Imagine this: you’re standing around at a barbecue in your friend’s backyard when the grillmaster asks you, “Hey, do you want a burger or a hot dog?” Indecision and anxiety wash over you. Your mind is floundering back and forth, knowing that if you choose the wrong option, it could ruin your entire barbecuing experience, deter you from attending future barbecues, and thus ostracize you from your friends and neighbors. This difficult decision has plagued humankind since the dawn of our age. No more! Say hello to the Hamdog.
Way back in 2004, culinary mastermind out of Australia, Mark Murray conceived what was to become one of the greatest revolutions in backyard barbecuing and handheld edible enjoyment: the Hamdog. Take a hamburger, split it in half, slide a hot dog right between those two semicircular pieces of beef, lay it all on a bun perfectly designed for this menagerie of meat, and stuff that Hamdog down your face, stress-free. Never again do you have to choose between burgers and dogs; this is the best of both worlds, people!
While any logical human being would assume that the Hamdog would be sold in every supermarket and every restaurant across the seven continents, you’ll be surprised to learn that the business has hit a couple of rough patches. It’s hell or high water for the Hamdog, and Mark Murray seems willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that his innovation takes its rightful place among legendary fast food items like the Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich from Carl’s Jr. or the Meat Mountain Sandwich from Arby’s.
The Hamdog Is Born
Mark Anthony Murray was the first known man to have pioneered a Hamdog. His motivation for creating it was simple: he believed that no one should have to choose between a hot dog and a hamburger. Murray envisioned a world in which everyone could enjoy both simultaneously, and where that option would be available at every burger joint and in every backyard.
The idea came to him while he was at a bar in Nashville. He decided to get a burger and a hot dog to go and hop in a taxi to his next destination. As he was sitting in the back of that taxi on that fateful day, he started munching away on his burger. Next, he decided to take a bite of his hot dog. And then it hit him: why not eat both at the same time?
After years spent developing the Hamdog, Murray decided that it was time to take his meaty masterpiece to the global stage. To do so, he needed a foot in the door to the world of big-time commerce. So Mark Murray, being as business savvy as he is culinarily talented, decided to pitch his Hamdog on the popular television program Shark Tank (the Australian version, not the American version with Mark Cuban).
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the show, it involves entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas to a panel of established business moguls in hopes of convincing one of them to invest in their idea. Most of these entrepreneurs ask for six-figure financial injections for a sizable portion of their business. Mark Murray, on the other hand, took a rather different approach. He offered the “Sharks” a 25% stake in his business for the hefty sum of one single dollar.
What? How could he possibly offer up such a generous percentage of his business for pretty much nothing? Well, Mark Murray is no average businessman, and to understand what he was doing, you have to understand what his plans for the Hamdog were. Rather than expanding the idea into a Hamdog brand or chain of restaurants, Murray went out and patented the groundbreaking technology. To be specific, he patented the bun, which is perfectly shaped to accommodate both a hot dog and a hamburger.
Murray’s business idea was to either sell this patent to a larger fast food chain for a large sum or to license the Hamdog to a variety of different food distributors. While most of the panel members on Shark Tank couldn’t wrap their heads around the pure genius of Murray’s invention (people didn’t understand the internet when it was invented either), a brave Shark by the name of Andrew Banks took a leap of faith on Mark Murray and the Hamdog. Banks, however, asked for 50% of the company in exchange for two dollars, a deal which Murray promptly accepted.
So, as you’ve been reading through this article, you may have been wondering, Why haven’t I seen a Hamdog in local grocery stores near me? Well, it seems that the Hamdog didn’t enjoy quite the level of smashing success that Murray anticipated.
The Hamdog After Shark Tank
After Murray presented his magnum opus on Shark Tank, the Hamdog went viral. People all across the internet were discussing the creation, building their own versions of it, and asking when this life-changing food item would arrive in their neighborhoods. Jimmy Kimmel even mentioned the Hamdog on live television, saying, “My fellow Americans, a man in Australia somehow managed to come up with a hamburger-hot dog hybrid and that is just flat-out unacceptable.” As an American myself, I must say that I agree with Jimmy’s sentiment.
Nevertheless, an Australian beat us to the idea and then tried to take that idea to the U. S. market with the aid of Andrew Banks. Surprisingly, fast food franchises in the United States did not seem interested in selling the Hamdog in their establishments, and the Banks-Murray duo had to rethink their business strategy. Since then, they’ve begun focusing more heavily on event marketing, selling the Hamdog at local fairs and sporting events. Murray and Banks have since grown the brand to an estimated net worth of $10 million, and they haven’t given up on searching for franchisees to pick up their hot dog-hamburger hybrids.
For Banks and Murray, though, the real targets are the big fast food chains in the United States. Americans eat around 50 billion burgers per year, which is around 2.4 per day per person, which is disgusting. Americans also consume about 20 billion hot dogs every year, which is no small number either. While these facts are undeniably horrifying, they also show that the citizens of the United States are primed and ready to accept the Hamdog into their cholesterol-burdened hearts.
Other Iterations of the Hamdog
Mark Murray not only blazed the trail for the Hamdog but has also inspired others to follow in his path. Since Murray took his Hamdog on Shark Tank, several chefs from around the world have put their own artistic spins on this culinary compromise.
Chandler Goff of Decatur, Georgia bar Mulligans invented his own American version of the Hamdog, and it may be even wackier than the original. The Mulligans Hamdog featured a hot dog wrapped in a beef burger patty, which is then deep-fried and stuck on an Italian roll and drenched in chili, and then topped off with french fries and a fried egg for good measure. It’s fair to say that Goff’s Hamdog was truly in keeping with the American fast food fascination.
Jimmy’s Food & Drink in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota also started serving its own version of the Hamdog and even held a Hamdog eating contest so that people could consume their unbelievably caloric food item as fast as possible. Their version includes a quarter-pound hot dog wrapped in a half-pound burger, which is stuffed with cheese, fried, stuck on a hoagie roll, and topped off with even more cheese, chili, and onions.
Unsurprisingly, medical professionals have come out in droves to warn Americans about the negative health effects of consuming either of the aforementioned Hamdogs. So, eat at your own risk. With that being said, I think we can all agree that the mere existence of these absurd sandwiches is enough to make us smile.