How Hot Dog became an American image

How Hot Dog became an American image

(CNN) – No matter how you like your wiener made, cooked or boiled, with mustard, ketchup or chili, we can all agree on one thing, and that is that hot dogs have become part of a particular American cultural narrative.

And this year, more than ever, hot dogs are hot. In March, data company IRI reported that sales increased by up to 127%, well before the start of the baking season.

Billions of hot dogs

“Americans eat about seven billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day,” said Eric Mittenthal, chairman of the National Council of Hot Dogs and Lucanians.

Americans are estimated to eat seven billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day alone.

Courtesy of the National Hot & Dog Council

But while hot dogs may feel “American,” they are inherently something else.

Also known as frankfurter, this particular sausage style was originally considered by the city of Frankfurt am Main in Germany, but historical hot dogs claim that the sausage culture, which comes from Eastern Europe and especially Germany, has no specific city ​​of origin.

Traditional German hot dogs, when they arrived in the United States, were a mixture of pork and beef. The hot dog with all the beef, as we know it now, has its roots in Jewish-American butchers, who, due to Koser’s restrictions, chose not to use pork in meat blends.

“When the Germans came, you have to look at where they come from,” he said. Bruce Kraig, Emeritus Professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Dr. Kraig is a hot dog historian and author of many books, including Hot Dog: A Global History and A Rich and Fertile Land: A History of Food in America.

“It simply came to our notice then [Germans] “It’s a general area that surrounds the real city of Frankfurt,” explains Kraig. Frankfurt, Kraig said, refers to the area of ​​origin, although the actual food does not necessarily come from Frankfurt itself.

July is national hot dog month.

July is national hot dog month.

Courtesy of the National Hot & Dog Council

Transferred by German immigrants in the mid-1800s, hot dogs began their journey on the American zeitgeist in New York hot dogs, which was a natural setting for the married New Yorker, who had already preferred to eat on the go.

“They appear with the first German immigrants in the late 1840s,” said Dr. Kraig.

“Germans have a culture of sausages, so they eat sausages from butchers. They eat them at home. They eat them on the street at exhibitions and festivals and in pubs, so when the Germans arrived in America, they immediately set up pubs.”

Classic road eats

The Americans, he said, fell in love with the German idea of ​​eating sausages on the street. “You have a lot of evidence that the sausages were sold by vendors, probably in the 1840s, but certainly by the 1860s. Where there are Germans, there are sausages that are sold on the streets.”

Historian Hot Dog Bruce Craig says there is a lot of evidence for the sale of sausages by retailers, probably in the 1840s, but certainly by the 1860s.

Historian Hot Dog Bruce Craig says there is a lot of evidence for the sale of sausages by retailers, probably in the 1840s, but certainly by the 1860s.

Courtesy of the National Hot & Dog Council

This plural is important, in fact. Germany is not known for a single sausage, but for its abundance, from beef and poultry-based weisswurst to pork-based bratwurst to gargling like a tick.

German sausages are so abundant that it is remarkable that the Americans inherited only one in the common diet.

In 1867, a Brooklyn baker named Charles Feltman began selling hot dogs from a convertible pie basket on Coney Island. “Coney Island has become a place where people can go for leisure, but there was really nothing there at the time,” said Michael Quinn, co-owner of Feltman’s Coney Island, whose brother and brother Joe Quinn , purchased in 2015.

Birth of the bun

Charles Feltman developed a handmade, elongated cookie that set the precedent for the modern cookie.

When popularity grew – Michael Quinn, the same Coney Island historian, said that, that first summer, the basket sold about 4,000 hot dogs – Feltman looked up, entering a restaurant and hotel partnership and opened an extensive one. resort on Coney Island in 1873.

A visit to Coney Island in the summer almost always includes hot dogs and, often, beer.

A visit to Coney Island in the summer almost always includes hot dogs and, often, beer.

Channon Hodge, CNN

“Eventually, it was charged as the largest restaurant in the world,” said Michael Quinn.

