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. Fraunken-au-main, Germany, is traditionally credited with orginating the frankfurter. However, this claim is disputed by those who believe 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. Georghehner later traveled to Frankfurt to promote his new product.
In 1987, the city of Frankfurt celebrated the 500th birthday of the hot dog in that city. It’s said that the frankfurter was developed there in 1484, five years before Christopher Columbus set sail for the new world. However, the people of Vienna, Austria, point to the term “wiener” to prove their claim as the birthplace of the hot dog. As it turns out, it is likely that the North American hot dog comes from a common European sausage brought here by butchers of several nationalities.
The year, 1893, was an important date in hot dog history. In Chicago that year, the Colombian Exposition brought hordes of visitors who consumed large quantities of sausages sold by vendors. People liked this food that was easy to eat, convenient and inexpensive. In the same year, sausages became the standard fare at baseball parks. This tradition was begun by a St. Louis bar owner, Chris Von de Ahe, who also owned the St. Louis Browns major league baseball team.
Also in doubt is who first served the dachshund sausage with a roll. One report says a German imigrant sold them, along with milk rolls and sauerkraut, from a push cart in New York City during the 1860’s. In 1871, Charles Feltman, a German butcher opened up the first Coney Island hot dog stand selling 3,684 dachshund sausages in a milk roll during his first year in business.
Today’s hot dog on a bun was probably introduced during the St. Louis “Louisiana Purchase Exposition” in 1904 by, Anton Feuchtwanger. He loaned white gloves to his patrons to hold his piping hot sausages. Most of the gloves were not returned, and the supply began running low. He supposedly asked his brother-in-law, a baker, for help. The baker came up with long soft rolls that fit the meat- that inventing the hot dog bun.
The actual term “hot dog” was presented in 1901 at the New York Polo Grounds. One cold April day, concessionaire Harry Stevens was losing money with ice cream and ice cold soda. 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 with “They’re red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they’re red hot!” In the press box, sports cartoonist Tad Dorgan was nearing his deadline and desperate for an idea. Hearing the vendors, he hastily drew a cartoon of barking dachschund sausages nestled warmly in rolls. Not sure how to spell “dachshund” he simply wrote “hot dog!” The cartoon was a sensation–and the term “hot dog” was born.