Hot Dogs - History and Legends of Hot Dogs
© copyright 2004 by Linda Stradley - United States Copyright TX 5-900-517- All rights reserved. This web site may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission and appropriate credit given. If you quote any of the history information contained below for research in writing a magazine or newspaper article, school work or college research, and/or television show production, you must give a reference to the author, Linda Stradley, and to the web site What's Cooking America.
Hot dogs are among
America's favorite foods. Every year, Americans consume on average
60 hot dogs! Hot dogs are primarily regarded as a fun, summertime
food, and most are eaten between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
850 - Sausage is one of the oldest forms of processed food, having been mentioned in Homer's Odyssey (an ancient Greek tale of adventure and heroism). Following is the line from the book:
1st Century A.D.
64 - Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar's (54-68) cook, Gaius, is often credited with discovering the first sausage. It was the custom of the time to starve the pigs one week before cooking and eating them. According to legend, one pig was brought out well roasted, but it was noticed that somehow it had not been cleaned. Cook Gaius ran a knife into its belly to see if the pig was fit to eat. To his surprise, out popped the intestines and they were all puffed up and hollow. It was reported that he said, "I have discovered something of great importance." Gaius stuffed the intestines with ground venison and ground beef mixed with cooked ground wheat and spices. He ties them into sections and the wiener was born.
Stephen C. Carlson, a Bible Scholar, from his Sketches in Biblical Studies web site, sent me the following on sausages. Stephen says, "One piece of trivia I came across is that apparently the first person to mention a string of sausages is Leontius of Neapolis, Cyprus, in the 7th century, in his book, The Life and Miracles of Symeon the Fool, English translation by Derek Krueger."
1690s - Another legend is that the popular sausage (known as "dachshund" or "little-dog" sausage) was created in the late 1600s by Johann Georghehner, a butcher living in Coburg, Germany. It is said that he later traveled to Frankfurt to promote his new product.
- It is said that the frankfurter was developed in Frankfurt, Germany (five
years before Christopher Columbus set sail for the new world). In 1987, the
city of Frankfurt celebrated the 500th birthday of the hot dog. In the
1850s, the Germans made thick, soft, and fatty sausages from which we get
the fame "franks."
1805 - The people of Vienna (Wien), Austria point to the term "wiener" to prove their claim as the birthplace of the hot dog. It is said that the master sausage maker who made the first wiener got his early training in Frankfurt, Germany. He called his sausage the "wiener-frankfurter." But it was generally known as "wienerwurst." The wiener comes from Wien (the German name of Vienna) and wurst means sausage in German.
Also in doubt is who first served the first hot dog! Wieners and frankfurters don't become hot dogs until someone puts them in a roll or a bun. There are several stories or legends as to how this first happened. As the cuisine of Germany relies heavily upon sausages of all shapes and sizes, it stands to reason that the German people would bring these sausages with them to America.
German immigrants appear to have sold hot dogs, along with milk rolls and sauerkraut, from pushcarts in New York City's Bowery during the 1860s.
1867 - Charles Feltman (1841-1910), a German baker, opened up the first Coney Island hot dog stand in Brooklyn, New York. Some historical accounts say he was a butcher, but according to his great grandson, he was a baker.
Early 1900s - The hard-working Feltman built a mini-empire at Surf Ave. and 10 street that covered a full city block and consisted of 9 restaurants, a hotel, beer gardens, restaurants, food stands, a bathhouse, a pavillion, a Tyrolean village, and various rides to amuse his customers. The Depression in the 1930's began the decline of Feltman's business. Visitors to Coney Island could barely afford the subway ride yet alone a sit down meal at Feltman's. At his death in 1910, he left a business worth over one million dollars which all started with selling hot dogs. By the 1920s Feltman's Ocean Pavilion was serving five million customers a year and was billed as the world's largest restaurant.
1952 - When the restaurant folded in 1954, the Albert family partnership bought the property and leased it out as Feltmans Astro Park. By the time it opened to the public, in the summer of 1962, it had become the space-age Astroland Park.
