For those that don't know, July 23rd is National Hot Dog Day, and what better day than that to answer a question I've been asking since I arrived in Bismarck: why are Cloverdale hot dogs red?

Since I came to Bismarck in January of 2013, I've probably asked between 20 and 30 people why Cloverdale hot dogs are red, yet no one was able to ever give me a straight answer.

Is there something wrong with the hot dogs? Is it food coloring? Why red? Why not blue or green? So, for National Hot Dog Day, I decided to scour Google for answers.

When you search 'Why are Cloverdale hot dogs red,' Google sends you right to the Cloverdale website. Here's their explanation, if you want to call it that:

Why red, you ask? Well, colors are just a little bigger at Big Flavor Country…just like the taste!

Nice try, Cloverdale, but that's not exactly an answer. A little bit further down in the search results, I came across a discussion on, where someone was asking the same question I am today.

In that discussion, there were quite a few suggestions as to why Cloverdale hot dogs were red. One person suggested food coloring and the brine for their smoking process, while another says the color comes from sodium nitrite.

So, let's take a look at the ingredients. According to Cloverdale's website, their Red Franks contain beef and pork, water, salt, corn syrup, dextrose, flavorings, potassium lactate, sodium lactate, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, smoke flavoring, sodium nitrite.

Based on those ingredients and the suggestions made on the message board, one could assume that sodium nitrite is the culprit for the red color of Cloverdale hot dogs. Checking sodium nitrite on Wikipedia basically confirms that assumption:

Sodium nitrite is responsible for the desirable red color (or shaded pink) of meat.

So, there you have it. Based on everything I've found, Cloverdale hot dogs are red, due to the addition of sodium nitrite.

And, if you don't want to believe that, you can always just believe what Cloverdale says on its website. Either way, keep enjoying those Cloverdale hot dogs!