Walk into a bakery in this China and you’re bound to see a wall of danishes, muffins, donuts, rolls, and croissants that have hot dogs baked into them. Who would take a perfectly good pastry, stuff a hot dog in it, and wait until it gets cold to eat? The Chinese, of course. Though I believe [...]
Walk into a bakery in this China and you’re bound to see a wall of danishes, muffins, donuts, rolls, and croissants that have hot dogs baked into them. Who would take a perfectly good pastry, stuff a hot dog in it, and wait until it gets cold to eat? The Chinese, of course.
Though I believe that this is more or less a European culinary contraption, the Chinese have appropriated it with excessive gusto. Hot dog pastries are everywhere here, a true staple at any bakery.
I’ve eaten ants, crickets, grasshoppers, dogs, cats, goat testicles, blood jello, blood pudding, just about every sort of organ, maybe a rectum or two, and many other types of taboo or otherwise off-putting foods in my travels, but there was something about the hot dog pastries that made me draw the line between what goes in my mouth and what doesn’t.
It wasn’t that the idea of a hot dog encased in baked, bread-like wrappings that got to me — add a little ketchup, onions, eat while fresh, that could be good. No, it was just the fact that they looked absolutely hideous. Invariably, they are served at room temperature after sitting out on a shelf for hours (or even days). There was something about these hot dog pastries that just looked necrotic. They were old, cold, and wrinkly — adjectives perhaps better suited to describe the shelved residents of a morgue, and they looked about as tasty. The traveler’s blinking red warning light and alarm that says “do not consume” flashed in my head each time I looked upon one of these shriveled and stale culinary mutations.
While the hot dog often ends up being a part of ad hoc, we got nothing else to eat so lets take whatever we have and mix it together, wing nut food combinations, combining them with just about every type of pastry imaginable seemed overtly overzealous and intimidating. Walk into a bakery in China and you’ll see an entire section devoted just for them. They sit right next to the muffins, the sliced bread, and the danishes, and they are combined with all three. They come in all different styles, different shapes, with an incredible array of supplemental ingredients — anything from mayonnaise to cheese to imitation cream cheese to frosting to Italian spices to egg dough — spread over the top.
China is a country of hot dog eaters, but they seem to prefer them old, stale, and, often, at room temperature. The hot dog stand serving warm, fresh, and juicy red hots with ketchup, onions, and relish really doesn’t exist in the general sphere of this culture. The closest you can get is gas station hot dogs that sit in the plastic case spinning on metal rollers.
One day I proclaimed that I would never eat a hot dot pastry just as Vagabond Journeyist Steve Mendoza picked one up from the shelf of a bakery. He began munching it down and he urged me to take a bite. No way. “You have to try it, just take a bite.” He wouldn’t give up. I gave in.
“It kind of tastes like pizza,” I responded. I cannot justify this reaction, but it was the closest thing I could say to the truth without admitting defeat and saying that it was good. The shriveled old hot dog pastry was actually not as revolting to taste as it was to look at; the salty, meaty, chewy aspects of the hot dog mixed well with the fluffy, sweet, starchy aspects of the pastry.
Yet again, I faced one of the prime lessons of travel: just take a bite.
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3657 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York
February 20, 2013, 11:36 pm
We used to get those at Chinese bakeries in New York. They weren’t my favorites, but beef curry turnovers are amazing – kind of like Jamaican Beef Patties, only better.
February 21, 2013, 12:09 am
@LarryB_in_SEA Beef curry turnovers, now that sounds good.
- February 21, 2013, 12:09 am
February 21, 2013, 9:10 am
Not just in China, but also the Philippines and Thailand. I often wonder about the health safety of hot dogs left out for days…but maybe I should be concerned about the health safety of hot dogs themselves. 🙂
February 21, 2013, 8:19 pm
@Jack@GETPESOS Iif you lined up a hot dog with a row of foods that had been sitting out for a long time and I was starving, I’d probably go for the hot dog. There is so much crap in them I don’t think they ever go bad. So I think I have to go with your last point: do you really want to eat a meat that can be left sitting out for days and not spoil?
February 21, 2013, 8:21 pm
@Jack@GETPESOS Haha, right on! If you lined up a hot dog with a row of foods that had been sitting out for a long time and I was starving, I’d probably go for the hot dog. There is so much crap in them I don’t think they ever go bad 🙂 So I think I have to go with your last point: do you really want to eat a meat that can be left sitting out for days and not spoil?
- February 21, 2013, 8:19 pm
February 22, 2013, 3:57 am
There’s something disturbingly “genetal” about that last pic… Made me shiver for some reason…
February 22, 2013, 4:25 am
@DavidJacobs1 Oh man! I didn’t even notice that about that pic. Sort of makes me wish I didn’t eat it haha.
- February 22, 2013, 4:25 am
March 21, 2013, 1:50 pm
Wow, apparently Asians seems to fancy these “Western Cuisine” mutants. I mean, don’t get me wrong here, I’m Asian myself. Living in Malaysia, you get exposed to all sorts of consumables. The tasties and the nasties. Never tasted genuine Western Cuisine meself, so that probably explains why I’m completely indifferent towards hot dog mania buns. Perhaps its because a lot of the local Asians never tasted or seen real Western food, and this might be the main factor why we keep producing these “abominations” hehehe.
PS: To be honest with you, I never knew hot dog mania buns are sacrilege towards western pastries until I came upon this post D:
March 22, 2013, 9:36 pm
@North Borneo Dude This is an excellent point: what is considered American food is really multinational, fast food, That’s not American or Western cuisine, it’s international crap food. It’s interesting how you need to go behind the doors of a home to get real American cooking, as it’s extremely difficult to find in restaurants.
- March 22, 2013, 9:36 pm
April 21, 2013, 5:29 am
That’s the exact same way I feel about orange chicken… what a waste of perfectly good chicken.
These are hotdog things are good travel food, good portable meal when stuck on trains or hiking path. Basically in China, western food = sweet creamy food, if it isn’t sweet to begin with, they’ll make it sweet. Since that’s the taste that’s lacking in traditional Chinese food.
April 21, 2013, 6:11 am
Haha, yes. It’s incredibly interesting how China can take just about anything from other cultures/ countries, change it around a little, and make it their own.
- April 21, 2013, 6:11 am
June 19, 2019, 10:22 pm
Yeah but these are FRENCH-KOREAN bakeries, with western style pastries and hot dogs from French influence on Korean cuisine, brought into China. It’s the only place in China a hot dog tastes like a hot dog.( Other than a western restaurant run by foreigners.). Ever had a chinese hot dog?!?! They taste like stale fish, and are bright red inside like neon. And served on a stick, no bread. They taste NOTHING like a hot dog. So gross. But the hot dog pastries at the bakeries are awesome!! My saving grace. They were the ONLY thing I’d eat here for a while haha