Hot dogs are a typical American food. They are commonly served by street vendors and at sporting events. Hot dogs have been popular for so long, that you’ll have to look pretty far back on the timeline to see who actually invented them.
1. What Is a Hot Dog?
About The Sausage
The hot dog we know and love today consists of a small cooked sausage inside of a bun. This sausage is either steamed or grilled. Grilling is the preferred method of cooking when it comes to outdoor picnics and barbecues.
The sausage inside of the bun is commonly referred to as the wiener or frank. These words come from German origins. Frankfurters have been served in Frankfurt, Germany, as far back as the 13th century. These days, in Germany, hot dogs are called Wiener Würstchen, which refers to “little sausage.”
The original German franks contained a mixture of pork and beef. In today’s American hot dogs, pork and beef reign supreme, but there are many filling alternatives. Chicken, turkey, and vegetable-based meat substitutes are also available.
2. History: Where Do Hot Dogs Come From?
It’s time to get to the meat of hot dog history. Hot dogs are a form of sausage and it’s important to understand the overall history.
The most commonly known story of ancient sausage consumption is the mention of blood sausage in Homer’s Odyssey. Other plays of ancient Greek and Roman origin also mention sausage and butchers selling sausages.
As word of this delicious new food spread, it settled into the hearts of Germans. Germans quickly fell in love with sausage and emulated the processes of the Mediterranean producers. Since then, sausage has taken many forms in German cuisine, and there are many different types of sausage prepared.
3. How Did Hot Dogs Get to America?
After the Revolutionary War, the New World was extremely attractive to people across the globe. Over a span of 50 years, more than 7.5 million immigrants flocked to the United States. One-third of these immigrants were Irish.
Another third of this immigrant population was German. Prior to a revolution in Germany in 1848, many German citizens faced economic problems. The United States was one of the few countries that would accept Germans. New York City, Baltimore, and St. Louis are three of the cities where German immigrants settled.
As immigrants settled in their new homes, they held on to many of their cultural traditions. For Germans, that meant producing, selling, and eating all types of sausage. Although it’s hard to pinpoint who exactly is responsible for the hot dog invention, all historians agree a German immigrant in the United States is to be credited.
4. First Men of Hot Dogs
Antoine Feuchtwanger is named as one of the pioneers of the American hot dog. He was selling them at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. For his customers to enjoy his steaming-hot sausages, he gave them white gloves. The gloves kept the consumers’ hands protected from the heat. Many people kept their gloves when they were done eating.
Spending money on gloves was beginning to cost Antoine. To counteract this loss, his wife suggested that he put the sausages in a roll. There weren’t many options for buns at the time, or any that would fit the long sausages. However, Antoine’s brother-in-law was a baker. The baker produced buns that were just long enough to hold the sausages, after which hot dogs began to sell like crazy.
Charles Feltman is the other proposed Father of Hot Dogs. Feltman immigrated to the United States at the age of 15. In his mid-twenties, he began operating a food cart on Coney Island in New York. In 1867, he had the idea of sticking a frankfurter into a bun and serving it to beach-goers. People loved these franks and Feltman called them Coney Island Red Hots.
A few years later, Charles opened his own restaurant, serving hot dogs and other dishes. The restaurant soon grew into a complex, including a biergarten and a carousel. In the 1920’s, the restaurant served over 5 million people a year.
Nathan Handwerker was a long time employee of Feltman. When he quit his job as a roll slicer to open his own hot dog operation, he sold his franks for half the price of Feltman’s. The Polish immigrant soon found success, with Nathan’s Famous still being a popular fast food chain across the United States. They’re also the proprietors of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest that has been held annually on Coney Island, NY since the 1970’s.
Hot dogs have been around for quite a while now, but they’re still extremely popular fast food. Nowadays, many people buy them in cans at their local supermarket and prepare them at home whenever they feel like a quick tasty snack. Hot dog restaurants and street carts can be found in almost every city.
If you feel like creating your own hotdogs at home, I’d advise this article. Many people collect a good amount of easy to use kitchen equipment, like mini waffle makers for example. In other words, preparing a quick snack is often just a matter of minutes. If you want to go the extra mile, go and check out my fast food decoration ideas. It’s a fun read!
Even though sausages have been around for a long time, adding a bun was the biggest step in regards to their development. I personally enjoy them once in a while. Usually I grab one from a street cart or at Sonic Drive-In. An easy and tasty way to keep on going, especially with mustard and/or onions. One of my other “favorite sandwiches” are the ones made by Subway (also read my Subway questions article).
Enjoy your hot dog!