While kosher hot dogs may resemble other hot dogs, they are usually prepared using different ingredients and different methods from those used to make non-kosher products. This is because kosher hot dogs are prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. Therefore, these hot dogs can be made from only certain types of meat. Further, the animal from which the hot dogs are made must be slaughtered according to certain guidelines. Finally, kosher hot dogs can only be made in an environment that does not process non-kosher items or dairy products.
Kosher dietary laws are part of the Jewish faith, and are largely dictated by the Torah. One of the central kosher dietary laws states that it is only permissible to eat mammals that both have cloven hooves and ruminate, or regurgitate partially digested food in order to chew it again. While pigs have cloven hooves, they do not ruminate, and thus are not considered kosher. This means that pork, which makes up the bulk of many non-kosher hot dogs, cannot be used in kosher products. Instead of pork, kosher hot dogs are usually made from beef.
Even animals that fit kosher criteria can lose their kosher status if they are not slaughtered according to certain guidelines. Therefore, kosher hot dogs are made from beef derived from cattle which have been slaughtered in accordance with kosher law. The guidelines for kosher slaughter dictate that an animal must be alert at the time of its death. It also must be killed with a single knife cut, a method which is believed to minimize suffering. Following slaughter, it must be demonstrated that the animal did not have any health conditions which would cause it to die within one year.
Additionally, kosher hot dogs cannot be made in an environment that processes non-kosher items or dairy products. Contact with non-kosher foods, or even instruments which have been used to process non-kosher foods, renders a formerly kosher item non-kosher. Similarly, kosher law prohibits the mixture of meat and dairy products. Therefore, contact with dairy products or utensils and machinery which have been used to process dairy products would make a previously-kosher hot dog non-kosher.
Consumption of kosher hot dogs is by no means limited to those Jews who observe a kosher diet. It has been estimated, in fact, that as much as 75 percent of all kosher products sold in the United States are consumed by non-Jewish individuals. In the case of the kosher hot dog, many find that kosher manufacturing regulations result in a product which is of higher quality and better taste than non-kosher competitors.