To my surprise I've not gotten an email this week from a PR agency with the subject line "Minnesotans are 47% more likely to put ketchup on a hot dog." Seems the perfect week for such meaningless statistics, what with the start of summer on Monday.

Yes, summer starts on the 20th of June, but no one believes that. It's the longest day of the year, and everything thereafter is a contraction, a diminution. We all know that summer starts on Memorial Day and ends when the State Fair closes its gates.

In between now and then: We eat lots of hot dogs. Americans will eat 7 billion firm tubes of vague meat in the coming summer, according to industry statistics.

There are three means of preparation:

Grilled. You're having a cookout, there are kids, you throw some dogs on the grill. Sure, you could microwave them, but putting them on the grill adds those diagonal lines that bestow summertime authenticity. Note: If pressed for time, use a Sharpie.

Boiled. These are the ones you get at the neighborhood festival, and are served on buns that are guaranteed to contain no less than 12% sawdust and possibly were baked in 1967.

Camping hot dogs. Skewered by a stick you found in the woods, which might have fauna-spoor and possibly fatal mushroom juice, but hey, the fire oughta kill it.

Prep method aside, the question is whether we're eating enough of them. Minnesotans, according to a 2019 study, rank 16th lowest in the frank-gobbling hierarchy, with an annual estimated per capita consumption of 197.

This is an alarming statistic. Last year I had one (1) hot dog. I'm not sure my wife had any. That's a household deficit of 393 hot dogs. That means someone picked up the slack, eating a total of 590 per year. (Yes, that is exactly how statistics and math work.)

Back to the important question, though: Regardless of how many you eat, is it OK to add ketchup? Here is my controversial opinion that will infuriate purists and inflame the condiment community for the rest of our lives:

Who cares?

It's certainly permissible in these parts. This week my grocery store had a big display of summer grilling staples, and ketchup was prominently featured, next to the hot dog buns.

You could, if you were from Chicago, say that the store was only catering to the debased tastes of the locals, but then I would ask why you had traveled a great distance to judge the condiment preferences of strangers. Look, pal: Just because some people like ketchup does not affect anyone else in the slightest. It's not as if there's some quantum entanglement at work, so that one person adding ketchup makes mustard disappear from a hot dog 400 miles away.

Personally, I'm a yellow mustard, white onions and sport-peppers man, but to each his own. If you want to bestow the dog with a crimson ribbon, I'm not going to slap you on the cheek with a glove and say, "Pistols at dawn, my good man."

That we reserve for those despicable freaks who choose mayo.