What are the best Steven Hotdog essays?
April 18, 2021 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Looking for great examples of essays that position historical, scientific, etc. factual research alongside personal narrative to illuminate both through analogy.

For a class I'm putting together, I need examples of your favorite personal writing that follows the form described in this tweet:
Creative nonfiction writers be like:

I first ate a hotdog when I was six years old. I remember the taste, the scent, the summer.


Hot dogs were invented in 1693 by Steven Hotdog. According to Scientific American, the hotdog is
Lots of essays do this, many of them badly. The idea behind "best" here is that in the process of tracing both their personal memory of hot dogs and the story of Steven Hotdog inventing the hot dog, the writer manages to illuminate both something about themselves and something about hot dogs (likely by drawing out a common thread—like, say, traits/materials considered "useless" in isolation that are reconstituted into a beloved amalgam).

I'm at a pretty early stage of designing this syllabus, so if this puts you in mind of a piece of writing you love that's not quite in this format, please drop it here—it might still inspire something! The analogy aspect is the important part.
posted by babelfish to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
After Oranges by Wyatt Williams, which is sort of a meta example since it discusses another great piece, Oranges by John McPhee. Not sure if it does what you need, but I like it!
posted by papayaninja at 12:32 PM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’ve seen this sort of essay called a braided essay or braid. I can’t think of a good example from my own reading at the moment, but searching “braided essay” will give you lots of essays of this type listed in syllabi or mentioned by people discussing the style. Perhaps that will jog your memory for some ripe examples. JoAnn Beard’s Fourth State of Matter seems to be quite popular.
posted by reren at 8:59 PM on April 18, 2021

This article is about a children's book (Let's Kill Uncle) rather than historical or scientific research, but is one of my favorite examples of what (I think) you're describing.
posted by taltalim at 12:30 PM on April 20, 2021

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