Hot Dog History like most epic events, there are varying accounts of how and when it all began. The history of the Hot Dog is no different. You will find many references throughout history to the origins of a Hot Dog-like thing called a sausage. I personally find this an interesting topic but have not come to a conclusion one way or the other as to the origin of my favorite food, I am just glad it is here!
Below are some stories and legends of how the Hotdog was born.
The Sausage is one of the oldest forms of processed food, having been mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as far back as the 9th Century B.C.
"As when a man besides a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted. . ."
Sounds scrumptious huh..?
Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, is traditionally credited with inventing the frankfurter. However, this claim is disputed by those who assert that the popular 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. According to this report, Georghehner later traveled to Frankfurt to promote his new product. So either way from these stories it seems that the weinner came through Frankfurt.
But wait, another legend in Hot Dog History says that - Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar's 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 the 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. Never read that in any History class did you?
Not so fast, 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. Hot Dog History has several stories or legends as to how this first happened. As the cuisine of Germany relies heavily upon sausages of all shapes and sizes, Historically it stands to reason that the German people would bring these sausages with them to America. German immigrants appear to have sold frankfuters, along with milk rolls and sauerkraut, from pushcarts in New York City's Bowery during the 1860s.
Charles Feltman, a German butcher, is said to have opened up the first Coney Island hot dog stand in Brooklyn, New York. According to the article Coney Island: Food & Dining by Jeffrey Stanton:
In 1867 Charles Feltman owned a pie-wagon that delivered his freshly baked pies to the inns and lager-beer saloons that lined Coney Island's beaches. His clients also wanted hot sandwiches to serve to their customers. But his wagon was small and he knew that it would be hard to manage making a variety of sandwiches in a confined space. He thought that perhaps something simple like a hot sausage served on a roll might be the solution. He presented his problem to Donovan, the wheel-wright on East New York and Howard Street in Brooklyn, who had built his pie-wagon. The man saw no problem in building a tin-lined chest to keep the rolls fresh and rigging a small charcoal stove inside to boil sausages. When the wheel-wright finished the installation they fired up the stove for a test run. Donovan thought that the sausage sandwich was a strange idea but he was willing to try it as Feltman boiled the succulent pork sausage and placed between a roll. The wheel-wright tasted the it and liked it. Thus the hot-dog was born.
As you can see everyone wants to claim credit for the creation of America's favorite summer time dish (or in my case year round). There are similar claims made on the Hot dog bun, Cart, Stand and even the name itself. So as you can see Hot Dog History is full of it's share of controversy. I do not know which one is the real begining, all I know is thank God there was a begining otherwise I might starve to death!
Interested in a great book about Hot Dog History? Then you will want to read "Man Bites Dog" By Bruce Kraig and Patty Carroll
Check out these other great pages about hot dog history!