I immediately assumed that both of them were about the same person, because it takes a special kind of psychopath to spread nut butter on a tube of processed meat.
On Wednesday, actor Evan Stern tweeted “I'm genuinely scared of people who put peanut butter on their hot dogs,” calling people who made this questionable decision “a secret society.” But his tweets have pulled this disgusting habit into the light, forcing all of us to confront a fear we didn’t know we had.
For months—years, even—there have been tweets claiming that peanut butter hot dogs are something that we would want to voluntarily put in our mouths. Although, like the source of a deadly plague or the idea for Nine Lives, we may never truly know who is responsible, this combination has been discussed on the internet for well over a decade. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a seven-year-old boy was responsible for one regional outbreak.
In 2006, Russell Emel was obsessed with all peanut butter everything, and started to demand that his mother top each of his hot dogs with a scoop of Skippy’s brand PB. (“It kind of made me sick to smear it on the hot dogs for him,” Cyndee Emel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.) She somewhat jokingly asked J. LeRoy Palumbo Jr., the owner of a meat market in Du Bois, Pennsylvania, if he would make some peanut butter hot dogs. He did, putting the peanut butter INSIDE THE HOT DOG CASING and selling them at his shop. A year later, Palumbo told the Chicago Tribune that he had sold more than 240,000 of them—in a town with 8,000 residents.
Since then, peanut butter hot dogs have appeared in questionable internet recipes and at specialty hot dog restaurants across the country. Peanut butter producer PB Crave suggests putting the peanut butter on the bun and topping the dog itself with bacon. Seattle’s Rain City Hot Dog goes full chaotic evil, serving a version with peanut butter, raspberry-chipotle jam, cream cheese, and bacon. And Pittsburgh Willy’s in Chandler, AZ clearly hates itself, having created a limited-edition dog topped with peanut butter and bacon (sigh) and shoved inside a Twinkie bun.
But, according to the photos that have surfaced on Twitter, there are plenty of other people who think nothing of scooping peanut butter on top of the hot dogs they’ve made in their own home. And those are the people we should fear.