There’s no doubt that hot dogs have become a significant part of American culture and heritage. It’s an all-time favorite whether it is grilled, boiled, or topped with chili sauce, ketchup, and mustard. In fact, it is said that Americans consumed an estimated 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Although we have tasted a lot of hot dogs already, there are still some who are not yet aware of how this food originated and what lies behind its popularity.
A quick journey in the past will lead us to how hot dogs became a truly American idol as it is today.
From Germany to the US
Hot dogs are said to have originated in Germany and were brought to the U.S. The traditional German hot dog that arrived in America was first made with a blend of beef and pork. The all-beef hotdog, by the way, comes from Jewish-American butchers, wherein due to some Kosher restrictions, did not use pork as an ingredient.
Dr. Bruce Kraig, a hot dog historian who authored several books, mentioned that many early Germans came from the Palatines, an area near Frankfurt known to be the origin of sausages and hot dogs.
The Birth of Hot Dog Carts
In the mid-1800s, hot dogs were brought by the German immigrants to the American zeitgeist in the hot dog carts of New York City. These hot dogs become a favorite partner of the sandwich-loving and busy New Yorkers.
Since sausages are a significant part of the German culture, they even eat sausages from butcher shops, at home, in beer gardens, in festivals, fairs, and in the street. The same practice also became famous and embraced in America.
The Popularity of Hot Dogs in the US
As time went by, Americans started to put up areas in the streets where hot dogs are sold. In the 1860s, the evidence of sausages becoming more popular in the U.S. became more evident.
Hot dogs have become even more interesting because Germany is known not only for a single type of sausage. There are a lot of them actually, including pork-based bratwurst, poultry-based weisswurst, veal, and the jerky-like landjäger. However, it is absolutely remarkable that despite the myriads of German sausages, Americans inherited only one in their dietary list.
Hot dogs were first called “red hots” in the late 1800s because of the grill’s heat to cook them. The term hot dog is actually a joke word.
Charles Feltman and Hot Dogs
In 1867, Charles Feltman, a baker and entrepreneur, began selling hot dogs from a customized pie cart on Coney Island. He developed a hand-sliced and elongated bun, which is considered the modern hot dog bun’s predecessor.
When it became popular, the cart amazingly sold 4,000 hot dogs in the first summer. Feltman grabbed this opportunity and started a hotel and restaurant partnership, opening a resort in Coney Island in 1873. Not long after, this became the largest restaurant in the world.
Many historical sources have acknowledged that in the 1920s, Feltman’s Ocean Pavilion restaurant was catering to an estimated 5 million customers annually, selling roughly 40,000 hot dogs every day.
Hot dogs became famous and were in the limelight, and Coney Island became the epicenter for summer fun and adventure for everyone. The place became even more accessible when public transportation became available. In all these innovations in tourism and local development, hot dogs played a significant role.
Nowadays, the kind of toppings and affordability make hot dogs unique from place to place. Hot dogs are delicious, easy-to-cook, and a remarkable American favorite. Expect to have more innovations of this food in the coming years!
So much for the look-back! Why not try a sumptuous Chicago-style hotdog with awesome relish and toppings in one of the best Chesterton restaurants? We at George’s Gyros Spot offer different hot dog menus that you’ll surely enjoy. Order today!