Now that summer is in full swing and barbecue invitations are plentiful, I have to curb my penchant for hot dogs. You see, at a barbecue, I can easily scarf down three hotdogs, aside from chicken and a burger. I’m normally very careful about what I eat and try to limit my calories to 1000 or 1200 a day, but barbecues are my downfall, especially hot dogs. I try to reason with myself that it’s OK because I don’t eat the buns, but who am I kidding?
That said, I decided to research who invented hot dogs to begin with.
Sausage is one of the oldest processed foods, mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey back in the ninth century. Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, is traditionally credited with inventing the frankfurter. But, when further researched, there are those who insist that the 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. It’s thought that Georghehner later traveled to Frankfurt to promote his new product, and that the frankfurter was developed there in 1487.
The people of Vienna (Wien), Austria, for their part, point to the term “wiener” to prove that the hot dog originated there.
In Chicago 1847, the Colombian Exposition brought hordes of visitors who consumed large quantities of sausages sold by vendors. Many liked the food because it was convenient, inexpensive, and easy to eat. Hot dog historian Bruce Kraig, Ph.D., retired professor emeritus at Roosevelt University, says the Germans always ate the dachshund sausages with bread. Since sausage culture is German, it is likely that Germans introduced the practice of eating what we today know as the hot dog nestled in a bun.
But as with the hot dog, many disagree on the origin of the bun. Some say a German immigrant sold them, along with milk rolls and sauerkraut, from his pushcart on New York City’s Bowery during the 1860’s. In 1871, Charles Feltman, a German baker, opened the first Coney Island hot dog stand, selling 3,684 dachshund sausages and milk rolls in his first year.
Many historians disagree with the famous story that places the introduction of the hot dog bun during the St. Louis “Louisiana Purchase Exposition” in 1904. As the story goes, Bavarian concessionaire Anton Feuchtwanger loaned white gloves to his patrons to hold piping hot sausages. Because most of the gloves were not returned, supplies began running low. He reportedly asked his brother-in-law, a baker, for help. The baker improvised long, soft rolls that fit the meat.
Everyone wants to claim the bun as their own invention, but the most likely scenario is that the practice was handed down by German immigrants and gradually became widespread.
Another story that riles serious hot dog historians is the origin of the term “hot dog.” Some say the word was coined in 1901 at the New York Polo Grounds on a cold April day. Vendors hawked 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, 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, despite Dorgan’s enormous body of work and his popularity, historians have been unable to find this cartoon.
Kraig and other culinary historians point to college magazines where the phrase “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.
For those of who are vegan and want a hot dog that is not made from the typical meat-based ingredients, I searched the web and found this recipe, from BlacksGoingVegan.com
Best Vegan Carrot Dog Recipe Ever
• 8 to 10 organic carrots, resembling hot dogs in size and shape
• 2 cups of water
• 2 Tbsp. liquid smoke
• 1/4 cup Bragg’s Aminos or Tamari sauce
• 1 tsp. granulated garlic
• 1 tsp. kosher salt
• 1/4 cup low sodium vegetable, not-chicken broth, or water
• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
• Peel the carrots, shaping them with peeler to an even roundness. Trim the ends to fit your buns in length.
• Place about 2 cups of water in a skillet and heat to boiling; add carrots and cover, simmer along for 8 to 10 minutes or until carrots are fork tender. Do not overcook!
• While carrots are cooking, prepare your marinade by combining ingredients into a small bowl.
• When carrots have cooked sufficiently, immediately pour contents of pot into a colander and drain, then run cold water over carrots to stop the cooking process.
• Place carrots in an airtight container large enough for all the carrots to lay flat (a zip style plastic freezer bag also works well). Place in refrigerator and allow carrots to marinate for 6 to 24 hours.
• Place carrots and a few tablespoons of marinade in a hot non-stick skillet, and cook, allowing marinade to caramelize the carrots and create a nice brown exterior coating.
• If you prefer, you can bake the carrot dogs in their marinade for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees, turning halfway through to brown evenly. OR you can grill them over low coals.
Serve with your favorite sides and toppings.