Do Malaysians Want To Rename Their Favourite Hotdog?

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Bernama’s correspondent in Singapore Massita Ahmad shares her take across the Causeway.

SINGAPORE – They come in red or even brown hues, made from meat, provide 210 kilocalorie per serving, preferably served hot and they recently raised eyebrows in Malaysia.

Do you know what are they? The thing that I’m talking about goes by many names – frankfurters, franks, wieners, weenies, tube steak, sausage but almost everyone knows them as the delicious ‘hotdog’.

The hotdog has been in Malaysia for decades now and sold by the fast food outlets and vendors across the country while the raw hotdogs – frankfurters or sausages – are easily available at the convenience stores or supermarkets.

However, recently a popular pretzel chain Auntie Anne was denied halal certification by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) for some shortcomings including the name of one of its offerings “Pretzel Dog” and this got many worked up.

Though hotdogs have nothing to do with dogs, an animal to be avoided in Islam, JAKIM feared that the mere presence of the animal’s name might be confusing to the Muslims.

It was reported that JAKIM is set to start a step-by-step name change for hot dogs all across Malaysia when street vendors and restaurants selling them apply or renew their halal certification, causing further consternation.

So are Malaysians ready to see their favourite hotdog called something else?

Following the furore over the name change requirement, YouGov, a leading global market research firm decided to check whether the name change will make a difference. The firm conducted a four-day online survey on Malaysians from Oct 21, 2016 to see if renaming the hotdogs would make a difference, and if so what would be the new name.

The study involved 941 Malaysians, of which 53 percent were men and 47 percent women with 60 percent of the respondents being Muslims.

So do Malaysians really care about renaming hotdogs? Interestingly, almost 60 percent of the respondents think the move is not going to make any difference.

43 percent of the respondents said “no, not at all” while 16 percent said “no, not really” while only 8 percent said changing the name would definitely make a difference.

Even if Malaysians are to rename their favourite hotdog, what will be the new name? More than half of the respondents preferred to simply call it ‘sausages’, followed by ‘Pretzel Sausages’ and ‘Frankfurters’.

Interestingly, the study also revealed the most popular dressings or accompaniments in savouring hotdogs in Malaysia. Seven out of 10 respondents chose chili sauce as their favorite hotdog accompaniment followed by cheese, mayonnaise, mustard and finally onions.

The study also revealed the Muslim dining trends with nine out of every 10 Muslim respondents saying they would only patronise Halal certified restaurants.

This clearly indicated the importance of Halal certification when it comes to attracting Muslim customers.

In terms of whether Muslims feel that there are enough Halal certified restaurants in Malaysia, the results show that 71 percent felt that there were already enough Halal certified restaurants in the country while some felt there could be more.

Though the hotdog episode in Malaysia may have raised eyebrows, even across the Causeway, the study has made many interesting revelations. I’m still waiting to see if my favourite hotdog will have a new name soon. – BERNAMA