The cost of steak and just the enjoyment of eating hot dogs make them a popular meal.
The hot dog is the main thing thought of as summer food: cheap, tasty, great for grills and forgiving of even the most inexperienced backyard cooks.
The hot dog can be wrapped in bacon, covered in cheese, doused in ketchup, or piled high with chili; no matter the toppings, this American staple can be found across the country. Though most people would rather not know what is in it, the tube steak-in-a-bun is a coveted part of the USA’s national cuisine. But the hot dog is not native to the US. This quintessential baseball snack has roots in history centuries before Columbus set sail for the New World.
But who made the first hot dog? Historians believe that its origins can be traced all the way back to era of the notorious Roman emperor Nero, whose cook, Gaius, may have linked the first sausages.
The origins of the sausage can be traced back as early as c. 700 BC, with its appearance in Homer’s Odyssey, but some historians believe the first sausage was not created until the 1st century AD.
In Roman times, it was customary to starve pigs for one week before the slaughter. Gaius was watching over his kitchen when he realized that one pig had been brought out fully roasted, but somehow not cleaned. He stuck a knife into the belly to see if the roast was edible, and out popped the intestines: empty because of the starvation diet and puffed from the heat. According to legend, Gaius exclaimed, “I have discovered something of great importance!” He stuffed the intestines with ground game meats mixed with spices and wheat, and the sausage was created.
The Germans took to the sausage as their own, creating scores of different versions to be enjoyed with beer and kraut. In fact, two German towns vie to be the original birthplace of the modern hot dog. Frankfurt claims the frankfurter was invented there over 500 years ago, in 1484: eight years before Columbus set sail for America. But the people of Vienna (Wien, in German) say they are the true originators of the “wienerwurst.” No matter which town might have originated this particular sausage, it’s generally agreed that German immigrants to New York were the first to sell wieners, from a pushcart, in the 1860s.
In 1916, Nathan Handwerker – a Polish immigrant and employee of Feltman’s – opened a hot dog stand of his own, selling them for half the price of his competitor; Feltman was eventually forced to close up shop. By the 1920s, Nathan’s Famous was just that: famous. His dogs became known nationwide. With the word of the hot dog making its way from east to west, it became widespread in American culture: it appeared at backyard BBQs and Fourth of July celebrations, even making its way onto a White House menu in 1939.
By the Depression, Nathan’s hot dogs were known throughout the United States. In fact, they were so beloved as delicious, all-American eats that they were even served to royalty. When President Franklin Roosevelt hosted King George VI of England and his queen at a picnic in Hyde Park in 1939, first lady Eleanor decided to make grilled hot dogs part of the menu, a choice that received much press coverage at the time. A whole month before the picnic,
Mrs. Roosevelt mentioned in her syndicated newspaper column. “So many people are worried that the dignity of our county will be imperiled by inviting royalty to a picnic, particularly a hot dog picnic!”
But the hot dogs proved to be a great hit: the king enjoyed them so much he asked for seconds.
Some are better than others and some side dishes are great with them.
List of Hot Dog Types from Wikipedia
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- One 2 1/2-pound head of green cabbage-quartered cored and shredded (12 cups)
- 2 carrots coarsely shredded
In a very large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the vinegar, mustard and celery seeds and season with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage and carrots and toss to coat thoroughly. Refrigerate until slightly chilled, about 30 minutes. Toss the coleslaw again and serve.
- 2 3/4 pounds baby Yukon Gold or baby red potatoes about 2 inches each, scrubbed
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 celery rib cut into 1/4-inch dice
In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water and season the water with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and let stand until cool enough to handle about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the vinegar and mustard and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions, parsley, and celery. Halve the potatoes crosswise and fold them into the dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.