Hot Dog History | NHDSC (2024)

Dachshunds, Dog Wagons and Other Important Elements of Hot Dog History

Sausage is one of the oldest forms of processed food, having been mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as far back as the 9th Century B.C.

Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, is traditionally credited with originating the frankfurter. However, this claim is disputed by those who assert that the popular sausage - known as a "dachshund" or "little-dog" sausage - was created in the late 1600's by Johann Georghehner, a butcher, living in Coburg, Germany. According to this report, Georghehner later traveled to Frankfurt to promote his new product.

In 1987, the city of Frankfurt celebrated the 500th birthday of the hot dog in that city.

It's said that the frankfurter was developed there in 1487, five years before Christopher Columbus set sail for the new world. The people of Vienna (Wien), Austria, point to the term "wiener" to prove their claim as the birthplace of the hot dog. As it turns out, it is likely that the North American hot dog comes from a widespread common European sausage brought here by butchers of several nationalities. Also in doubt is who first served the dachshund sausage with a roll. One report says a German immigrant sold them, along with milk rolls and sauerkraut, from a push cart in New York City's Bowery during the 1860's. In 1871, Charles Feltman, a German baker opened up the first Coney Island hot dog stand selling 3,684 dachshund sausages in a milk roll during his first year in business.

The year 1893 was an important date in hot dog history.

In Chicago that year, the Colombian Exposition brought hordes of visitors who consumed large quantities of sausages sold by vendors. People liked this food that was easy to eat, convenient and inexpensive. Hot dog historian Bruce Kraig, Ph.D., retired professor emeritus at Roosevelt University, says the Germans always ate the dachshund sausages with bread. Since the sausage culture is German, it is likely that Germans introduced the practice of eating the dachshund sausages, which we today know as the hot dog, nestled in a bun.

Standard fare at baseball parks.

Also in 1893, sausages became the standard fare at baseball parks. This tradition is believed to have been started by a St. Louis bar owner, Chris Von de Ahe, a German immigrant who also owned the St. Louis Browns major league baseball team.

Inventing the hot dog bun.

Many hot dog historians chafe at the suggestion that today's hot dog on a bun was introduced during the St. Louis "Louisiana Purchase Exposition" in 1904 by Bavarian concessionaire, Anton Feuchtwanger. As the story goes, he loaned white gloves to his patrons to hold his piping hot sausages. Because most of the gloves were not returned, the supply began running low. He reportedly asked his brother-in-law, a baker, for help. The baker improvised long soft rolls that fit the meat - thus inventing the hot dog bun.

Kraig can’t quite swallow that tale and says everyone wants to claim the hot dog bun as their own invention, but the most likely scenario is the practice was handed down by German immigrants and gradually became widespread in American culture.

How term "hot dog" came about.

Another story that riles serious hot dog historians is how term "hot dog" came about. Some say the word was coined in 1901 at the New York Polo Grounds on a cold April day. Vendors were hawking hot dogs from portable hot water tanks shouting "They're red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they're red hot!" A New York Journal sports cartoonist, Tad Dorgan, observed the scene and hastily drew a cartoon of barking dachshund sausages nestled warmly in rolls. Not sure how to spell "dachshund" he simply wrote "hot dog!" The cartoon is said to have been a sensation, thus coining the term "hot dog." However, historians have been unable to find this cartoon, despite Dorgan's enormous body of work and his popularity.

Kraig, and other culinary historians, point to college magazines where the word "hot dog" began appearing in the 1890s. The term was current at Yale in the fall of 1894, when "dog wagons" sold hot dogs at the dorms. The name was a sarcastic comment on the provenance of the meat. References to dachshund sausages and ultimately hot dogs can be traced to German immigrants in the 1800s. These immigrants brought not only sausages to America, but dachshund dogs. The name most likely began as a joke about the Germans' small, long, thin dogs. In fact, even Germans called the frankfurter a "little-dog" or "dachshund" sausage, thus linking the word "dog" to their popular concoction.

Hot Dog History | NHDSC (2024)


Who invented the hot dog? ›

The hot dog popular today was invented somewhere in Europe, but the exact time and place is still debated. The people of Frankfurt, Germany, claim it was invented there in 1487, which is where the name frankfurter comes from. Another story claims they were invented by a butcher who lived in Coburg, Germany.

