How to Properly Eat a Chili Dog

How to Properly Eat a Chili Dog

From the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council

Make a mess whenever you eat a chili dog? The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council and Washington D.C. landmark Ben's Chili Bowl teamed up to help you avoid sauce slippage. George Washington University professor and Ben's historian Bernard Demczuk, Ph.D. explains his finely honed method


This guide was adapted from Bernie’s Dog Bite Method, a brochure developed by Dr. Demczuk. The key steps are:

Step 1:

Positioning. No matter how it is placed in front of you , adjust your chili dog in a way that best suits your grip and lift. Move your drink and other condiments out of the way to avoid distraction

Step 2:

The Grip. This is the most important part. Your grip must be slight but firm. Grip only with your thumb, index and middle finger so the last two fingers can help you balance. If you grip too tight, you’ll send the chili spilling out so be careful. If your initial grip doesn’t work, put it down and try again. And remember…two hands are ok!

Step 3:

The Lift. Your mantra-L is for level, L is for lifting. Embrace balance…the yin and yang of the hot dog if you will. Keep the dog level as you lift to your mouth. If there’s more chili on one side of the dog or another, adjust the angle to avoid spillage. It is also important to pay attention to sauce slippage as the hot dog goes into your mouth. This will take practice

Step 4:

The Entry. Just like the space shuttle entering the earth’s atmosphere, this is the most important part of your chili dog mission. First open your mouth wide enough so the bun or chili do not bump into your teeth lips or tongue. Second, angle the dog so you get the best and cleanest bite. The angle will be between 45-80 degrees depending on the shape of your mouth

Step 5:

The Bite. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, dreaming of since you first ordered your chili dog. Your challenge is to bit just the right spot so the juices of the hot dog explode into your mouth with ecstacy. If the hot dog’s resistance is more than you expect, adjust the dog relative to your best biting teeth.

Step 6:

Repeat! While mastering the perfect chili dog technique takes practice, you’re in luck…you can always order another one…or just come back tomorrow!

Remember two other rules as well…no utensils & lick those fingers! Chili dogs are meant to be eaten with your hands!

Looking for more tips? Check out our full guide to Hot Dog Etiquette