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That Hot Dog App from 'Silicon Valley' Is Real, and Yes, It Works

We no longer have to live in a state of constant confusion as to whether what we're looking at is, in fact, a wiener.

by Jelisa Castrodale
17 May 2017, 9:30am

Photo via Flickr user Peter Lindberg

It's happened to all of us: We've stared uncomfortably at a piece of food, a furniture display or even a co-worker and in a state of disorientation, have had to ask ourselves "Is this a hot dog?" Fortunately, a new app called Not Hotdog is here to prevent those awkward moments and to provide a definitive answer to that very question.

If that app sounds familiar, it's probably because you watched the most recent episode of the HBO series Silicon Valley. (If you haven't, stop right here and remedy that. We'll wait.) In the episode "Teambuilding Exercise," Erlich and Jian-Yang are still working on their food-recognising app, SeeFood. Without revealing too many plot points, SeeFood can't identify every food, but it can identify hot dogs. Only hot dogs...or, um, not hot dogs.

And because this is 2017, less than 12 hours after the episode aired, an app called "Not Hotdog" was already available as a free download for your iOS devices. It also behaves exactly as it did on the show, placing every item that is photographed in one of two categories. I tested it, and it correctly labeled a Google image search of hot dogs as "Hotdog" and was equally adept at identifying a pizza, a long-forgotten box of frozen turkey sausages, and a Billy Joel record as "Not Hotdog." TECHNOLOGY!

"What would you say if I told you there is an app on the market that tell you if you have a hot dog or not a hot dog," Jian-Yang "wrote" on Product Hunt. "It is very good and I don't want to work on it any more. You can hire someone else."

RECIPE: Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs

Other commenters expressed their gratitude for the app. "This app saved my life," one hot dog-challenged man wrote. "Seriously, I worked hours to train my eye on differentiating whether an object is a hot dog. I hopelessly watched many YouTube videos. I even bought a book. Just when I was about to give up, I found this app."

Engadget said that Not Hotdog is more successful at identifying its subjects than Shazam, which is probably a true statement. It is terrifically accurate, and no less unnecessary than any other apps. We see you, FaceApp.