Nathan's - Coney Island, New York:
1915 - Nathan Handwerker (1892-1974), a Jewish immigrant from Poland, went to work for Feltman. Handwerker’s job was slicing hot dog rolls and delivering the franks to the guys who toiled at the grilling stations. It is said that he young lived on free hot dogs and slept on the kitchen floor to save his $11 per week salary. At the end of the year, he’d saved $300 and opened a competing stand–5 cents a hot dog instead of 10 cents. That was the beginning of Nathan’s.
1916 - Nathan Handwerker with his wife Ida, started Nathan's Famous, Inc., which now calls itself the world's greatest hot dog purveyor. He opened his stand in Coney Island near the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues and called it Nathan's. Handwerker sold his hot dogs for five cents each. He used two spice suppliers to keep his hot dog recipe secret. To counteract the rumors of his cut-price hot dogs being less than palatable, he offered free hot dogs to the doctors and nurses at Coney Island Hospital. When questioned in later years about his love for his own food (hot dogs), Nathan bragged, "I'll gladly wrassle anyone who's been living on caviar and champagne for thirty-nine years."
It is said that a local singing waiter, Eddie Cantor (1892-1964), comic actor and singer, and his prominent piano accompanist, Jimmy Durante (1893-1980), comedian, piano player, and singer, resented the fact that the prospering Charles Feltman had raised the price on his "franks" to a dime. They suggested to Nathan Handwerker that instead of working for Feltman, that he go into competition with him, selling franks for half the price. Some historians suggest that Nathan Handwerker borrowed $320 from entertainers Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante to start the business.
To assist in serving his customers, Nathan hired a redheaded teenager, Clara Bowtiinelli (1905-1965), who later was discovered while working there and became the famous actress Clara Bow, the "It Girl" of the 1920's silent films.
The annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island has been held at the original Coney Island hot dog stand every Independence Day since 1916.
1901 - Visitors to the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York could buy frankfurters. According to the article, Pan American Food web site:
1893 - It is claimed that sausages became the standard fare at baseball parks. Some historians claim that Chris Von der Ahe (1851-1913), owner of a St. Louis Bar and the St. Louis Browns major league baseball team, introduced sausages to go with his already popular beer. He was a colorful character himself. A large man who wore loud, checkered clothing, Chris sat in a special box behind third base with a whistle and binoculars. He used the whistle to get the attention of players, for someone to get him a beer, or for special cops he employed for personal use and to keep tabs on his players. He bought the Browns in order to put himself in the limelight and to advertise his saloon business. Historians, to this day, have not found any research to back up the claim that hot dogs were sold at Sportsman's Park.
1902 - Another story is that the term "hog dog" was coined in 1902 during a Giants baseball game at the New York Polo grounds. On a cold April day, concessionaire Harry Mozley Stevens (1855-1934) was losing money trying to sell ice cream and ice-cold sodas. He sent his salesmen out to buy up all the dachshund sausages they could find, and an equal number of rolls. In less than an hour, his vendors were hawking hot dogs from portable hot water tanks while yelling, "They're red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they're red hot!"
In the press box, sports cartoonist, T.A. "Tad" Dorgan (1877-1929), a newspaper cartoonist for the New York Evening Journal, was nearing his deadline and desperate for an idea. Hearing the vendors, he hastily drew a cartoon of a frankfurter with a tail, legs, and a head, so that it looked like a dachshund. Not sure how to spell the word "dachshund" he simply wrote "hot dog!" The cartoon was a sensation and the term hot dog was born. According to the 1996 Maine Antique Digest:
Barry Popik states in his column, Hot Dog (Polo Grounds myth & original monograph):
TAD wasn't even employed by the New York Evening Journal in 1902. In 1993, Leonard Zwilling (an editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English) published a TAD lexicon. Zwilling found that the earliest TAD "hot dog" published in the New Madison Square Garden. Not the Polo Grounds. . . TAD was certainly a great cartoonist and slang popularizer/coiner - perhaps America's greatest. But "hot dog" was in use over ten years before he first used the term in print.
1894 or 1895 - Sausage vendors would sell their wares outside the student dorms at major eastern universities, and their carts became known as "dog wagons." The name was a sarcastic comment on the source and quality of the meat. This slang term came from the popular belief that dog meat was used in making sausage. Many university magazines, such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell, all show that the term "hot dog" was well know before 1900.
