Americans love to debate which condiments should go atop a hot dog, but most will agree that a pillowy white bun is a must. In Europe, however, a different type of bun has taken the continent by storm. 

Known as the drilled hot dog bun, the product is made by drilling a hole in the center of a baguette, which is then filled with sausage and condiments. The on-the-go hot dog concept was introduced in Europe in the 1990s and initially wasn’t drilled. Hot dog shops first used a new bun heater featuring a warm spear, pressing the bun over it to make the hole. 

However, consumers eventually demanded the hole be drilled, as the spear made the bread chewy, noted Markus Brantner, president and chief executive officer of Bertschi Bakery, a Kloten, Switzerland-based manufacturer of the drilled bun. By the end of the decade, the first drilled hot dog equipment was installed. 

“Hereafter, the success really started to accelerate, because hot dog shops no longer had to invest in a new hot dog bun heater with a warm spear,” he said.

Many European markets saw the potential, and as consumer demand grew, the drilled hot dog began to appear across the continent, including Denmark, Sweden and Norway, followed by the United Kingdom and Ireland. Today, drilled hot dogs are staples at European gas stations, shopping centers, sporting events and more. 

“Almost every event or shop you find close to traffic is selling drilled hot dogs,” Brantner said. “It is the convenience that is really brilliant. You can walk, drive your car or even ride your bicycle while eating a hot dog.”

Today, the bun is being introduced in new markets like Germany and Switzerland. While it hasn’t taken off in the United States, Brantner says the potential is there. 

“Many people in the industry are now watching to see what happens with the drilled hot dog’s introduction in the world’s biggest hot dog market, the USA,” Brantner said.

This article is an excerpt from the May 2024 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Buns & Rollsclick here.