Second, danger dogs are always grilled, rather than boiled or steamed. The Department of Health also hates this because it is illegal for food vendors in LA to cook hot dogs using any methods other than boiling or steaming.
Finally, the standard set of toppings on a Danger Dog is also (allegedly) distinct to LA. Each is topped with ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, sautéed onions, and peppers, plus a whole, green poblano chile pepper (just try putting mayo on a hot dog in New York or Chicago and you'll probably be asked to leave the city, never to return).
But is the Danger Dog really LA's own cuisine? How did the Danger Dog come to exist? To find out, we're going to take a trip back through hot dog history.
There has always been something suspect about hot dogs. Before the creation of the USDA and modern inspections of businesses that handle meat, sausages were the destination for the most repulsive and otherwise unmarketable bits of meat -- arguably, for many years, all hot dogs were danger dogs. Upton Sinclair's most famous book, “The Jungle” (1906), described pretty much the worst case scenario for making hot dogs, which was all too common a century ago:
“There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water -- from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together. This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one -- there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit."
That was the reality of the hot dog in the early days of its ubiquity. Sinclair's book quickly led to the creation of a federal agency in 1906 that later became the Food and Drug Administration. By that time, the term “hot dog” had become well-established in the US for a small, soft sausage served on a bun. Now less likely to kill the customers, the next step in the evolution of the Danger Dog was to jump south of the border.
Most culinary historians generally agree that ground zero for the hot dog in Mexico was the city of Hermosillo in the state of Sonora. Some credit an American circus for introducing the hot dog some time in the early 20th century, while others claim it was a visiting baseball team (the evidence is thin in both cases). However it did come to get there, the hot dog took off locally, and by the early 1950s a distinctly Sonoran hot dog had evolved. To connoisseurs, it t represented nothing short of a renaissance.