Food: All Hail the Spider Dog

Hot dog, we have a wiener! The greatest Canadian summer cuisine.

Historical accounts state that the newly formed Dominion of Canada came into confederation on July 1 of 1867 and was comprised of four provinces we now recognize as Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

 

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By Colin D Watt

As we celebrate Canada’s one hundred and fiftieth birthday this summer, most historians will agree on all the important confederacy dates and details concerning which documents were signed by whom and so on and so forth. But one of the most overlooked and under-documented historic moments in Canadian heritage is the post-confederation ceremony snack that was served: The Spider Dog.

Revisionist history aside, many Canadians today remain unaware of what a Spider Dog is, exactly. It’s a hot dog (or wiener, sausage, frankfurter, etc.) with both ends cut in a cross-sectioned manner. Once sliced, the “dog” is traditionally flame-cooked on the end of a roasting stick resulting in an eight-legged, edible, arachnid-looking delight.

Hotdogs, wieners, tube steaks, and pretty much any other meat cylinders originated from a German background. But the Spider Dog style of cooking them is as Canadian as maple syrup, bench-clearing hockey brawls, and John Candy.

Food has an interesting way of transcending borders and cultures. While us Canadians can safely lay national claim to inventions like the Caesar cocktail and Nanaimo bars, there is no debate that Canadians are also well known for taking great culinary ideas and making them even better. Potato chips and French fries were definitely NOT invented in Canada, but we are internationally known for ketchup chips and poutine. Canadians are too polite to claim that we invented macaroni and cheese (credit the Italians with that), but we sure eat a crapload of it. Similarly, hotdogs, wieners, tube steaks, and pretty much any other meat cylinders originated from a German background. But the Spider Dog style of cooking them is as Canadian as maple syrup, bench-clearing hockey brawls, and John Candy.

 

 

Much like our identity as Canadians, many of our inventions and innovations are tied to our landscape. Renowned creations such as snowmobiles, igloos, the goaltender’s hockey mask, and snowblowers were all inspired by Canadian winter life in the Great White North. Similarly, the Spider Dog cooking technique is beneficial because the increased surface area actually cooks the wiener more quickly, which is nice when you are continuously battling the swarms of mosquitoes and black flies so prevalent during Canadian summer camping season.

As Canada celebrates our sesquicentennial (that’s Quebecois for a 150-year anniversary) we’d like to remind you to take a moment and feel the pride every time you come across a lightbulb, drink a Caesar, eat a Coffee Crisp, use a walkie-talkie, a pager, an electron microscope, sonar, a zipper, a Robertson screw, a Wonderbra, a birch-bark canoe or a steam-powered foghorn . . . they’re all Canadian.

And don’t forget to wash all that patriotism down with a perfectly roasted Spider Dog and some good, strong Canadian beer.

 

Spider Dog Tips

There are no wrong decisions when it comes to Spider Dogs, but we’d like to take this opportunity to make some suggestions before you put sticks to flames…

  • Always cook your meat thoroughly to avoid any health concerns (Spider Dogging is a great way to ensure that your dogs are appropriately fired).
  • If using a wooden roasting stick, or an improvised twig or branch, soaking it in water beforehand will prevent any unwanted burning and lessen the risk of your Spider Dog falling into the flames.
  • Keep your cooking utensil rotating to guarantee even roasting.
  • Veggie Spider Dogs do exist but be wary some veggie options have a casing holding them together. The dog will fall apart if you split this casing.
  • Canada is a multicultural potpourri of cultures and influences so don’t be afraid to go off script and consider a chorizo dog with sriracha sauce, or bratwurst with Grey Poupon, or even a venison dog with maple syrup. This is Canada, eh—whatever you want is fine with us.

 

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