Bryan Myers

We ate our first Icelandic hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which literally translates to ‘the best hot dog in town’. Throughout the week we also sampled hot dogs from a tourist stop on the south coast and from a gas station in the middle of nowhere, and the quality is pretty much uniform. While North American dogs are made from what is affectionately known as “lips and assholes” (the leftovers of a butchered animal) and the maximum legal amount of food-grade sawdust, Icelandic hot dogs are made from the country’s free-roaming, grass-eating, sheep, with a bit of small farm raised pork and beef. Don’t be alarmed that Icelandic hot dogs are primarily lamb though, the diet and habitat of Icelandic sheep creates a much more subtle flavour from the lamb we’re used to in North America.

A typical reaction to American hot dogs. Not typical at all for Icelandic ones.

Topped with ketchup, a sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep (which if I had to guess translates into hot dog sauce), a remoulade (like mayo with relish), and onions two ways, crispy fried and raw. After eating Icelandic hot dogs, I’m not sure I can go back to the old-fashioned America style of ketchup, mustard, and occasionally relish. The related items of this search should provide all the ingredients for the perfect Icelandic hot dog.

One observation I have about Icelandic hot dogs is that unlike their North American cousins, they only come in one size, no “footlong” or “jumbo” option and rightly so. I just read a story in The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan about how in the early years of McDonald’s fries came in one size and one size only. The owner felt that if people wanted more fries, they’d just order them, but market research proved people felt gluttonous going up for a second helping so, even if they were craving them, opted against the extra fries. That’s probably not the reason Iceland hot dogs are one size fits all, but it’s something to think about.

The Icelandic hot dog is a must try, and luckily it’s very affordable at about 450 krónur (about $6 CAD). Plus, it’s hard not to find a place to grab a couple got dogs, they’re sold in Reykjavik, at gas stations and stands around the country, and even at the airport.