When is a hot dog not a hot dog?


Another fabulous Fourth of July weekend has come and gone.

Again this year, we blew up scads of fireworks and consumed countless burgers and hot dogs — all commodity items that defy much serious expectation.

So when is a hot dog, not just a hot dog?

When it’s an event.

This is because of something called product differentiation.

Product, or service, differentiation can help consumers tell you apart from the competition. When people appreciate the difference they become interested in doing business with you.

Yet, differentiation can be a challenge, especially when it comes to mundane products such as hot dogs. Brothers George and Rich Shea have brilliantly differentiated the Nathan’s brand of hot dogs by holding an annual hot dog eating contest.

The contest, started in 1961, is now televised on ESPN. Every year, publications such as The New York Times run articles that provided thousands of dollars in free advertising.

When is a hot dog not a hot dog? When it’s the featured product of a televised hot dog eating contest — every July 4. Brilliant!

Have a safe and relaxing holiday vacation, for those fortunate to have the week off. As for the rest of us (hard at work), enjoy the weather.

Oh, and tell me, how do you differentiate your hot dog? With mustard? Catsup? Onions and chili?