One Bite at a Time: Payroll Explained Through Hotdogs

July 15, 2021

In honor of National Hotdog Month, here is payroll explained through hotdogs. Bon appetite!

Photo of a long hotdog in a short bun with a red backdrop.

Billions of Weenies

Guess what month it is?  If you said July, you are right!  If you said National Hotdog Month, you are also right!  Each year, Americans consume an estimated 20 billion hotdogs, which breaks down to about 70 hotdogs per person.  Clearly, Americans love a good hotdog.  Whether you’re at the ballpark or just grillin’ in the backyard, hotdogs are a likely staple. 

But Journey is a payroll company, so what does this have to do with hotdogs?  Great question!  Well, like hotdogs, Americans also love payroll! Thus, we are going to explain payroll through hotdogs.  After all, it’s easier to understand something by way of something we already understand well.  So, grab a plate, and let’s dig in!

Hotdog Components

Now, I know you are chomping at the bit to hear how we can explain payroll with a hotdog.  To get those digestive juices flowing, let’s do a little rundown of the standard hotdog components:

  • weenie = workforce
  • bun = taxes
  • ketchup and mustard = wages
  • relish = deductions
  • chili = attendance and accruals tracking

Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine is, and I want more!

The Weenie

The most important part of the hotdog is clearly the weenie.  Without it, the hotdog would basically be a lonely piece of bread.  So, if you’re gonna have a hotdog, you’ve gotta have a weenie.

How is the weenie like your workforce?  Well, it’s where it all starts!  You’re not going to get into employee taxes without employees to pay, right?  Thus, the first thing you need to do is identify how many workers you have, and the types of workers they are.  Are you only paying subcontractors or freelancers?  Okay!  Then no payroll taxes are necessary.  However, if you have any employees, you need to be thinking about the bun—AKA: taxes.

The Bun

Photo of empty hotdog buns with lettuce in them.

While some people think it’s cool to go carb-less, let’s be honest—it’s very un-American to eat a hotdog without a bun.  Even dipping it in cornbread batter and frying it is better than chomping into a naked dog, or—gasp—eating it with a knife and fork!  That’s just way too classy for this casual finger food. 

Related:  Financial Restructuring for Business Success

Likewise, don’t try to do the skinny when it comes to payroll taxes.  If you have W-2 employees, you need to make sure you are withholding and paying payroll taxes on their behalf.  In other words, put ‘em in a bun!  Furthermore, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right-sized bun.  You can’t have that weenie hanging two inches out either side of the bun, and you don’t want a bun that hides the whole weenie.  Similarly, you don’t want to under or overpay taxes.  You should supply employees with Form W-4 to make sure you get it right.

Ketchup and Mustard

Now, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat a hotdog without condiments.  Even so, hotdogs just taste better with a little kick.  Whether it’s sweet or tangy, condiments can certainly sweeten the pot—or the dog, in this case.

You can also do payroll without paying employees anything more than straight time.  However, just as some people won’t eat a hotdog without ketchup and/or mustard, some people won’t work for you unless they have the opportunity to earn overtime, commissions, or bonuses.  So, consider your compensation structure as you are setting up your payment options. 

With Relish

Photo of four hotdogs on a red plaid towel with different types of relish.

Another condiment Americans love is relish.  Relish comes in all different forms:  pickle relish, onion relish, chowchow, and sauerkraut, to name a few.  Relish is the texture and zest on the hotdog. 

Comparatively, deductions are the relish of payroll.  Deductions mean employees are getting something more than just their wages.  They may have health insurance premiums that could be pretax deductions.  Along with health insurance premiums, they might fund an FSA or HSA through payroll.  Or, they could have deductions for contributions to a company 401k or other retirement account. 

So, the question is, “How do you like your payroll?”  The most popular answer, “With relish!”


Now, chili is the addon that very much changes the hotdog.  How so?  Well, because it’s not just a condiment.  In fact, it can be a meal all on its own.  But put it on a hotdog, and you’re taking that fare to a whole new level—the chilidog!

Related:  The Guts of Workers' Compensation: How to Calculate Your Payment

Likewise, attendance and accruals tracking can be handled separately from payroll.  However, when they are tracked and included with payroll, it makes for a more robust and comprehensive package.  This way, employees can have their most current accruals along with their paycheck—they’ll appear right on the paystub.  It’s like having your cake—er, chilidog—and eating it, too!

Have It Your Way

Photo of a sign with the words "Build your own" and pictures of different kinds of hotdogs and toppings.

To summarize the comparison between payroll and hotdogs, suffice it to say with both you can have it your way.  The beauty of modern technology is that like your hotdogs, you can truly customize your payroll, as well.  Want a gluten-free weenie and bun?  Done!  Want your weenie meatless?  One veggie dog, coming right up! 

Likewise, you can opt in or out of just about any aspect of payroll processing.  Do you want everything automated and hands-off?  You got it!  Do you prefer everything to be paperless?  No problem!

Digesting It All

See?  Hotdogs and payroll have more in common than you could have imagined!  While the weenie is certainly the most important aspect, the bun, condiments, and addons complete the package.  The best part is, whether it’s a hotdog or payroll, you can very much personalize it.  Lastly, like consuming hotdogs you probably shouldn’t be processing payroll more often than once per week.  Still, it’s nice to know both are available at your fingertips in a pinch. Bon appetit!

Photo of a hotdog stand with neon lights.

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