This week, we’ve celebrated the hot dog for its democratic appeal, and its unique ability to transcend class lines with its simple pleasures. But let’s be honest: The hot dog wouldn’t be properly American if someone hadn’t tried to make a ridiculously expensive version of it.
While hot dogs haven’t been fancified to the degree of burgers, which are routinely stuffed with wagyu or topped with lobes of foie gras these days, there are certainly haute dogs—like chefs Daniel Boulud’s lineup at Épicerie Boulud—that tip the price point past $10.
But what we’re talking about here isn’t the price creep on the humble tubesteak, but rather the stunt-oriented arms race to set the Guinness World Record for most expensive hot dog. The fact that many of the recent entrants to the list were unveiled during a an economic downturn tells you a lot of the psychology of the Outrageously Expensive Hot Dog—while selling some caviar- and truffle-laced tubesteaks to the uber-rich is certainly a plus, the reason restaurateurs create these monstrosities is as a PR stunt.
The priciest-frank record was broken as recently as last summer. What do you think the summer of 2013 has in store for the hot dog history books?
Click through the gallery above to see America’s most expensive hot dogs.