Two weeks later,
the Yale Record printed a fanciful bit of fiction about the lunch
wagon's being stolen, along with its owner, who awoke to find himself and
his cart amidst a bunch of chapel attendees. The owner turned the
circumstances to his advantage, doing a bustling business with those who
"contentedly munched hot dogs during the whole service."
FOR PICNIC AT HYDE PARK
The King was so pleased with "this delightful hot-dog sandwich" that he asked Mrs. Roosevelt for another one.
Much fuss had been made in advance of this picnic. Almost a month before the King and Queen of England ate their first hot dogs, Eleanor Roosevelt expressed concern about the upcoming event in her newspaper column called "My Day," dated May 25, 1939 (a syndicated newspaper column published from 1935 to 1962):
"Many people think all frankfurters are the same. Nothing
could be more wrong. Too often the frankfurter in the market display
case is a dreary hunk of pressed meat. There is not much you can do
to give it flavor. Hunt out German shops, Greek or Kosher
delicatessens for the well-seasoned franks."
"I would like to
buy one of your hot dogs. They smell rather tasty. I was wondering if I
could buy just one . . . May I select my own?" Ignatius asked, peering down
over the top of the pot . . ."I shall pretend that I am in a smart
restaurant and that this is the lobster pond."
"The noblest of
all dogs is the hot-dog; it feeds the hand that bites it."
by Lawrence J. Peter
"Mary had a little dog. It played a naughty
trick; Just think - it bite poor Mary so, the mustard was too thick."
Movie actress Marlene Dietrich (1902-1992) once said that hot dogs and champagne were her favorite meal.
It is said that the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth (1895-1948) once downed 24 hot dogs between games of a double header.
Hot dogs are primarily regarded as a fun, summertime food, and most are eaten between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Jayne Mansfield (1933-1967) famous move actress, was Miss Hot
Dog Ambassador in 1950.
To Return to my main History Index Page, click HERE.
Check out more history on your favorite foods:
More food history!
Savoury is this coney dog,
Tasty mustard on the bun,
Oh, coney dog, come closer now.
Goodbye, sweet friend.
by Steve Hodgin
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole Random House, 1995.
Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter & Berthe E. Herter, Herter's Inc., 1967.
Dachsunds, Dog Wagons and Other Important Elements of Hot Dog History, Hot Dog City, National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
Dictionary of 1913 Baseball and Other Lingo, by Gerald Cohen, Rolla, Missouri. University of Missouri-Rolla.
Feltman's & the Hot Dog, Coney Island - Food & Dining, by Jeffrey Stanton.
Foods and Drinks at the Pan-American Exposition, Food Firsts and Technological Marvels, The Libraries, University at Buffalo.
Coney Island History Project, Hall of Fame: Famous Figures in Coney Island.
History Of The Hot Dog, National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
Hot Dog, by Robert Fischer, published by Jullan Messner, 1980.
Hot Dog (Polo Grounds myth & original monograph), July 15, 2004, The Big Apple, by Barry Popik.
Hot Dogs - Who Cooked That Up, by J. J. Schnebel.
Hot Dog! Harry M. Stevens Sports Memorabilia Sold at Leland's, by Dorothy S. Gelatt, Maine Antique Digest, 1996.
Hypotyposeis, Sketches in Biblical Studies, Did the Church Ban Sausages? @ Baraita, by Stephen C. Carlson.
National Hotdog & Sausage Council.
Panati's Extraordinary Origins Of Everyday Things, by Charles Panati, Harper & Row, 1987.
The Hot Dog Companion, by David Graulich, Lebhar-Friedman Books, 1999.
The Life of Symeon the Fool, Leontius’ Life and the Late Antique City, by Leontius of Neapolis, translated by Derek Kreuger, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1995.
The Night 2000 Men Came To Dinner, by Douglas G. Meldrum, Charles Schribner's Sons, 1994.
The Royal Visit: June 7-12th, 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidental Library and Museum.
Urban Legends Reference Pages, by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
What's Cooking America© copyright 2004 by Linda Stradley - United States Copyright TX 5-900-517- All rights reserved. -