How do you get the Slit in the Hot Dog Bun

Speculation abounds as to how hot dog buns are manufactured. What is the truth? Have you ever opened a package of hot dog buns and wondered how the side slit was cut while the hot dogs remained fused together in sets of four? If so, the experts at Franz Family Bakeries reveal the truth as to the question inspired by my husband, the trivia king, asking “how do they (the manufacturer) slice the hot dog bun down the center without breaking them apart?”

Franz Family Bakeries, who contracts with Western Family to produce the private label’s baked goods spoke to me from their Seattle, Washington bakery. Western Family is a Northwest supermarket private label, while Franz Bakeries makes a variety of products, to include hot dog and hamburger buns. They are a family-owned commercial bakery serving Western Washington restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores and other food establishments. They contract with Western Family and many other private label companies to produce their baked goods. There are six Franz bakeries in Washington and Oregon.

What happens from the time the buns are baked to the time they are ready for packaging?

Customer Compliance for Franz Bakeries, Sue Donahue, says “Specialized equipment is involved in the production of these buns. The buns are baked in clusters of four on special bun pans.”

Franz Bakerie’s Corporate Customer Compliance Manager, Don Gai, says “The process starts with the buns proofing together (rising) for 55 minutes before they go into the oven to bake for eight to 10 minutes. The clusters of four then come down and off the cooling line. The buns are cut with hinge slicing equipment. As a cluster of four buns comes down the aisle from the cooling chamber, a round circular wheel, goes through the middle of the bun, hinging two buns together at a time.”

Gai said, “Think of the slicing blade as a wheel, not a blade, but a round wheel, turning rapidly. As the buns come through for slicing, the wheel turns and hinges the buns. The hinge slicer wheel is a round, disc with a diameter of two inches.”

He explained the wheel has to go between the bun. As it does, a rubber pressurized belt holds the buns in place for the slicing process. The hinge slices through just enough to keep the buns together so you don’t lose the hinge of the bun.

“Visualize your hand, palm down with four fingers up.” Gai says,” The first two buns go right through the middle and the hinge slicing equipment slices the buns. The finished product is sliced with the round wheel, two at a time, but only to a depth that allows a hinge to remain on the product.”

“The belt the buns travel down is flat and the buns remain flat. The slicer wheel is also flat,.” Gai said “Think of a blade at a sawmill or a table saw mounted on its side instead of upright and horizontal to the buns so it slices into the side of the buns as they pass.”

Now from insider information you have the whole story, and the true visual of how hot dogs buns are manufactured with a side slice in hinges of four, but there is another common question asked by consumers.

Why do hot dog buns come in packages of eight and hot dogs in packages of 10? Too many hot dogs, not enough buns. Again there is much human speculation to the reality. Here are seven.

1 – Children like to eat hot dogs without buns.

2 – The meat-packing industry likes to make things in pounds.

3 – Bakers hate things that come in tens.

4 – When you have hot dogs left, you buy more buns, which is good for the economy.

5 – For dinner guests on a low-carb diet.

6 – One or two buns may be defective and not open.

7 – Left over hot dog meat in the processing machine.

The truth is times have changed, according to Gai. There are different configurations of sizes in the manufacturing of hot dog buns. They really do come packaged in fours, sixes, eights, 12 and even 24 found in bulk at stores like Costco.

Most of us see the same, most common packaging of eight buns, four on top, four on the bottom at our local stores. Somehow there has been a metamorphosis occurring within the industry in response to consumers to add variety, but the consumer may have a hard time finding what they want. It seems packages of six, 10, 12, 24 may not be as plentiful or easy to find as we’d like.

It depends on where you shop and which region of the country you reside, as to where you’ll find packaging to suit your needs. For us, we always see the same eight buns to a package in the Northwest supermarkets we frequent. Some regions of the country have six hot dogs to a package meaning there will be buns left over, instead of sausages.

In today’s modern society hot dog buns are manufactured to please the consumer and do come in varying package sizes, although you might have to search for them. They aren’t always located in a convenient place in the supermarket aisles so you can make the choice on the spot. You might have to go looking for the various packaging sizes, shopping different stores. Also of note is, buns are manufactured in sets of four to a pan, therefore most packaging will be in sets of fours, except for those odd packages of six.

On the flip side, hot dogs, the meat product, also now come packaged in different sizes. Hebrew National, for instance, makes seven dogs to a package, a good compromise to 10, and also produces the quarter pounder in packages of four hot dogs. You can even buy packages of eight hot dogs at Walmart to coincide with the eight package hot dog bun sizes.

Gai says the reality is you can customize how many hot dogs you want by ordering them at the meat deli or butcher. Just want one hot dog, head for the deli and talk to the meat man.

Which ever way you slice it, or however these products are packaged, hot dogs and hot dog buns remain as American as apple pie. Leftovers or not, hot dogs are here to stay, to enjoy, and to partner with the all- American hot dog bun.