July 4 has been my favorite holiday since I was a kid.
It was always a sign that my July birthday was coming up fast, and I'm crazy about fireworks and quite the little patriot (did I mention Lee Greenwood makes me cry every year?).
But not having TV as a kid, I never got to do what's become a tradition for my family: Watch the Nathan's International July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest on TV.
This year my daughter is looking forward to it like never before -- because she's armed with a host of hot dog facts to wow her Daddy with while we watch.
That's because we just finished reading Hot Diggity Dog: The History of the Hot Dog.
Try to say that three times fast.
And not get the song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in your head while doing it.
The kids' book by Adrienne Sylver is a fun mix of real historical moments (i.e., Neil Armstrong ate hot dogs on his trip to the moon) and useless trivia that will make them stars of the board game set in a few years (the most M&Ms eaten in 3 minutes is 170).
As a vegetarian, I was taking a pragmatic approach to the book -- we'll read it because she likes meat (and so does Daddy), but I was digging the veggie dog references enough to become a fan myself.
The section on the Nathan's event on Coney Island makes it July 4-appropriate, but the page devoted to the toppings on this dog from around the country could provide serious inspiration for a summer's worth of family barbecues.
The age recommendation is 4 to 8 for this book, but for reading aloud I'd peg it a little older ... and allow for young tweens to enjoy reading it to themselves.
Image via Penguin