When it comes to summertime, there’s nothing more iconic than the hot dog. Whether you’re at a baseball game or a cookout, this classic American dish is always a hit. But what exactly goes into a hot dog? Is it all beef? Or maybe pork and beef? And what about the bun – is that just white bread? In this blog post, we’ll explore the mystery of the hot dog and answer all of your questions!
A hot dog is a sausage that is typically made out of beef, pork, or a combination of the two. It is then placed in a bun and topped with various condiments. The most common condiments are ketchup, mustard, and relish, but there are endless possibilities when it comes to hot dog toppings.
Hot dogs are also called frankfurters, wieners, or bologna sausages, which are used to describe cooked and/or smoked sausages.  They come in various sizes, but the overall appearance showcases a plump, slightly curved sausage. The color of a hot dog can range from pale pink to deep red, and this is due to the curing process and the type of meat used.
In the US, a hot dog often refers to the sausage served in a bun, while in other parts of the world, the term “hot dog” can refer to just the sausage.
Hot dogs are popular in America, but their origins are a bit of a mystery. The most popular theory is that hot dogs were brought to the US by German immigrants in the late 1800s. But what is true about the history of this tasty snack?
Keep on reading to learn more about the history of hot dogs.
An unpopular theory states that hot dogs could be traced back thousands of years ago to Ancient Rome. It is said that the so-called sausages were first made during the era of emperor Nero. 
Nero had a cook named Gaius, and as legend says, he was responsible for introducing sausages to the public.
During the Roman era, cooks usually starve pigs for one week before slaughtering them. One time, Gaius sliced a fully-roasted pig on the belly to know if it was edible. Surprisingly, the pig’s intestines popped out, and Gaius thought of cooking them.
He noticed that the intestines were clean due to the pig’s starvation week. Thus, he decided to fill the intestines with ground meat and spices and then boil them.
The first sausage was born! The Romans then traveled to present-day Germany and brought with them the sausage. However, there is no primary evidence that can back up this story. So as of now, this theory remains unproven.
Conflict Between Frankfurt and Vienna
Another popular claim about the history of hot dogs is their German origins. Supposedly, the hot dog was invented in Frankfurt, Germany, in the 1480s – years before Christopher Columbus’ famous expedition. The Germans call their sausage “frankfurter,” which was coined from the city’s name.
On the other hand, another city also claims to be the birthplace of the hot dog. There is a conflict between Frankfurt and Vienna, Austria, over the invention of the hot dog. The people of Vienna claim that they were the ones who created the sausage and named it “wienerwurst” or “wiener.” This is in reference to the German word for “Vienna,” which is Wien. 
In addition, other people claim that hot dogs came to America through European sausages bought by butchers from various countries.
The Hot Dog Comes to America
European sausages came to America in the 1800s, and the frankfurter sausage became a hit. The sausage was eventually called the “dachshund” or “little dog” sausage due to its tube-like appearance.
Furthermore, it is also unclear who is responsible for introducing how to eat a hot dog in a bun.
One story says that a German immigrant named Feuchtwanger was known for selling hot dogs in St. Louis, Missouri. He then started to use buns in serving hot dogs to prevent his customers from burning their hands.
Another German immigrant who sold sausages on buns was Charles Feltman. He was a pie man who sold hot dogs on Coney Island, New York, in 1867. His product became a hit and sold over three-thousand sausages place in a milk roll in his first year.
Years later, sausage in a bun became a popular street food in America. It was easy to eat while walking or during baseball games.
Why is it Called Hot Dog?
Another thing that is unclear is the origin of the term “hot dog.” While hot dogs were not created in America, the term “hot dog” was coined in the US.
One of the less popular origins of the name was due to some people’s accusations of hot dog meat coming from actual dogs. The theory arises in the 1800s and it was believed that the sausage-makers typically slaughtered dogs to use their meat. But it is unclear whether the term “hot dog” originated from this suspicion.
A popular theory says that the term was first used during a baseball game in New York. At that time, a concessionaire was selling hot dogs and was shouting, “They’re red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they’re red hot!”
A sports cartoonist, Ted Dorgan, who was present during the game, drew a cartoon of the concessionaire with his dachshund sausages. He was then supposed to write “hot dachshund” on his cartoon. But instead, he wrote “hot dog” since he was unsure of how to spell the name “dachshund.”
This story became popular among many people, but historians can’t find enough evidence to prove that this is how the term was coined.
These are some of the popular theories when it comes to the origins of hot dogs. But as of now, there is no primary evidence that can back up any of these stories. So, the exact origin of hot dogs remains a mystery. But whichever story is true, one thing remains certain the hot dog is undoubtedly a popular food that is here to stay.
Types of Hot Dogs
With the different claims surrounding its origins, hot dogs have become a popular food all over the world. And because of that, it’s no wonder that there are now various types of hot dogs available. The variety of hot dogs comes in different sizes, colors, and tastes.
First on the list is the New Yorker hot dog. It is a famous hot dog variety that showcases the classic taste of a hot dog. This all-beef hot dog is usually served with sauerkraut, yellow mustard, and onion sauce. 
