A New Study Reveals What’s Actually in Hot Dogs. Hint: It’s Not Meat.

Your favorite July 4th treat is a lie.

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If you think you’re eating meat when you have a hot dog, I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve been getting played. We all have.

What’s actually in them, then? “They’re just tubes of fat,” Tyler Rouse, a pathologist at the Stratford General Hospital in Ontario, Canada, explained to Scientific American.

Rouse got curious as to what exactly where in dogless hot dogs a couple years ago and realized that he had the ability to figure it out. “We work in a lab, we make slides all day. Hot dogs are kind of the perfect shape to make into a slide. We can actually answer this question.” He recounted how he figured it out to the publication.

So he and his colleague Jordan Radigan got their hands on three types of dogs: a no-name brand from the supermarket, another all-beef dog and a third from a ballpark vendor. They then took cross sections for slides and used stains to identify different types of tissue. And found, to their surprise, that most slices consisted primarily of fat globules, with very little skeletal muscle—the stuff we tend to think of as “meat.”  The researchers also found bits of bone and blood vessels and cartilage—even plant material. 

How did the plant material get in there you’re wondering? Rouse explains:

Let me put it this way. Sometimes I get biopsies from human colons and I find vegetable matter. I’ll just leave it at that.

So there’s not really meat in hot dogs. But what about the brands you buy that say “all-beef” on the outside? Well, it turns out that those are even worse:

In fact, the no-name brand actually had more skeletal muscle than the all-beef brand.

This means that the hot dog is a lie within a lie within a lie. There’s no hot canine, the type of meat advertised isn’t present, and even the promise we’re left with, of just any type of meat, isn’t true.

If anything, this all makes hot dogs an even more fitting way to mark a holiday to celebrate a country with a history wrapped in misrepresentations and misdirections. 

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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