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Reviews for Raw Dog

by Jamie Loftus

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Answering to names such as sausage, wiener, frankfurter, kielbasa, and brat, the "American" hot dog is really an immigrant (Germany, Poland, Greece, Italy, and Austria) originating from the Paleolithic sausage. In this diary-style travelogue, Loftus (a comedian, TV writer, and host of the podcasts Ghost Church, My Year in Mensa, and Aack Cast) describes a cross-country road trip to investigate the landscape of American hot dogs and critique regional hot dog recipes, all while sharing her observations on love and happiness. Her commentary ranges from specific brands (Nathan's, Hebrew National, Oscar Mayer) to hot dog vendors (Wienerschnitzel, Auntie Anne's, Costco, Home Depot, Clowndog Hot Dog Parlor, JJ's Red Hots, the Varsity). The book also discusses COVID and its effect on the meat-packing industry, Oscar Mayer's Wienermobile, and baseball. The 12-title bibliography does not include every source that's referred to in the book (for example, Loftus refers to an online video about hot dog production but doesn't include the URL in the text or bibliography), and "Recommended Eating" lists only five hot dog businesses. Still, this is a fun nonfiction title. VERDICT Equal parts meat-processing indictment, travelogue, hot dog history, and odd facts, this book is irreverent, hilarious, entertaining, honest, and, at times, gross. Will fascinate readers interested in hot dogs, road trips, and regional recipes.—Laurie Selwyn

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A paean to the frankfurter, that most loved—and, for nutritionists and vegans, most despised—of foods. “Hot dogs are the kind of American [thing] that you know there is something deeply wrong with but still find endearing,” writes comedian and TV writer Loftus, in an oddly tangled sentence, at the beginning of her deep dive into the history of hot dogs and how they are made. “The choice not to eat meat is the correct one,” she writes, and she offers plenty of trigger warnings in the course of a narrative that takes her around the country. Loftus found one “excellent” dog at a Tucson food truck where the cognoscenti gather, the bun expertly slit at the top alone and not all the way through to let the dog rest on a pillow of white bread, “just like the experimental medical procedure my mom got done so I could be born.” Ben’s Chili Bowl, the iconic doggery in Washington, D.C., is another must-stop, while New York City gets no love: “Gray’s and Nathan’s both strike me as hot dogs that taste more like a person’s pleasant childhood memory than the best hot dog I’ve ever tasted.” When Loftus lands on a dog that is overrated or downright bad, she says so. Hollywood hipsters will lay on the hate, but her take on a certain LA go-to is just right: “One thing Pink’s Hot Dogs does not have is a decent hot dog, and that’s just the God’s honest truth.” Where to find the best dog? Tucked inside this funny, irreverent travelogue is an answer—well, maybe not the best but certainly the best deal: the $1.50 Costco dog. “Around 150 million of these little fuckers are sold every year for about 60 percent less than they should be,” she writes. A laugh a minute, barring a few graywater and slaughterhouse moments. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Comedian Loftus (writer and host of the limited-run podcasts Ghost Church and My Year in Mensa) takes listeners on a wild ride, crisscrossing the country in a hilarious and eye-opening quest to root out the essence of the American hot dog. Narrating her own book with raucous delight, Loftus describes her adventures with her cat, dog, and then-boyfriend during the summer of 2021. Throughout her journey, which sometimes required her to consume upwards of four hot dogs a day, Loftus sampled Spaghetti-O hot dogs in Albuquerque, a deep-fried bologna dog in Baltimore, and cheap but tasty dogs in Home Depot and Costco. Loftus seasons her account with social commentary, historical details, and personal reflections, including unsettling revelations about deep-seated sexism and racism at the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, horrifying descriptions of the meatpacking industry, and musings on COVID, capitalism, baseball, and more. Loftus's lively, joyful narration allows listeners to feel her outrage, curiosity, and wonder. While her raunchy humor may not suit all tastes, her enthusiastic delivery is infectious. VERDICT Loftus's dive into all things hot dog, generously spiced with trivia, cultural critique, and travel tips, is hilarious and heartening. A winner for fans of offbeat food writing, regional travelogues, and irreverent humor.—Sarah Hashimoto