The corn dog is another popular variety of hot dogs. As its name suggests, this hot dog is made with a cornmeal batter and then deep-fried. It is usually served on a stick and with ketchup or mustard. 
Italian Hot Dog
The Italian hot dog is a type of hot dog that is popular in New Jersey. It is made with a deep-fried hot dog that is placed in a split and toasted bun. It is then topped with peppers, onions, and potatoes.
The Polish boy is a hot dog that is popular in Cleveland, Ohio. It is made with a kielbasa sausage that is placed on a bun and topped with French fries, coleslaw, and barbecue sauce. The Polish boy has a unique look and taste that makes it a favorite among many hot dog lovers.
From the name itself, a chili dog is a perfect hot dog for those who love chili. It is made with a hot dog that is placed in a bun and topped with chili, onions, and cheese. The amount of chili could vary, depending on the consumer’s preference.
The Dodger Dog is a famous hot dog variety that is served at Dodger Stadium. It is an all-beef hot dog that is grilled and then placed in a steamed bun. The Dodger features a ten-inch pork sausage that is truly unique compared to other hot dog varieties. It is usually served with ketchup, mustard, and relish.
Half-Smoke Hot Dog
The half-smoke hot dog is a type of sausage that is made with a mix of beef and pork. It is then smoked and grilled before being placed in a bun. This hot dog is popular in Washington, DC, and it is usually served with chili, onions, and mustard.
Composition of a Hot Dog
A hot dog sausage is known for its delicious taste and unique composition. But what really makes up a hot dog? While there are different types of hot dogs on the market, most of them share the same ingredients, keeping a distinct taste and appearance.
Let’s take a closer look at the different parts of a hot dog.
- Meat: it is the most important ingredient that makes a hot dog. The sausage meat could come in pork, chicken, or beef. 
- Casing: this is the part of the hot dog that holds everything together. It is usually made from animal intestines or collagen.
- Spices: depending on the type of hot dog, the sausage could be seasoned with different spices. These spices could include pepper, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, paprika, nutmeg, and allspice.
- Citric acid: this ingredient is added to hot dogs to control their acid levels. Citric acid used in a hot dog usually comes in tomatoes and citrus fruits.
- Cherry Powder: the cherry powder gives the hot dog its red color.
- Corn syrup: this sweetener is added to hot dogs to give them a sweeter taste. Sugar could also be an alternative.
- Sodium nitrate: this ingredient is added to hot dogs to help with the curing process.
- Beef stock: this ingredient adds a meatier taste to hot dogs.
- Water: this is used as a filler in hot dogs.
- Yeast extract: this ingredient is added to hot dogs for flavor.
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG): it is a common ingredient found in hot dogs. It is used to enhance the flavor of the sausage. 
- Modified food starch: this ingredient is added to hot dogs as a thickener. Potassium lactate: this ingredient is used to keep the hot dog moist.
These are the most common ingredients found in a hot dog. Despite the variety of hot dogs in the market, they all share these similar ingredients that make them distinct in taste and appearance.
Interesting Facts About Hot Dogs
It is true that hot dogs have come a long way since their humble beginnings. Today, hot dogs are enjoyed by people all over the world and have become a staple in many cultures. Here are some interesting facts about hot dogs that you might not know.
- Mustard is the most famous condiment to use on a hot dog. Ketchup comes second. 
- Hot dogs are among the food that has been sent to space. Apollo 11 was one of the space crews that enjoyed hot dogs in their expedition.
- Hot dogs were among the first foods eaten on the moon.
- The hot dog is very popular in America. In 2015, US supermarket customers spent over $2.5 billion just on hot dogs.
- The most famous hot dog was sold for $169. The hot dog was sold in Seattle, Washington, and had showcased expensive ingredients, such as wagyu beef, shaved black truffles, and caviar.
- In 2021, the world record for the most number of hot dogs eaten in ten minutes was broken by Joey Chestnut. He set the new record of eating 76 hot dogs in just ten minutes. 
- July is known as National Hot Dog Month.
- Beef hot dogs are the most famous choice for American consumers, followed by pork, then turkey. 
- While there are different ways to cook a hot dog, the most popular way preferred by the majority is grilling.
- Sara Lee, an American company, made the longest hot dog in 1996 in honor of the Olympics in Atlanta. The hot dog was over 600 meters long.
- Since its early years in the US, hot dogs have been popular in baseball stands, wherein baseball fans are the primary consumers. In 2015, it was estimated that baseball fans alone ate 18.5 million hot dogs during the MLB.
- The first televised words of the cartoon character, Mickey Mouse, is “hot dog.”
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt is known to have served hot dogs to King George and Queen Elizabeth in 1939.
- From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Americans are expected to consume around seven billion hot dogs. 
- Hot dogs were initially called franks and wieners in the US.
Hot dogs are one of the most enjoyed foods in America. It’s a staple in many events and gatherings, such as birthday parties, barbecues, and road trips. For many, it brings back childhood memories of good times and happy moments.
Hot dogs are simple yet delicious, and it’s easy to see why it’s loved by many. So the next time you’re at a hot dog stand, take a moment to appreciate this American icon.
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