in twos or threes are fun and all, but have you ever had a corn dog rolled in Flamin' Hot Cheetos? How about pigs in a blanket, with that flaky croissant crust standing in for a standard bun? From chopped up and tossed about in baked beans to marinated in spicy jelly, hot dogs aren't shy about trying on different uniforms and playing for new teams in the food world. If you're ambitious enough, you can make them look like an octopus or run them through with uncooked spaghetti before steaming them into an alien lifeform that's both entertaining and delicious. They're the main dish that never quits, even when they get pushed to the game day side selections section.

Hamburgers can take the form of ... hamburgers. Or sliders, which are just miniaturized hamburgers. They're cute for sure, but they're still just burgers, and that's all. If you like pushing the envelope with your game day goodies and you have a culinary creative streak that just won't quit, hot dogs are the more willing partner, by far.

Winner: Hamburgers Score More Points When It Comes To Super Bowl Snacking

tray of cheeseburgers
tray of cheeseburgers - Mixetto/Getty Images

There's no question that the versatility and quality of hamburgers make them the all-out winner in the game day cookout scrimmage. You can shop for a variety of patties or press them yourself to control size, flavor, and additional ingredients. Served on a plain ol' bun or dressed to the nines in an onion or challah roll, topped with the usual ketchup and mustard or a balsamic reduction and baby radicchio, burgers give you more flexibility than hot dogs when it comes to customizing your feast for your particular crowd. Even if it's just you watching on your own, a burger can serve as a multi-course meal if you get inventive enough with it.

There's no reason to kick hot dogs out of the party entirely, though. They're likely to please your younger guests, and they're inexpensive space fillers that can make your Super Bowl budget go much further than trying to double up on more expensive burgers. Just know that if you're cooking to impress and satisfy, burgers have the game all sewn up.

Read the original article on Mashed.