For reasons that need not be dwelt upon, I recently did some research into the origins of hot dogs (which were once known as, inter alia, “dachshund sausages”). There seems to be relative unanimity out there that the name “hot dog” was coined early in the 1900s by NY cartoonist Tad Dorgan, who … well, I’ll let the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council tell the tale:
“The term ‘hot dog’ was coined in 1901 at the New York Polo Grounds. One cold April day, concessionaire Harry Stevens (his company is still in business) 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.”
This explanation is repeated by numerous other sources, and I suppose it probably has it’s basis in fact, but … still I wonder. Why?
Some sources (like the Council) say the incident occurred in 1901, but almost as many sources (e.g., Restaurant Report OnLine") say it happened in 1906. Hey, it was in a freakin’ newspaper – I’m pretty sure they put dates on those things even then.
I believe that this cartoon has never actually been turned up, even though Dorgan was a fairly major cartoonist who has gotten quite a bit of attention from art critics and the like (including retrospectives of his work).
The prior name of “dachshund sausages,” combined with the fact that they are served hot, seems to readily suggest the name.
The story is a tad too cute.
Anybody know if this is a true tale or a BS anecdote?