TIME Food & Drink

Meet the Man Behind Hot Dog University

Mark Reitman

A frank conversation with a professor at "the nation's college of encased meat knowledge." Mark Reitman is neutral about ketchup but doggedly opposed to the meatless and veggie impostors

In honor of National Hot Dog Day on July 23 and National Hot Dog Month, TIME talked to the man behind Hot Dog University, also known as “the nation’s college of encased meat knowledge.”

On Mondays and Tuesdays at Vienna Beef’s Chicago factory, Mark Reitman, 66, who has been called a Ph.D — “Professor of Hot Dogs” — teaches a $699 two-day course about the business of operating a hot dog stand — or as he calls it, “the art of the cart.”

Reitman has been serving hot dogs since he was eight years old and even did it part-time when he worked as an appliance salesman and taught middle school and high school before opening his own stand in 2003. After working at events in Wisconsin, he started Hog Dog University in 2006 and partnered with Vienna Beef in 2009. Now there are satellite campuses in Vernon, California, and Scottsdale, Arizona. Reitman says over 800 students have taken the class — 300 have opened restaurants nationwide and 500 have set up hot dog carts.

“When I first started this, my friends thought I was doing swan dives into empty pools, or they thought I had lobsters growing out of my ears,” he says. “But guess what? The joke’s on them!”

What’s the trick to cooking a hot dog properly?

Just put a pot of water on a stove, get it up to 165 degrees and drop the dog in there for 6-8 minutes. Simmer it, don’t boil it because that will cause it to split at the ends or crack, and you’ll bleed out the spices.

You can chargrill a dog, but don’t just throw the dog on there. You take it, score the dog, crosscut the ends, and they will begin to open up. Same goes for putting a hot dog on a stick and cooking it over a campfire. They’ll taste so much better than sticking them right into the fire, where they start getting large and explode.

Is there a right way to put on the toppings?

When you put the condiments on a hot dog, you never put them on the bun. And there is an order. A Chicago-style dog has seven condiments, starting with a thin line of mustard on top, then green relish, then diced onions. On one side of a poppyseed bun, you put two thinly-sliced tomato wedges, and on the other side, you put two sport peppers. Then throw on a cold pickle spear in the middle and a dash of celery salt.

New York-style uses a red onion sauce and sauerkraut, and for Carolina-style, run line of mustard on it, cover it with chili, throw on some chopped onions and finely shredded cheddar cheese or coleslaw. Those are the three main style dogs.

As you go further West, like in Seattle, they’ll dress their dog with cream cheese and put grilled onions on it.

How do you feel about ketchup on a hot dog?

I don’t become politically involved with the use of ketchup. It doesn’t belong on a Chicago-style hot dog because the tomatoes and relish already provide that sweetness. But if customers want ketchup on a hot dog, they can have it on a hot dog. That’s my philosophy on ketchup.

What do you think of veggie and meatless dogs?

I’m not a fan of them. Hot dogs are not health food, they’re comfort food. People have wanted me to cater parties with veggie dogs, and I don’t want to do it because I don’t want to develop a reputation for being the caterer of veggie dogs, okay? I do hot dogs that are all-beef. I’ve never had a veggie dog. And I won’t.

What do you think of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest and competitive hot dog eating in general?

It’s a popularity contest. Hot dogs taste so good when you have them in the right bun, downing them is something I could never do. But I don’t have any objection to it.

When did you serve your first hot dog?

In 1955 when I was eight years old. My father owned a soda fountain, and I would go in on Saturdays and Sundays and serve people ice cream and milkshakes. One Saturday when I went to work, he had a [new] machine, a big glass case with a wire rack in it. I cooked the hot dog, put it on the plate and gave out ketchup and mustard packets.

What’s the future of hot dog stands?

We lead our students to become private caterers with these little hot dog carts so they can do corporate and private parties where there’s a referral system that comes off of it. Right now with what’s going on with the economy, I really think [running a hot dog stand] is going to be an alternative for people who have lost their jobs or who want to do something for additional income.

What tips do you give your students for selling hot dogs?

I’ll have my students grill onions because the smell, when we get that wafting into the air, oh my God, it just brings people from blocks away to come and buy stuff. Even if we don’t put the onions on the hot dogs, we do that whenever it gets slow to attract customers to the cart.

I also train my students to make fresh-squeezed lemonade and sell ice cream. On a day when it’s 100 degrees, people may not want to eat hot food, but they’ll buy a fresh-squeezed lemonade or an ice cream. That way, you can still make a living selling lemonade and ice cream.

