One Busy Guy presents..

'As in the case of the first cheese, sometimes it's better not to know.'

The Hot Dog! 

Where would America be without the Hot Dog, the wiener, the red hot, the frankfurter, the ... well you know what I mean! Street vendors, back yard barbecues, and in every cinema the hot dog reins supreme. It may interest you to know that our modern 'dog' has quite a distinguished international heritage!

Apparently the first 'franks' are mentioned as early as Homer's 'the Iliad'. Legend has it that around 64 BC a pig was prepared for Emperor Nero. The cook slit open the cooked pig and much to his surprise discovered the intestines were all 'puffed up'. This being an innovative cook he proceeded to stuff the intestines with various meats, spices and grains. He then tied it off into sections and served the emperor.

Not surprisingly, and early on, the Catholic Church made eating of these wieners a sin. Even emperor Constantine (the first Christian emperor of Rome) upheld this dictum. The hot dog passes out of knowledge.

It is said that the hot dog re-appears in Frankfurt, Germany several years before Columbus' historic voyage, hence the term 'frankfurter'. However, Austria also lays claim to this invention citing the term 'wiener' as the German word for Vienna. 

By 1850 German butchers (led by a Mr. Johann Geurghehner) were producing a small sausage shaped slightly in a crescent which they likened to a dachshund. This they served with sauerkraut. 'Wiener' is the term known to New Yorkers in the late 19th century where it is said these were available from street vendors. Apparently it was a bit awkward to eat these creations since no one had thought to serve them in a bun (the bun was yet to be invented). That discovery was made in St. Louis by one Antonoine Feuchtwanger. Mr. Feuchtwanger began by loaning white gloves to his customers so the wiener didn't burn their fingers. Unfortunately most walked off with the gloves and so his profits tanked. It was his wife that contrived the soft, freshly baked bun and so began this story. He is also responsible for coining the phrase 'red hots'.

By the late 1890's this food had become popular at baseball parks in part because they were convenient to eat. Charles Feltman sold the first Coney Island Hot Dogs around 1900. Nathan and Ida Handwerker began selling their own version of the red hot in 1916, that being 'Nathan's Famous'. Another story relates the poor spelling capability of one Herald cartoonist (Thomas Dorgan) who could not spell Dachshund and referred to them simply as 'hot dogs'.

President Franklin and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt went on to serve Nathan's Famous to a visiting King George at their Hyde Park residence on June 11, 1939. When a  president starts a trend the nation is soon to follow. 

Today's hot dogs are both reviled and beloved. Wieners have often become the repository of meats leftover from other processes. We know that  manufacturers stilt their products with nitrates and preservatives of every kind.

Still other times we can't wait to top off a delicious all beef frank with catsup or mustard and onions on a soft, warm bun. Yum!

Wasn't this interesting?

                        Steve D

Back to the Summer page or click here for a little history of Beer!