Although summer doesn't officially begin until June 20, Memorial Day weekend is America's de facto beginning of summer — and that means hot dogs on the grill.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, hot dog producers estimate that 38% — or $614 million — of the total number of hot dogs are sold during this time, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. Ten percent of annual retail hot dog sales take place in July, which is designated as National Hot Dog Month.

With Ambassador launching its Skinless Franks as grilling season approaches, Evan Jex, associate brand manager for Ambassador, shared some thoughts on consumer trends shaping the market for hot dogs.

What consumer trends are driving demand for Skinless Franks? 

Evan Jex : By conducting consumer research, we discovered that more than 65% of hot dog buyers prefer skinless hot dogs. Interestingly, those who opt for skinless hot dogs are usually younger than natural casing enthusiasts. Introducing a skinless option allows Ambassador to attract a broader, younger demographic, aiming to cultivate lifelong Ambassador consumers.

What flavor trends are powering innovations in the frankfurter category? 

Evan Jex : Exciting flavors such as chili cheese and jalapeno cheddar are sprinkled across the category. Yet, our discovery revealed that premium hot dog consumers prefer products with “real” ingredients as opposed to products that use fillers, by-products and artificial flavors like liquid smoke.

In a retail environment where shoppers are increasingly cost-conscious, what unique value proposition do Ambassador Skinless Franks offer? 

Evan Jex :Ambassador Skinless Franks are a more premium option within the hot dog category. With that, Ambassador Skinless Franks will typically be sold at a higher price than mainstream competition. Notably, consumers will see the value of Ambassador Skinless Franks during their eating experience — a delicious frank that uses only premium cuts of pork and beef, no by-products and no added fillers. Ambassador’s “Family Size” 18-pack will be the greatest value at the store level. 

What promotional efforts are planned to support Ambassador Skinless Franks? 

Evan Jex :The Ambassador brand continues to expand without losing its longtime Minnesota roots. Ambassador has an entire summer planned for showcasing the brand and its new offering, Skinless Franks. The latest offering will also be promoted across the Ambassador Hot Dogs social channels. In addition to shopping for the product throughout Minnesota, consumers can spot Ambassador at Minnesota events such as the 12th Annual GrillFest in St. Paul, Minn., the 2024 Lumberjack Days in Stillwater, Minn., and the James J. Hill Festival in Wayzata, Minn.