One Halloween, my wife and I decided to hand out candy to kids. So every time a family came, we’d give bubble gum to the kids, and the parents would say, “What about me?” Basically hot dogs are kid food. You never grow up when you have a hot dog.

TIME NextDraft

The Argument Against Ivy League Schools and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 22, 2014

nextdraft_newsfeed_v2

1. Ivy Fatigue

In the New Republic William Deresiewicz, author and former Yale professor, argues against sending your kids to Ivy League schools. “Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.” I don’t know. I think most of these kids know they’re doing it for the IPO.

2. Complications

Within the space of two hours, two federal appeals courts issued two contradictory rulings on the health care insurance subsidies associated with (and necessary to) the Affordable Care Act.

3. No Fly Zone

Following a missile strike in the area surrounding Israel’s only international airport, the FAA followed the lead of several international airlines and prohibited all flights to Israel for 24 hours. From Jeffrey Goldberg: “The FAA may wind up having more influence over the course of the Gaza war than the State Department.”

+ As international efforts towards a ceasefire continue, Hamas claims to have captured an Israeli soldier.

+ “More than 500 Palestinians and at least 18 Israelis have been sacrificed on the altar of this deluded strategy. When we eventually emerge from the chaos, no one will be safer. And many of the wounds created can possibly never heal.” Claire Hajaj: My Jewish mother, my Palestinian father and a family torn apart.

4. Being There

As if we needed another reminder that location is everything, and that living in a society under siege can damage people in multiple ways, there’s this: 11 of the parents of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls have died since their kidnapping. Seven by violence. Four from heart failure, high blood pressure and other stress-related illnesses.

5. A Little Help From My Friends

“If we expect a genius to be somehow fundamentally different from the rest of humanity, studying Einstein’s life and opinions will disappoint.” Aeon’s Matthew Francis takes on the notion of cognitive celebrity. “Albert Einstein was a genius, but he wasn’t the only one — why has his name come to mean something superhuman?”

+ “The lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness. Fortunately, a more truthful model is emerging: the creative network, as with the crowd-sourced Wikipedia or the writer’s room at The Daily Show or — the real heart of creativity — the intimate exchange of the creative pair, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney.” the NYT’s Joshua Wolf Shenk on the end of genius. (I think my body of solo-work suggests I was way ahead of the curve on this one…)

6. Corrections Academy

“Despite the inadvertent hilarity, the real marvel of our mobile text-correction systems is how astoundingly good they are. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to call autocorrect the overlooked underwriter of our era of mobile prolixity.” (More importantly, it has given wildly unfunny people a small chance of being inadvertently funny on occasion.) From Wired: The fascinating history of autocorrect.

7. Sleep Apathy

Researchers are staying up all night to prove just how many hours of sleep is ideal. The latest volley in the sleep wars suggests that seven hours is perfect, and the much-hyped eight hours could actually be dangerous. Wake me when it’s over.

+ Wired: Why does sleeping in just make me more tired?

8. Welcome to Landlordia

The guest checked in but he didn’t check out. And now the person who rented out the condo has learned a key lesson of the era: We’re all landlords now.

9. Peaking Early

“Everyone’s favorite seasons of shows are seasons two and three, because you’ve had a year to get to know them, and then you’re still in the honeymoon period where you go, ‘This is great!’” The Atantic tries to answer that age-old question: Why do so many TV shows peak in season three?

+ Netflix now has a ton of content and more than 50 million subscribers. Of course Netflix has 50 million subscribers. Where else can you get a babysitter for $8.99 a month?

+ Classism, sexism, anti-environmentalism bordering on racism, and more.
Tracy Van Slyke with a few thoughts on Thomas the Tank Engine. And don’t even get her started on Barney…

10. The Bottom of the News

New Yorkers are wondering who put the two white flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge. (You didn’t expect the hipsters to stand and fight, did you?)

+ The Cornish beaches where Lego keeps washing up.

+ Chipotle is now a $20 billion company and analysts say there’s still plenty of room to grow. (Sure, they could start selling real burritos…)

+ Derek Jeter by the numbers. It’s good to be the Captain.

