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NEC Spotlight October 3rd, 2022
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150 Million Hot Dogs

Posted by on June 30th, 2017 Posted in: Blog

150 million hot dogs. That’s the number of hotdogs that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates we will eat on the 4th of July. Can you imagine that? It’s probably hard to visualize all those hot dogs piled up in your mind. Is that a lot of hot dogs? Hard to tell.

A Chicago-style hot dog, the author's preferred style.

What if, instead of just a number, I wrote this: On Independence Day, Americans will enjoy 150 million hot dogs, enough to stretch from D.C. to L.A. more than five times. This sentence gives you a clearer picture of the amount of hog dogs we will all eat. As someone who just recently road tripped across America, I can tell you- that’s a lot! This statistic got us at NEO thinking about how we conceptualize numbers and statistics in evaluation, and the power of a well thought out visualization.

While thinking about conceptualizing stats and numbers, I found this website called The Measure of Things. It’s a site that can help you conceptualize measurements. Did you know that a parking space is about 14 times larger than a bath towel? Or that a 32 GB iPhone can hold 7 times as much as a DVD, but only about two third of a standard dual-layer Blu-ray Disc? There is even a sister site, called The Count of Things, that does the same with numbers. Did you know that 42 is 9/10ths the number of teeth in a great white shark’s mouth? I’m unsure when I will ever use these specific measurements in my life (other than trivia night), but it puts these numbers and statistics into a context and perspective that are new to me.

I might not need to know parking spot to bath towel ratios in my daily life, so here are a couple of examples of NEO blog and social media statistics:

Next time you analyze evaluation data, I challenge you to think of a new way to visualize your data through comparison. Think about how people will approach your data. Do they have the right context? Or should you provide some background for your results to make sense?

I hope you all enjoy a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

Photo credit: By arnold inuyaki / Arnold Gatilao [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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