Who Invented the Hot Dog?

Hot dogs are almost universally popular, at least in Western cultures - as a fast food they are tasty, convenient, colourful and easy to carry and eat without making a mess. Whether you like them with mustard, tomato sauce/ketchup, onions and cheese, relish, sauerkraut, coleslaw or anything else, there would be few people who haven't at some time or other, indulged in one. But where did they come from...? Who is responsible for this delicious dog that is so renown the world over? Are they, like the delicious but lethally fat-soaked donut, an American idea..?

Well it seems the origins of the humble hot dog are murky. Frankfurters or weiners, the red sausage that forms the guts of the delicacy, not surprisingly come from Frankfurt in Germany and have been around since the 13th century and no doubt, they were served on buns now and then. However, legend has it that it took an enterprizing Coney Island entrepeneur - German immigrant, Charles Feltman, in the late 19th century to sell frankfurters in long buns as an item and it's possible he called them 'hot dogs', as the use of 'dog' as a colloquial term for sausage first surfced around 1884.

However credit for the term 'hot dog' is sometimes given to newspaper cartoonist Thomas Dorgan, who created a cartoon depicting 'hot dogs' beeing sold at a Giants baseball game in 1900. Yet an excerpt in The Patterson Daily Press from 1892 suggests otherwise:
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 (from Wiki.)
Too Hot to Handle
 Others claim it was really Antoinine Feuchtwanger, the wife of another German, who first sold sausages in buns to the general public on the streets of St Louis in 1880, allegedly because customers kept pocketing the white gloves that were provided to allow them to eat a hot sausage without burning their hands.

The connection with hot dogs and basebal happened early on itn the piece, in 1893 and again a German immigrant, called Chris von der Ahe, was involved. Von der Ahe owned an amusement park as well as baseball team, the St. Louis Giants and via Harry M Stevens, a well-known sports caterer, had hot dogs on the menu as part of the refreshments to serve to the ravenous masses.

Whatever the truth, what does seem clear is that hot dogs have a strong German/American connection, just as donuts did with the Dutch immigrants. Like the donut then, the hot dog is a hybrid, born of two cultures and fitting perfectly together.

History of the Donut