Do you know the Maurice Sendak story about loving something so much you eat it? (Please look it up, I will not do him justice.) I thought of this story a lot while reading Raw Dog — both because I loved it SO MUCH, and because Jamie Loftus approaches everything with the abundant, honest, chaotic (complimentary!!) energy of loving something so much you have to make it a part of yourself. This book is decidedly about hot dogs (their cultural impact, how the sausage is made, how the myth of the sausage is made [and who it serves], so many disgusting but also mouth-watering descriptions of so many hot dogs and regional specialties), but it's also about the context of hot dogs — road trips and relationships, labor and pandemics, specific strains of hot dog enthusiasm (competitive eaters! Wienermobile drivers!), and unhinged branding decisions for gendered pickled foods. I cannot recommend it enough!! Recommended By Michelle C., Powells.com
"The Jamie Loftus Hot Dog Book," as my coworker and I have taken to calling it so we don't get fired, is exactly the kind of deep dive microhistory I live for. Loftus invites her reader along on a cross-country culinary road trip, during which she consumes an absolutely horrific amount of encased meat while exploring the history, politics, production (heed the content warnings here), regional varieties, and culture of hot dogs. Learn about competitive eating, Wienermobile drivers, and the mystifying phenomenon that is gender pickles. Discover even more reasons to rage about capitalism. Find out which Portland, Oregon hot dog made Jamie's Top 5! This smart, funny, gross, and exceedingly thorough book is a wiener winner. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Part travelogue, part culinary history, all capitalist critique — comedian Jamie Loftus's debut, Raw Dog, will take you on a cross-country road trip in the summer of 2021, and reveal what the creation, culture, and class influence of hot dogs says about America now.
Hot dogs. Poor people created them. Rich people found a way to charge fifteen dollars for them. They're high culture, they're low culture, they're sports food, they're kids' food, they're hangover food, and they're deeply American, despite having no basis whatsoever in America's Indigenous traditions. You can love them, you can hate them, but you can't avoid the great American hot dog.
Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs is part investigation into the cultural and culinary significance of hot dogs and part travelog documenting a cross-country road trip researching them as they're served today. From avocado and spice in the West to ass-shattering chili in the East to an entire salad on a slice of meat in Chicago, Loftus, her pets, and her ex eat their way across the country during the strange summer of 2021. It's a brief window into the year between waves of a plague that the American government has the resources to temper, but not the interest.
So grab a dog, lay out your picnic blanket, and dig into the delicious and inevitable product of centuries of violence, poverty, and ambition, now rolling around at your local 7-Eleven.
The hardcover edition of Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs includes gorgeous endpapers as well as illustrations by the author throughout.
"Thrilling, irreverent, and invigorating...Loftus writes with the laugh-a-minute cadence of a Fey, the twisting, somersaulting vitality of a young Eggers." Jack O'Brien, Founder, Cracked.com and Head of Comedy, iHeartPodcast Network
"Jamie deftly interweaves the absurdity of the ubiquitous hot dog with the chaos of an American culture trying to suss out its post(?)-pandemic identity. Her eye for detail, sly wit, and whip-smart way with words makes her one of the freshest and most insightful new comedic voices of this decade." Lindsay Ellis, New York Times best selling author of Axiom's End
About the Author
Jamie Loftus is a comedian, Emmy-nominated TV writer, and podcaster. She's worked as a staff writer on Teenage Euthanasia, Robot Chicken, and Star Trek: Lower Decks, and wrote and starred in her own web series for Comedy Central. She writes and hosts popular limited-run podcasts — "My Year In Mensa" (2019), "Lolita Podcast" (2020), "Aack Cast" (2021), and "Ghost Church" (2022) — and cohosts, with screenwriter Caitlin Durante, a podcast on the How Stuff Works Network called "the Bechdel Cast." She has her baby teeth bronzed and loaded into a slingshot.