July is national hot dog month and that makes sense as Americans eat the most hotdogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Hotdogs are a summer staple that has recently gotten many gourmet makeovers in high-end restaurants and even in baseball stadiums. The humble hotdog on a bun will always be an American favorite and we wanted to learn more about how it came to be.
Processed meat, sausage in particular, is one of the oldest forms of processed food, dating way back to 9th Century B.C. It is recorded that little sausages were made by Johann Georghehner, a butcher living in Coburg, Germany. Eventually he brought his product to Frankfurt, where he was producing them in the 1600’s. Technically these sausages are not hotdogs, as they have to served on bun to be considered so…
How did the American hotdog come about? The story goes that in 1880 a German pushcart owner sold hot sausages in St. Louis, Missouri. He would hand out white gloves for his customers, so that they would not get messy or burn their hands while eating. It did not take long before his profits went down due to the pricy gloves, and people simply taking the gloves without buying the sausages. His wife suggested he asked his brother in-law for help, who owned a bakery. They made impromptu rolls that fit the sausages and the hotdog was created, going by the name “red hots.”
In the early 1900’s the name “hotdog” was reportedly coined during a New York Giants game. An ice cream vendor was losing money on a cold spring day, as no one wanted to buy his cold snacks and sodas. He sent friends to buy sausages and rolls and started selling them as Dachshund (name of a dog breed) sausages, with great success. Eventually the name was shortened to “hotdog” and to this day is still the most popular ballpark food.
Thanks very much to street food and trendy gastro-pubs, the hotdog can often be considered gourmet. Today we have seen the traditional hotdog taken in many different directions. Hotdogs have been spiced and sweetened. They have included exotic meats and toppings that include everything from salsas to tropical fruits. They have been put in seeded buns and French baguettes. According a recent council polls most adults prefer mustard while children choose ketchup.
Bring the idea of gourmet ‘dogs to your next summer gathering by serving a variety of sausages from elk to chicken with an assortment of buns. Set out a make-your-own hotdog bar with unique condiments such as chutneys, guacamole, salsas, chili, beans, bacon, hummus, and cheeses… well you get the idea! For more inspiration look here:
Oh, and don’t forget the mustard and relish!