+ And how about a little love for the Internet’s least viral videos.

nextdraft

TIME celebrity

From Kim’s Butt to Angelina’s Lips: The Plastic Surgery Procedures Women Want

Valentino : Front Row  - Paris Fashion Week : Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015
Jacopo Raule—WireImage/Getty Images

According to data from a popular online cosmetic surgery community

Remember the woman who spent $30,000 to look like Kim Kardashian? Well, she’s certainly not the only person who has spent serious time and money t0 look like a celebrity — and Kim in particular. In fact, for women seeking cosmetic surgery, Kim’s butt is the most requested celebrity feature, according to data from RealSelf.com, an online community where users come together to discuss plastic surgery procedures.

To determine which celebrity features are most popular, RealSelf scanned all its content pages to see which names users are mentioning the most when inquiring about procedures. So in other words, this data is more anecdotal than scientific, says Alicia Nakamoto, vice president of community at RealSelf.

To get a derrière like Kim’s, most women opt for the the Brazilian Butt Lift, which is a procedure that takes fat from one part of the body (like the abdomen, thighs or arms) and transfers it to the buttocks. The average cost is $6,725.

After Kim, here are the other most popular celebrity mentions of 2014, along with the corresponding body part or procedure:

  • Beyoncé – butt
  • Madonna – face and hands (anti-aging)
  • Angelina Jolie – cheeks, lips
  • Rihanna – skin lightening
  • Jennifer Lawrence – nose
  • Jennifer Lopez – butt
  • Kate Middleton – nose, smile
  • Julia Roberts – lips, smile

Every once in a while, a key moment in pop culture will cause a spike in celebrity requests. When Maleficent hit theaters, for example, more women began inquiring about Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones. When Snooki was popular (remember those days?) and got some work done to her teeth, people began asking about getting theirs as white as hers. And when Krista from The Bachelorette underwent a post-natal “mommy makover,” a surge of women began expressing interest in the procedure as well.

But for the most part, the majority of people discussing plastic surgery on RealSelf don’t reference specific famous people at all.

“Ninety-nine percent of the people do not want to look like a celebrity,” Nakamoto says. “They just want to fix something very personal and go on with their lives feeling more confident with themselves.”

TIME animals

This Website Knows Where Your Cat Lives

I Know Where Your Cat Lives
Getty Images

Purrfect for the Internet's cat lovers

Attention all 4.9 million users of the #Catstagram hashtag: You’re being watched. Same for the #RichCatsOfInstagram pictures and the 16 million photos tagged simply #Cats on Instagram.

Mashable points out that a new data visualization project called “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” is trolling the internet and collecting metadata in your #adorable #cat #picture. Using the geotags embedded in the metadata in public photos, the project collects the information and puts the cat’s location on a map perfect for cyberstalking your fuzzy feline friend. Thank goodness cats don’t read Orwell.

The site features cats from everywhere around the globe — a giant red tom in Chiba, Japan to a grey fuzzball kitten in Apulia, Italy to a kitten cuddled with his mom in Queensland, Australia — all available for gawking at and cooing over at the click of a button.

The project was created by Florida State University art professor Owen Mundy, who views “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” as both a thought-provoking experiment into how we view online privacy, as well as a sort of Tinder for cat fans filled with a seemingly endless stream of kitten pics for the millions of cat fans who populate the Internet.

The site is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund web hosting and continuing the project.

MORE: The Hottest New Exercise Equipment Is a Giant Hamster Wheel…for Cats

MORE: There’s Now Facial Recognition Software for Cats

TIME nation

First Recreational Marijuana Legally Sold in Seattle Donated to Museum

In this July 8, 2014, file photo, Deb Greene, 65, Cannabis City's first customer, displays her purchase of legal recreational marijuana at the store in Seattle. Elaine Thompson – AP

A marijuana milestone saved for posterity

The first marijuana sold for recreational purposes in Seattle is being donated to the city’s Museum of History and Industry, the Associated Press reports.

Deb Greene, a 65-year old grandmother, purchased it at the store Cannabis City on July 8, when the state’s first legal, recreational marijuana stores opened. The retiree brought “a chair, sleeping bag, food, water and a 930-page book” so she could camp out overnight and be the first in line, the AP reported at the time.

She purchased two bags of legal weed, one for personal use and another that was signed by Cannabis City owner, James Lathrop, so it could be “saved forever,” Greene told the Seattle Times. “You don’t use history.”

As Greene told the Puget Sound Business Journal, “I wanted to be a part of this, this is part of the history of our city.”

MORE: The Rules About Pot Just Changed in Washington D.C.

MORE: House Votes to Help Pot Businesses Use Banks

TIME Crime

Mystery White Flags on Brooklyn Bridge Provoke Social Media Frenzy

"We will not surrender"

The New York Police Department has removed a pair of white flags that mysteriously replaced the American stars and stripes on top of the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday morning.