Many historical sources, including the Coney Island History Project, have acknowledged that, until the 1920s, Feltman’s Ocean Pavilion restaurant served about five million customers a year and sold about 40,000 hot dogs a day.

Suddenly, hot dogs were on the national stage and Coney Island became the accessible center of summer entertainment for anyone and everyone in and around New York.

Coney Island

This stage had already begun to expand when, in 1875, Charles Feltman persuaded Prospect Park Railroad President Andrew Culver to run the subway line to Coney Island, offering public transportation to thousands of New Yorkers who had never had access before. in Brooklyn.

In a way, Nathan's hot dogs are now set for July 4th - and are an important attraction on Coney Island.

In a way, Nathan’s hot dogs are now set for July 4th – and are an important attraction on Coney Island.

Channon Hodge

Combining the metro line with Feltman’s huge resort made Coney Island important – and hot dogs were at the center of this great cultural moment.

Although Feltman’s empire declined over time, and Coney Island became less known for the resort’s luxurious caché and more for the kitsch boardwalk, Feltman had already consciously contributed the greatest icon to American hot dog culture when hire a cookie to continue to become one of the most famous hot dog vendors in the United States.

“They didn’t have machines then, so one of the cookies hired by the Feltman family was Nathan Handwerker,” said Michael Quinn. “Work as a Feltman as a cookie!”

Nathan Handwerker will open its own competing brand, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, in 1916, and this brand will be synonymous with Coney Island’s hot dogs.

Nathan's Famous on Surf Avenue on Coney Island has been operating since 1916.

Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue on Coney Island has been operating since 1916.

Channon Hodge, CNN

In some ways, Nathan’s hot dogs are now set for July 4, when Nathan’s famous hot dog food contest takes place every summer. Hot dogs helped the fame of Coney Island.

“It was such an incredible feeling that Charles Feltman was eventually built into a nearly 100-year-old empire,” said Joe Quinn, Feltman’s co-owner of Coney Island.

How do you get it?

New York, of course, was not the only place where hot dogs took root in the late 19th century. “Hot dogs have spread across the country as migrants have spread to different areas,” said Eric Mittenthal. “Chicago-style hot dogs were kept during the Depression, when the kiosks offered a variety of covers that people would gather in hot dogs, although Chicago is not the only one offering discreet dogs.”

Every year on July 4, Nathan's organizes a hot dog food contest.

Every year on July 4, Nathan’s organizes a hot dog food contest.

Channon Hodge, CNN

While toppings differentiate dogs from place to place, a constant is the affordable price. A hot dog is an accessible food. The it’s delicious, full and cheap, wherever you are, in which city you happen to be and that makes it attractive to anyone, regardless of their physical location. (Even vegetarians and vegans can enjoy hot dogs now – albeit without meat like Beyond Meats and other brands on the market.)

German immigrants spread their love for sausages to other cities through the United States: Detroit, Milwaukee and, later, to Los Angeles.

Wherever the Germans went, the hot dogs followed. Of course, New Yorkers will argue that the specialty of hot dogs – a food that goes best with food while moving – works particularly well in their city, which is why the club is resonant, more than a century later.

“The advantage of having a hot sausage in an elongated bun – it’s a New York thing,” said Michael Quinn. “New Yorkers want to walk and eat.”

As for the name, hot dogs were first invented “red spots” – a term still used in both Maine and Detroit – around the end of the 1800s, due to the heat of the grill used to cook them. But the dog part was really just a cheek. “Hot dog is a funny word,” said Dr. Kraig.

The earliest to find the word was in 1892, in a newspaper excerpt from Patterson, New Jersey. “Recognition of sausages with dogs was much earlier,” he admitted.

According to Dr. Kraig, a popular 1800s song written by Septimus Winner, the question “Where did my little dog go?” Is said to refer to a dog that disappeared with sausage meat. Fortunately, in the age of transparency, we know that the hot dogs we eat today – seven billion this summer, if not more – are all hot, without a dog.

That’s a bit of a relief for those who want to celebrate National Hot Dog Month in July. Break the mustard.

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