Hot dog!

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?

  1. 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.

  2. 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).

  3. The prior name of “dachshund sausages,” combined with the fact that they are served hot, seems to readily suggest the name.

  4. The story is a tad too cute.

Anybody know if this is a true tale or a BS anecdote?

Not sure about the “daschund sausages” thing, but the story I always heard was that prior to WWII, hot dogs were generally referred to as frankfurters, a very German name. Someone somewhere came up with “hot dogs,” so we wouldn’t feel like we were consorting with the enemy. I also heard that people started referring to sauerkraut as “victory cabbage,” for much the same reason.

I am NOT an etymologist, BTW, so I have no idea if these stories are remotely true. I heard them from my grandma, when I was still young enough to believe that everything she said was true. :slight_smile:

I heard Cristi’s version too, but I suspect that it was WW I, not WW II. Whether the two stories coincided just right, and the propganda name was taken from the cartoon is possible, but my history timeline isn’t up to par. You probably could compare the US’s entry into the war/our hate and distrust of anything German with the varying dates and decide which is more credible.

According to Wm & Mary Morris’ Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, the first recorded appearance of the term hot dog is 1903 (which would rule out the anti-German WWI version.) Henry L. Mencken did some thorough research on the origin of the term, supports the T.A. Dorgan (cartoonist) story.

The frankfurter, OTOH, according to Partridge’s Origins, is from the town of Frankfort in Germany, describing a type of sausage. It is certainly plausible that hot dog tended to replace frankfurter during WWI as an expression of anti-German sentiment, but that’s not the origin of the term.

Okay, Mr. Hoi-Polloi, what about the transmutation of “Weinerschnitzel” into “Kielbasa” ??? HUH??? HMMMM???

Hah ! Just as I thought. Conspiracy City !

:slight_smile: Gotta laugh sometimes. Not all the time, they would take away my driver’s license. Without it, how could I be licencious?


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Hmmm…this is kinda neat. I like the “daschund sausage” story. It makes sense that “hot dog” would evolve from “daschund,” regardless of who came up with the term. I mean, “daschund sausage” is a bit cumbersome.

I love this board…I learn something new every day! :slight_smile:

typertrphy, I dare you to go into any establishment in Hamtramck and declare that kielbasi is simply another name for wienerschnitzel. Being neither Polish nor Austrian, I don’t care, personally. However, I doubt that you would escape unharmed from such a venture.


Hold on a second while I switch off my moron alarm…

OK. “Wienerschnitzel” is a VEAL CUTLET recipe. The name means “schnitzel (aka veal cutlet) in the Viennese style.” Perhaps you’ve also heard of Vienna sausages; these are the basis for hot dogs being called “wieners.”

Like the man says, what trips us up the worst are the things we know that just aren’t so.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

Not that this has anything to do with the topic, but am I the only veteran of high school German that noticed that the restaurant chain, “Der Wienerschnitzel” uses the wrong article. I should be “Das”.

IT should be “Das”!

Badger-hunting sausages?