While the unexplained security breach is under investigation by police, the incident has incited a slew of social media confusion and some conspiracy theories.

Has Brooklyn surrendered?

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams issued a statement that no, “We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time.”

Were the flags in question actually American flags that had been whitewashed? Oren Yaniv of the Daily News said yes:

Even more suspiciously still, the police folded the flags in a ceremonial manner after taking them down:

While Adams is approaching the confusing stunt very seriously — “If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing. The public safety of our city is of paramount importance, particularly our landmarks and bridges that are already known to be high-risk targets.” — others online are taking a lighter approach.

It’s a marketing stunt for a little-remembered British singer of the 1990s:

Some thought it was a message from the borough on the other side of the bridge:

Others speculated what Brooklyn might be giving in to:

If it helps, public officials aren’t sure either. In the words of an NYPD Deputy Commission for Public Information officer to Business Insider, “We don’t know anything.”

TIME Family

Watch a Dad Comb His Daughter’s Hair Using a Vacuum Cleaner

Looks like the world’s fastest way to do a ponytail.

+ READ ARTICLE

Some dads may feel a certain disadvantage when it comes to doing their daughters’ hair. After all, they didn’t braid their own hair or put it into a ponytail when they were children, that is, unless they happened to be in a metal band.

But in this video, Rene Ortner showcases one crazy trick for making a perfect ponytail: Use a vacuum cleaner. He sweeps his daughter’s hair into the hose, then unrolls a hair-tie onto it. Voilà! Instant perfect pony.

(h/t Digg)

TIME Television

Man’s 41 Homer Simpson Tattoos Set World Record

Lee Weir's Homer sleeve Guinness World Records

"Woo hoo!" as Homer would say

Some people get drunk before they get a tattoo, but Lee Weir, a 27-year-old from New Zealand, gave up alcohol for a year while getting 41 tattoos of Homer Simpson in a sleeve on his arm—setting a Guinness World Record for the most tattoos of the same cartoon character on a single body.

The tattoo might also break a record for how many different versions of the same cartoon character it contains. Weir has Homer as a jack-in-the-box, the Grim Reaper, and a donut. There’s Homer as a baby, as an old man, and in a Hawaiian shirt.

Why Homer? Weir wasn’t allowed to watch the cartoon as a kid, but he “got into it at a later age” he told Australia’s Sunrise morning show. He considered getting tattoos of all the different Simpsons characters, but the process was too difficult. How do you choose who to include and who to leave out? Homer makes for “a great conversation starter,” he said.

TIME Internet

The Hottest New Exercise Equipment Is a Giant Hamster Wheel…for Cats

166273382
Getty Images

A Kickstarter for this project has already raised more than $120,000

If you’re hoping to help your fat cat slim down, consider getting him this feline hamster wheel. It’s still in its funding stages, but a Kickstarter campaign has already vastly exceeded its goal of $10,000.

In just a few weeks, supporters of this exercise wheel — called One Fast Cat — have pledged well over $120,000. But why a hamster wheel?

“It’s good for cats to get some sort of workout and changing it up to keep them interested is important,” creator Sean Farley wrote on the Kickstarter page. “There are many ways to keep your cat lively, giving them access to energetic companions, making a play session part of their day, and/or offering them tempting exercise equipment for use when you’re not at home…that’s why we came up with “One Fast Cat” cat wheel.”

Okay then! Here’s a look at how the contraption works:

After giving this some thought, we’re not really surprised that the campaign surpassed its funding goal. It’s 2014. If there’s wine for cats, why can’t there be a hamster wheel for cats too?

TIME

George Harrison Memorial Tree Destroyed by Beetles

Peter Carrette Archive Collection
Musician and former member of 'The Beatles' George Harrison attends a press conference to launch the new book by Derek Taylor 'Fifty Years Adrift' at the Sydney Opera House on November 30, 1984 Peter Carrette Archive—Getty Images

Much to the delight of wordplay fans

In a terrible case of irony, a tree planted in memory of Beatles guitarist George Harrison in Los Angeles has been destroyed by literal beetles.

The pine tree was planted in Griffith Park in 2004 in honor of the musician and avid gardener, who resided in LA at the end of his life.

But don’t fret. According to the LA Times, “Except for the loss of tree life, Harrison likely would have been amused at the irony. He once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles; his second biggest was getting out.”

No date has been set for the replanting of a new memorial tree.

[LA Times]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser