It never fails that the hottest—and most humid—day of the year in Washington falls on the North American Meat Institute Annual Hot Dog Lunch. This year was no different.

For more than 40 years, the Meat Institute has hosted the lunch for hungry congressional staff, members of Congress and the media. It is one of the most coveted invites on Capitol Hill. There are even security guards at the door!

No invite? You’re out of luck. You’ll have to settle for a vegan dog outside. More on that later.

On July 17, more than 1,000 congressional staff and 50 members of Congress braved the 93 degree heat to chow down on hot dogs, corn dogs and brats.

Every year, the lunch occurs in the Rayburn House Office Building Courtyard on Capitol Hill, a space that has little shade and no wind flow. But, that’s the price to be paid for free hot dogs. About a handful of meat companies bring in multiple varieties of hot dogs and brats for the eating. All the toppings you could want, as well as snacks, were also provided.

I heard this year that the record of hot dogs eaten in an hour is six. These poor interns must not be that hungry!

In total, guests consumed more than 3,500 hot dogs that day.

The lunch is traditionally co-hosted by the House Agriculture Committee Chairman and Ranking Member. That was no different this year, as Congressman Collin Peterson, D-MN, and Michael Conaway, R-TX, were the honorary co-hosts.

There are also several famous baseball players in attendance. This year’s stars included Brady Anderson, Ray Knight and Rollie Fingers.

Anderson is a former outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles for 14 seasons. He is also a three-time all-star and a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame.

Fingers is a former pitcher who played for the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers. Also a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Fingers won three World Series titles with the Athletics, as well as the Most Valuable Player of the 1974 series.

Knight is a former infielder for the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets. Knight scored the winning run in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and earned the title of Most Valuable Player.

Posted outside the Rayburn Building was the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In previous years, PETA has displayed “lettuce ladies”—a.k.a. young women in lettuce bikinis handing out vegan hot dogs. However, this year, PETA employees were in short-sleeve black shirts. Needless to say, the lines for vegan dogs were much shorter.

The vegan dogs were from Beyond Meat, a plant-based company.


Promoting a vegan lifestyle and signing autographs was former NBA star John Salley, who played for several teams, including the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls.

PETA has held their poorly attended protest for nearly half the time as NAMI.

Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.

(2) comments


I love veggie dogs and all manner of vegan food--if I had been in DC that week, I'd have popped by, that's for sure!


I'll take a great-tasting, humane veggie dog over one made from who-knows-what parts of abused animals any day.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.