Why do they call it hot dog? ›

The name most likely began as a joke about the Germans' small, long, thin dogs. In fact, even Germans called the frankfurter a "little-dog" or "dachshund" sausage, thus linking the word "dog" to their popular concoction.

Did hot dogs originate from Chicago? ›

The hot dog arrived in Chicago through Frankfurt from Vienna. Pork sausages have been known in Frankfurt since the 13th century. Sometime in the 19th century a butcher in Vienna added beef to the sausage mixture. He called this a "wiener-frankfurter".

Why is it called a coney dog? ›

As one story goes, Greek immigrants passing through New York and its famed Coney Island, appropriated the Coney Island name for their Coney dog version. While no one place can definitively claim to be the birthplace of the Coney dog, Michigan, by sheer volume and duration of its Coney restaurants, makes a strong bid.

What was the old name for hot dogs? ›

The word frankfurter comes from Frankfurt, Germany, where pork sausages similar to hot dogs originated. These sausages, Frankfurter Würstchen, were known since the 13th century and given to the people on the event of imperial coronations, starting with the coronation of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, as King.

What is the birthplace of the hot dog? ›

hot dog, sausage, of disputed but probable German origin, that has become internationally popular, especially in the United States. Two European cities claim to be the birthplace of the sausage: Frankfurt, Germany, whence the byname frankfurter, and Vienna, Austria, whence the byname wiener.

Why are hot dogs unhealthy? ›

If a hot dog's ingredients don't faze you, perhaps its sodium levels should. A single frank contains nearly a quarter of your daily recommended salt intake. Hot dogs are high in calories and fat, too, and have been linked to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Why is a hot dog called a glizzy? ›

With roots in the rap world, a glizzy is slang for a Glock handgun. The evolution of the word to include hotdog. comes from the extended magazine of a pistol, which is about the length of a hotdog.

What is the nickname for a hot dog? ›

hot dog
  • dog.
  • footlong.
  • frank.
  • Georgia hot.
  • pigs in a blanket.
  • redhot.
  • weenie.
  • wiener.

Why is there no ketchup on Chicago hot dogs? ›

A newspaper column from 1991 claimed "ketchup smothers the flavor of the hot dog because ketchup makers add sugar to their products."In other words, ketchup would mask the rest of what we have going on.

What ethnicity is hot dogs? ›

The Austrian origin story contends that “wieners” were invented in the 19th century by Austro-Hungarians Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany, who brought these tasty meat parcels to The World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. Throngs of fairgoers helped to popularize hot dogs as the ideal portable meal.

What is a Detroit dog? ›

The Detroit-style Coney dog is defined by its natural casing hot dog that is topped with beef heart chili, yellow mustard, and diced onions. ‍ In contrast, the Flint-style Coney dog features a dry or loose beef topped hotdog with mustard and onion.

What is the most common condiment on a hot dog? ›

However, we say: “You do you!” Whatever suits your taste buds and makes you smile, is fine by us. According to a recent survey, mustard is the most popular hot dog topping among Americans (68%), followed by ketchup (61%) and mayonnaise (19%).

What's the difference between a hot dog and a coney? ›

They might seem like different names for the same style of hot dog, but Coney Island dogs are smothered with a meat sauce that's not exactly chili—plus onions and yellow mustard. Chili dogs can be topped with meat and bean chili as well as cheese or cheese sauce.

Did Nathan's invent the hot dog? ›

Nathan Handwecker didn't invent the hot dog, much less the sausage, but he did create an American institution a century ago. This video from the Wall Street Journal tells the story of Nathan's Famous hot dogs, which have evolved from a Coney Island specialty to a household name in the United States.

Who is the founder of the original hot dog factory? ›

It's been a busy decade for The Original Hot Dog Factory, the casual eatery Dennis McKinley opened back in 2010 and which rebranded in 2015.

Why are hot dogs called glizzys? ›

With roots in the rap world, a glizzy is slang for a Glock handgun. The evolution of the word to include hotdog. comes from the extended magazine of a pistol, which is about the length of a hotdog.

Who invented the Italian hot dog? ›

James "Buff" Racioppi, founder of Jimmy Buff's in Newark, New Jersey, invented the Italian hot dog in 1932. The hot dog while indeed was invented by Jimmy Buff, his, Mary Racioppi first made the dish.

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