I recently read about a research study that suggested every time you eat a hot dog you shorten your lifespan by 36 minutes. That’s a disturbing figure for a hot dog lover like myself. I mean, it’s conceivable a person could eat 1,000 hot dogs in his or her life, especially if that person is a Red Sox fan. Or a poor sleeper, which I am. More about that later.

A little calculation and we learn that if you eat 1,000 hot dogs you will cut your life short by 36,000 minutes, which translates to 600 hours or 25 days, nearly a month. Certainly not as deadly as smoking a pack of cigs or swilling a pint of gin every day. But hey, a lost month is a lost month. And think of the 30 hot dogs gone uneaten.

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There are unlimited individual and regional preferences when it comes to preparing and eating hot dogs. Business Wire photo

Why focus on hot dogs and not some other life-shortening food like chicken wings, mac and cheese or whoopie pies? Well, I’m of the opinion that hot dogs, with a little creativity, constitute a complete cuisine. And I’m fussy about what kind of hot dogs I eat. No turkey dogs or (God forbid) tofu dogs for me. I’m partial to the Hebrew National brand, particularly their all-beef “bun length” dog, which maximizes the all-important ratio of meat to bun. The locally made dogs at Shields Meats are top flight, too.

As for toppings, there’s nothing like chili, onions and crushed Fritos, but your basic mustard or ketchup condiment is perfectly fine, too. I like a smear of sriracha sauce when I go the ketchup route, but that’s a quirky personal preference. I put sriracha sauce on damn near everything. I once squirted sriracha on vanilla ice cream, but I would not recommend it.

As for hot dogs as a sleep aid, here’s my experience. I have trouble sleeping through the night. I fall asleep easily, but after about four hours my brain cells start firing and I wake up and have a tough time falling back asleep. I’ve tried all kinds of remedies, including staying up later, taking over-the-counter sleeping pills and watching boring old movies on cable TV. None of these strategies worked particularly well.

Taking three milligrams of melatonin with a cup of chamomile tea also did nothing to help me sleep, but eating a grilled hot dog on a side-cut potato-flour bun (I told you I was fussy) with three fingers of good bourbon did the trick. This calorie-packed midnight snack caused the blood in my overstimulated brain to change course and rush to my overstuffed stomach. Whatever complicated gastronomic/neural processes were involved, this simple eating-to-sleep strategy allowed me to eventually drift back into Lalaland.

But like any homemade remedy that doubles as a guilty pleasure, there was a price to be paid. I was smart enough to know that eating hot dogs in the middle of the night couldn’t be all that good for me; I was consuming pounds and pounds of fatty, chemical-infused red meat. If the fat wasn’t clogging my arteries, the nitrates and nitrates were surely corrupting my cells. It was a terrible conundrum: get too little sleep and die an early death or eat too many hot dogs and die an early death.

In the end, I figured if I was going to die early, I might as well die happy. You see, I’m nearly 70 and the Grim Reaper is right around the corner, whispering my name. Is my hot dog eating strategy worth the risk of a premature demise? Hmmm. I will have to think about that. In the meantime, pass the mustard and turn out the lights.

Steven Price is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at sprice1953@gmail.com.

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