Hot dog season is upon us, Fourth of July and those scorching summer months when Americans coast to coast will fire up their grills and cook those iconic tubes of meat-like-substance to perfection before slipping them between two sides of a bun and dressing them up just the way we like them. And we do like them. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans will eat about seven billion hot dogs—that’s 21 hot dogs per American.
Tasty though they are, the hot dog is a strange food. Anyone unfamiliar with what a hot dog is might not even recognize it as food—the gelatinous flesh stick, one identical to the next, barely resembles its more noble ancestor, the sausage. Containing at least 54.5 percent meat by law, the hot dog is damn near as processed as your smartphone.
Most hot dogs contain nothing more than slightly-more-than-half beef, pork or poultry, plus other ingredients like water, added fat, dry milk, cereal, and the preservative sodium nitrite. Some, however, have contained ingredients much more stomach-turning than those. To learn more, in 2015 TIME submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking for records of foreign objects consumers have reported finding in their hot dogs.
These are some of the grossest items on the list.
1. “two hairs… one was short, black and could have been facial hair. The second hair was thinner and was actually sticking out of the hot dog.”
2. “glass and potential mercury”
3. “a metal staple”
4. “a piece of bone, hard, jagged”
5. “glass shards”
6. “the tip of a razor blade”
7. “a clump of hair or something ratlike”
8. “A large silverfish”
9. “a needle resembling an injection needle”
10. “a clump of hair (looks like eyelashes)”
11. “a dime”
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