Chicago's Hot Dog University Is Taking Applications, Just In Time For National Hot Dog Day!

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 04: General view of hotdogs as competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi challeges 2011 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition Contestants via satellite at 230 Fifth Avenue on July 4, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Source: Cindy Ord/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Here's your excitement for the day: July 23 is National Hot Dog Day, and we've got great news for burgeoning frank flippers! Have you been dreaming about opening your very own hot dog cart but aren't sure how to get started? Vienna Beef and hot dog connoisseur Mark Reitman are here to show you the ins and outs of the business with Hot Dog University, "the nation's college of encased beef knowledge."

And to think. All I have is a bachelor's degree.

The two-day course will cost you $699, and will teach you the set up an day-to-day operations of owning your own hot dog stand. Your course curriculum includes the nuts and bolts of licensing and permits you need for your own stand, hands-on experience with cart set up and vending, and a tasting panel of Vienna Beef hotdogs, which sounds like the absolute best class ever.

The Chicago-based HDU was founded by hot-dog lover Reitman in 2006, who started selling hot dogs when he was 8-years old and continued to do it as a side gig throughout his career before opening up his own stand. The Ph.D "Professor of Hot Dogs" partnered with Vienna Beef in 2009 and began offering classes on Mondays and Tuesdays out of the company's Chicago factory. The school now has satellite locations in California and Arizona. 

Over at Serious Eats, HDU graduate John Carruthers initially thought his pedigree from the university would make for an interesting line to throw out. But as he detailed his experience, it was clear that HDU isn't a novelty course. Carruthers counts himself as a happy graduate, calling Reitman the "poet laureate of cured sausages."

HDU's site also documents happy, successful graduates. "Since attending Hot Dog U, I have opened two Chicago Style Hot Dog stands in New England. Business couldn't be better. Thanks to Mark and the support from Vienna Beef," Grady Carlson of Windy City Eats and Windy City Hot Dogs and More wrote.

So if you're in the Chicago area, or you can spare a couple of days to fly out, Hot Dog University can start you on the path to your next career. In honor of National Hot Dog Day (and month!), TIME talked to the Hot Dog Czar Reitman and got some insider tips for your dog experience. Here's some of the most helpful tips we got out of the interview:
  • simmer your hot dogs on the stove, don't boil them
  • if you're chargrilling your dogs, be sure to cut them open
  • put condiments on the hot dog, never on the bun
  • if you're eating a Chicago-style dog, leave the ketchup out
Frankly, we're pretty hungry now.

Must Reads