During hot dog season -- Memorial Day through Labor Day -- 7 billion hot dogs are eaten according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. A package of kosher hot dogs costs around $4 for 8 hot dogs -- that's 50 cents each. Hot dog buns cost 25 cents. Condiments such as mustard, ketchup, pickles and chopped onions cost less than 20 cents per serving. Your total cost for each hot dog sold is less than $1 for the kosher dogs which are about twice the price of standard hot dogs. Larger quarter-pound hot dogs cost $1 each. Sell the hot dogs for $3 and you've made a hefty profit even if you buy your hot dogs at the grocery store at retail prices.
One hundred hot dogs weigh about 12.5 pounds in one pound packages of eight hot dogs. If you serve 30 hot dogs per hour, 100 hot dogs will last through lunch. Because the hot dogs don't take up much space and weigh only 12.5 pounds, your cart size and heating equipment can be a smaller size, which saves on expenses and increases profitability. The buns take up space but don't weigh much.
Different types of hot dogs have different costs. All-beef varieties cost more than those dogs which include chicken, turkey, pork or mystery meat. Kosher hot dogs cost more. Gourmet hot dogs in natural casings have a higher price. Smaller dogs cost less than the quarter pounders. Price your hot dogs competitively but also consider the cost and what you offer with the hot dogs. Organic hot dogs might be a big hit in an upscale office park with younger workers, while standard hot dogs with traditional fixings would go over with an older population or with children who balk at adventurous flavors. The rule of thumb in the restaurant business is to price the food at three times what the ingredient costs. Include all the ingredients -- bun and condiments -- when you figure the price.
Customers expect at least the basics of mustard, ketchup and pickle relish with the purchase of a hot dog and bun. Individual servings of condiments in packages cost more than allowing customers to serve themselves from squeeze bottles but waste is less. Other condiments include sauerkraut, chopped raw onions, sautéed onions and green peppers, chili and cheese. It's still possible for the hot dog to be very profitable with the additional toppings. For example, a one-cup package of shredded cheese costs about $2. Keep profit margins in line by charging for the additional toppings, much like ordering a pizza with more than one topping, or offer different kinds of hot dogs and toppings priced according to the ingredients. For example a hot dog with mustard, ketchup and pickle relish could be on the menu for $3. However a chili cheese dog or a sauerkraut and sauteed onions and green peppers dog retails for $4.50.
Serving hot dogs requires a limited amount of labor which increases profitability. Hot dogs are fully cooked. All that's necessary is to heat the hot dogs in simmering water or use a commercial hot dog heater. Serving the hot dogs requires a minimum of effort. Simply put the hot dog in a bun and then wrap in paper.