Why is a frankfurter in a bun called a hot dog? I have been able to find two explanations, one true and one blatantly false, and as is so often is the case the false one is by far the more interesting. So let's start with that one:


The first person to sell frankfurters in a bun was Harry Stevens, who owned a concession in the early 1900s at New York's Polo Grounds, the home of the New York Giants. T. A. Dorgan, a popular cartoonist on the New York Journal, drew a cartoon about them, in which he depicted them as dachshunds in buns. Since he wasn't sure how to spell frankfurter, he referred to them as hot dogs, and the name caught on.

True but fairly boring

The first recorded use of the phrase is actually in 1895. Yale University students used to refer to wagons selling hot frankfurters in buns as dog wagons and called the sausages 'dogs', probably as a result of conjecture as to the exact nature of the meat used in them (one of the wagons at Yale was actually nicknamed "The Kennel Club"). By 1895 they were known by the now-familiar name of hot dogs. The October 19 issue of the Yale Record contained an article which ended, "They contentedly munched hot dogs during the whole service".

Update, May 1 2003
Tem42 adds, "Recently the story you hear is that Frankfurters were renamed as hot dogs because during WWI it was popular to replace German sounding words with more English sounding ones. Even if that wasn't the true origin on the word, that may be what put it into popular use."

Main source:

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council of the United States of America, there are several contenders for the invention and popularisation of the hot dog:

The year is 1860. A German immigrant is known to have been selling frankfurters with sauerkraut in milk rolls from a push cart in New York City's Bowery.

The year is 1871. German butcher Charles Feltman opened a hot dog stand in New York City's Coney Island. He reported selling 3684 "daschund sausages in milk rolls" in his first year's business.

The year is 1893. The Colombian Exposition in Chicago introduced scores of thousands of visitors to frankfurters in milk rolls.

In the same year (1893) Chris Von de Ahe, who owned the St. Louis Browns major league baseball team introduced the convenient snack at his team's home ground.

The year is 1901. The Bavarian concessionaire Herr Anton Feuchtwanger retailed frankfurter sausages at the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition, loaning his customers white gloves to hold the hot smallgoods. When many gloves were not returned, he turned to his brother-in-law, a baker, to supply a new type of long bread roll. The hot dog bun was born.

research source: The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council

Perhaps hot dogs are different than a hot dog. You don't grow up eating a hot dog, but you grow up eating hot dogs. There is a difference.

When I was a kid, there was always a package of them in the refrigerator. Mom would cut slots in them and microwave them for lunch in the summer, when all we did was lounge around the house and swim in the pool and play our games all day. And yes, I went through a phase where I thought they gave me headaches. And actually, they did, because they're very high in sodium, and if you are eating a lot of salt and also a lot of hot dogs, you're bound to feel sick at some point. I guess I figured out how to eat well somewhere along the timeline, because it doesn't bother me anymore.

I can't count them all. When I was in pre-school, they would serve half- hot dogs without any ketchup, on a half-bun (with badly-heated canned corn and generic fruit cocktail). They were served occasionally for elementary school lunch, whether I brought it from home or bought it for 80¢. At least Ada Lineweaver Elementary School had ketchup and mustard on the table. My grandmother baby-sat me a couple of times and she boiled them -- how I hated that! I'm not sure how, but it was definitely different. My father occasionally grilled them on the tiny gas grill we had, but that was very rare and probably not appreciated. To this day, the tastiest way to make hot dogs for me is to microwave them. One for 45 seconds, two for 1:30. I later found out that it didn't matter, because they were already cooked. My friends used to harass me for eating them "raw" -- they taste strange that way, not because of a cooking issue with the meat, but because all the grease is coagulated.

The hot dog stand, as famous an American institution as it is, was never a part of my life. I've eaten two, maybe three hot dogs from hot dog stands, total. I didn't discover sauerkraut until I saw it in the store and wondered what it was. Pickle relish was for making tuna salad. Chopped onions were for creamed hamburger.

This is what I can call American food. It is culturally important to me. Americans tend to lose their cultural perspective, because the history, economics, and politics of the United States encourage Americans to think of themselves as individuals, with no group identity and no unity. America is so heterogenous, especially in my quarter, that we don't really consider Chinese, Indian, or Mexican cuisine to be "foreign" -- we're all sharing this space, and your food is welcome. The hot dog, not surprisingly, was neither invented nor significantly altered by Americans, but it doesn't matter. And contrary to popular rumor, hot dogs contain nothing yucky or weird -- the FDA doesn't allow it. It's decent meat, if odd-tasting, bland, and not very good for you.

I'm having a hot dog crisis.

I'm particular about my hot dogs, probably because I grew up eating them in the cradle (or bun, if you'd like to stretch the metaphor to a sadistic level) of hot dog civilization. Hot dogs should be grilled or broiled, not boiled or microwaved. They should be topped with mustard and/or sauerkraut, or relish, or sweet onion sauce. No ketchup, ever, unless you're twelve years old. Chili cheese dogs are allowed on the way to (or from) drinking. They should always be slightly longer than the bun, and they should never cost more than a buck fifty. These are my rules, and they work for me, but they are all second to the one, true rule:

Hot dogs should have skins. SKINS. Casings. Intestines. The tube part of tube meat. Casings give the dogs some resistance to the teeth, makes 'em fight a little, and gives them a completely different texture. If I'm eating hot dogs without skins I might as well be eating tofu for all the difference it makes.

