The Hot Dog Name like many other aspects of Hot Dog History have several competing legends as to how it came to be. while no one can say for sure the most popular stories all offer a reasonable claim to be the inventors of the name "Hot Dog".
In 1852, the butcher's guild in Frankfurt-am-Main created a smoked, spiced sausage in a thin casing, dubbed a "little-dog" or "dachshund sausage" for its obvious resemblance to the low-riding German dog. dachshund sausages were usually sold with bread.
The term "dog" has been used as a synonym for sausage since 1884 and accusations that sausage makers used dog meat date to at least 1845. In the early 20th century, consumption of dog meat in Germany was common.The suspicion that sausages contained dog meat was "occasionally justified".
According to a myth, the use of the complete phrase "hot dog" in reference to sausage was coined by the newspaper cartoonist Thomas Aloysius "TAD" Dorgan around 1900 in a cartoon recording the sale of hot dogs during a New York Giants baseball game at the Polo Grounds. Dorgan attended a polo match in New York in 1901 where vendors roamed the aisles imploring patrons to "get your red-hot dachshund sausages." Enchanted, Dorgan drew a smiling dachshund nestled in a long bun, but couldn't spell dachshund, so he captioned it "hot dog!" and thus the food got its name.However, TAD's earliest usage of the Hot Dog Name was not in reference to a baseball game at the Polo Grounds, but to a bicycle race at Madison Square Garden, in The New York Evening Journal December 12, 1906, by which time the term "hot dog" in reference to sausage was already in use. In addition, no copy of the apocryphal cartoon has ever been found.
According to the NHDSC, historians have never been able to find this alleged cartoon, even though Dorgan's body of surviving work is vast.
The earliest known usage of "hot dog" in clear reference to sausage appeared in the December 31, 1892 issue of the Paterson (NJ) Daily Press. The story concerned a local traveling vendor, Thomas Francis Xavier Morris, also known as "Hot Dog Morris".
"Somehow or other a frankfurter and a roll seem to go right to the spot where the void is felt the most. The small boy has got on such familiar terms with this sort of lunch that he now refers to it as "hot dog." "Hey, Mister, give me a hot dog quick," was the startling order that a rosy-cheeked gamin hurled at the man as a Press reporter stood close by last night. The "hot dog" was quickly inserted in a gash in a roll, a dash of mustard also splashed on to the "dog" with a piece of flat whittled stick, and the order was fulfilled".
—Paterson Daily Press, Dec. 31, 1892, pg. 5
In the late 1800's 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.
The October 5, 1895 edition of the Yale Record included a poem about "The Kennel Club," a popular campus lunch wagon which sold sausages in buns:
ECHOES FROM THE LUNCH WAGON
"'Tis dogs' delight to bark and bite,"
Thus does the adage run.
But I delight to bite the dog
When placed inside a bun.
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."
So while the term "hot Dog", may not have been invented on the university campuses it does appear that this is most likely where the name took hold and became part of our culture.
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!