Wednesday more than 1,000 Capitol Hill lawmakers, staff, meat industry representatives and members of the media filled the Rayburn House Office Building Courtyard to celebrate National Hot Dog Month at American Meat Institute’s (AMI) annual hot dog lunch on Capitol Hill. 

“The hot dog lunch is one of the most popular events on Capitol Hill, which is a testament to Americans’ enthusiasm for the hot dog,” said AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle. “We always look forward to hosting guests to celebrate this American food icon in the nation’s capital.”

Guests left with full stomachs as AMI projected it would serve more than 3,500 hot dogs, corn dogs, pretzel dogs, brats and other sausages from popular hot dog manufacturers including Boar’s Head Provisions Co., Inc., Farmland Foods, Hatfield Quality Meats, Hormel Foods Corporation, Kraft Foods (Oscar Mayer), Kunzler and Company, Hillshire Brands (Ball Park/Hillshire Farms/State Fair), Smithfield Foods, Inc., and Tyson Foods Inc.. All uncooked or pre-packaged leftover food was slated for donation to a local food bank.

The 2012 Hot Dog Lunch was co-hosted by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn. The event was also sponsored by American Bakers Association, American Beverage Association, DIAGEO, Hormel Foods Corporation (Chili), International Bottled Water Association, MillerCoors and Snack Food Association.

Attending this year’s lunch to greet fans, sign autographs and sample the hot dogs were:

Paul Leo Molitor, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and former designated hitter and infielder from 1978 to 1998. Molitor, nicknamed “Molly” and “The Ignitor,” played for the Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins. In 2004, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, becoming one of the first players who spent a significant portion of his career as a designated hitter to be enshrined. He was known for his exceptional hitting and speed.

Willie Horton, former Major League baseball left fielder and designated hitter from 1963 to 1980. Horton played the majority of his career with the Detroit Tigers but played with six American League teams. He hit 20 or more home runs seven times, and his 325 career home runs ranked sixth among AL right-handed hitters when he retired. He is best known for the 1968 season with the world champion Tigers, which he finished second in the AL with 36 homers, had a .543 slugging average and took 278 total bases. In the later years of his career, he was twice named the AL’s top designated hitter.

Photos of the event will be available on AMI’s Facebook page