Finding honest-to-god real hot dogs shouldn't be a problem here, but it is. Most of the major hot dog manufactures (Sabrett, Boar's Head and Nathan's being the only three acceptable ones) make both cased and skinless versions, but for some stupid reason most New York City grocery stores adamantly refuse to carry the skinned ones and when they do they charge a (relative) bounty for them - twelve ounces of skinned dogs for six bucks versus sixteen ounces of skinless for four - as if they had to be hunted through the streets of Coney Island and shot rather than being pressed out of a diabolic, beef-filled machine.

It shouldn't be so difficult, but it is. I mean, is it really so much to ask that beef and beef flavoring injected into pig intestines be readily available and cheap?

Hot Dog is also the name of the cartoon pooch owned by Jughead Jones.

In 1968, Archie and the perpetual teens from Riverdale had their first opportunity at television. The rather flat Filmation series, buoyed by Don Kirschner-produced pop tunes, became a hit. Its versions of the characters would appear in several spin-offs through to the late 70s, and on a series of kiddie-oriented pop albums. The show also established Hot Dog as a member of the gang.

Filmation had specifically requested a dog character be added to Archie's inner circle. We don't know the exact reasoning1, but Archie comics happily introduced the pooch in Pep #224. Communication between the studio and the comic company appears to have been poor, because Hot Dog clearly belongs to Archie in his debut. In the series and in all subsequent comic books, he is definitely Jughead's dog.

Much of the tv show's attempts at humour came from Hot Dog's reflected asides and quips about the teen antics. So important was he to the show that the large white sheep dog often turned up at Riverdale High and stowed away on class trips. His prominence in the comic books varies over time. Like many comic-book and kiddie-media pets, he disappears and reappears as the plot requires.

In 1990, he received a series of his own which lasted five issues. In addition to the predictable doggy adventures, he received a Dilton Doiley-built techno-doghouse and met canine space adventurers, the Astro-Mutts. They awarded him with an even fancier dwelling which, TARDIS-like, was bigger within than without. Like the existence of spell-casting witches and superhero Archie alter-egos, these fantastic matters have no impact on the more typical Riverdale stories.

Hot Dog has survived and, while he never proved as popular as Snoopy or Scooby-Doo, he has managed to be more than a Poochie.

1. Scooby-doo, which premiered the following year, had been pitched as a show about mystery-solving teens, and only in development did the cowardly great dane take center stage. Clearly, someone thought dogs sold kiddie shows. The inspiration may have been Charles M. Schulz. By the late 60s, Peanuts had developed into a cultural phenomenon. Kids and adults read the strip, intellectuals commented on it, and merchandisers cashed in. Snoopy had grown from a bit-part player to top dog, so far as marketers were concerned, and possibly Archie Comics and Filmation had hopes that Hot Dog would follow the beagle's lead.

"Alternate Universes in Archie Comics." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_Universes_in_Archie_Comics

"Did You Know?" Archives, November 2000. Archie Comics Online. http://www.archiecomics.com/acpaco/diduknow/diduknow_november.htm

"Jughead Jones." Wikipedia.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jughead_Jones

The late 60s Archie Show, which I watched as a kid. I recently saw a few reruns. It's really, really bad.

The Gas Station/7-Eleven Hot Dog

Also known as the "24-hour dog", this cylindrical meat byproduct resembling a hot dog has been put under much scrutiny over the years (nowadays, however, 7-11 officially uses Oscar Meyer so that might alleviate some fears). Recently, I decided to buy one of these out of sheer boredom - a simple, $1.39 Big Bite from my friendly neighborhood 7-11 (coupled, of course, with a Vanilla/Coke Slurpee - no, not Vanilla Coke, 2 different flavors). With a little bit of fear, I slathered some onions, mustard, and chili sauce on my "Fresh-off-the-Grill" sausage.

Settling in a nearby parking lot, I took a bite out of my beautifully greasy meat stick.
It was absolutely disgusting.
But damn tasty.

The dog itself provided little to no resistance when you bit into it, the bun was stale, and the onions may or may not have actually been onions. But it was strangely satisfying. Perhaps it's the rejection of everything my body tells me to do to function as a human being. Maybe putting chili - or, at least semi-chili - on anything will make it good. But whatever it was, I'm afraid to admit it but I want another.

When I mentioned my problems with this 24-hour dog to my friend, he said "Oh, you must've gotten one from this morning. The afternoon ones are a lot better." He also mentioned he used to eat 7-11 hot dogs all the time... suspiciously, all he purchased was a Reese's candy bar and a giant cup of Mountain Dew. I wonder what made him quit.

Something else I thought was worth noting: it is an unquestionable fact that all convenience store/gas station hot dogs have been on the grill for days/weeks/decades. But these things sell fast! In the time I was in the store at least 3 were sold. So that's just a lie.

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