From the bustling corners of city streets to the sizzling grills at home barbecues, hot dogs are a beloved comfort food all over the globe. The classic American-style hot dog smothered in mustard sauce is a timeless delight, but other variations like the Mexican bacon hot dogs also tempt us. Even if you haven’t tried all or none of these hot dog varieties, one question must have certainly popped up in your mind – why is a hot dog called a hot dog? First, let’s make it clear once and for all. A hot dog doesn’t contain dogs. The sausages are made of meats like pork, chicken, and turkey. So if there’s no dog, then why the gross name?
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A Hot Bite Into History: How Hot Dog Originated
To understand the etymology of the term “hot dog,” we need to travel back to the streets of New York City in the late 19th century. Around this time, German immigrants brought with them a rich culinary tradition, including sausages, also known as “frankfurters” or “wieners,” named after the cities of their origin – Frankfurt and Vienna. These sausages were a hit among the working-class population, quickly becoming a popular street food. Eventually, people started eating the sausages stuffed inside buns, and the hot dog was born.
While there are multiple theories regarding the origin of the sausage, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council states that the sausage, known as a “dachshund,” was created by a butcher called Johann Georghehner in the late 1600s in Germany. Georghehner later travelled to Frankfurt and promoted his new invention.
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How Hot Dog Got Its Strange Name
Surprise, surprise! The nomenclature indeed has a connection to the dog. As per the legend, some of the sausage varieties sold by German immigrant butchers in the United States were thin and long and resembled the dog breed dachshund. And the sausages began to be called ‘dachshund sausages.’ The snack served with buns became the standard treat served at baseball parks. Tad Dorgan, a cartoonist, and journalist was once covering a baseball game at the Polo Grounds in New York City. He started to draw a cartoon of a vendor’s stall, along with the dachshund-shaped sausages in a roll, which were being called hot dachshund sausages/sandwiches. Now, here comes the twist. Tad was uncertain how to spell “dachshund” correctly, so instead, he scribbled “hot dog” in the cartoon. And soon, the quirky name for the popular snack caught on.
While the term “hot dog” took off like wildfire, it also sparked debates and confusion. Some claimed that it was disrespectful to refer to such a delicious delicacy as a “dog,” and others argued that it was a playful homage to the dachshund-shaped sausages themselves. Despite the initial controversies, the name stuck, and hot dog became an integral part of the American culinary landscape.