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How to Scam a Free Hot Dog on the 4th of July

It's the American way!

7:00 AM EDT on July 4, 2023

A table full of hot dogs.

(Samuel Ramos / Unsplash)

The Fourth of July is upon us, which means that it's time to celebrate in the way our founding fathers intended: eating a hot dog, preferably outside while you're kind of buzzed. I don't care what you put on that bad boy; I don't care what beer you're guzzling in between bites; I don't even have a horse in the pork versus beef race. The only quality that this hot dog must indisputably possess is that it cost exactly zero dollars. 

That's right: The only worthwhile Fourth of July plan is obtaining and consuming a free hot dog by absolutely any means necessary. After all, what's more American than scheming and mooching? In fact, the only reason anyone should be paying for a hot dog on the Fourth of July is if they're buying one for me.

But how does one obtain a free hot dog? Let me count the ways! (OK, I counted, and I came up with eight.) Please feel free to deploy any of these suggested tactics, and let us know how they panned out in the comments below. 

1. Hit up your co-worker who has a yard or a fancy roof

Tastes like friendly work-life balance. (Marco Verch / Flickr)

You know what they say: Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your co-worker with viable outdoor space closest of all. If they're doing anything for the holiday, there's gonna be a hot dog in the equation. Bring a six-pack or a bottle of wine so you don't get iced out on Labor Day. (This does not count as a barter situation because the beverages are the price of admission. The hot dog—that's free.)

2. Go to your friend's partner's barbecue

Thanks for the hot dog, Sarah. (Mollie Merritt / Unsplash)

The key is to choose a friend whose significant other you don't really connect with, so stuff like the social contract or having a good time won't get in the way of what you're actually there for: two to three hot dogs, courtesy of someone who you're spent 24-plus hours talking shit about.

3. Stealing

An absolute breeze to swipe. (Ball Park Brand / Unsplash)

Fortune favors the bold. We can't, in good conscience, recommend "forgetting" your wallet and bolting down the street while the guy behind the hot dog cart cartoonishly shakes his fist…but let's just say it'll get the job done.

4. Plot and execute a honeypot operation

Heyyyyyyyyyyy ! (Sajeewa Welendagoda/ Flickr)

Dating apps are mostly a waste of time—but if you're on the prowl for a free hot dog, they can become your greatest tool. Set up a dating account strategically designed to catfish hot dog cart men, go on one or two dates to gain your target's trust, and then offer to take over the cart for a day so he can spend the holiday relaxing with friends or visiting his mother. Boom! His empire is yours. That's what we in the business of getting free shit call "the long game."

5. Challenge Joey Chestnut 

You're going down, Joey. (Amaury Laporte / Flickr)

And practice saying this in the mirror so you sound as convincing as possible after one expeditiously eaten dog: "Oh my god, Joey, I'm so full, I have no idea how you do it! You win!"

6. Become a food TikToker (for a day)

"Get ready with me to scam a free hot dog!" (Peter Secan / Unsplash)

Study up on all those freaky Gen Z hand gestures and get ready to pretend to film ✨TOP TEN HOT DOGS IN NEW YORK CITY: RANKED ✨#hiddengem #lowereastside #fyp #hotdog #formydogs

7. Walk up and ask

Three people, forever bonded by the power of free hot dogs. (Timoune Aracama/ Unsplash)

We don't spend enough time talking to our neighbors, connecting to the community and appreciating the rich tapestry of the city beyond our own little bubbles. One way to form an instant bond with the people around you? Ask them for free food. Your mileage may vary depending on whether or not you have a friendly aura, and how threateningly you're demanding this hot dog. 

8. Craigslist ad

These are probably the best free hot dogs available on Craigslist. (Per-Olof Forsberg / Flickr)

This is some real last resort shit, but it would probably work. Just make sure you are very, very explicit about the kind of hot dog that you are looking for.

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