From: email@example.com (Terry Chan)
Subject: Re: Etymology of junk food names
In article <1992Jun18.firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com
(Prasad Rao) writes:
+What is the origin of the names "hot dog" and "hamburgher"?
Charles Panati traces the origins of "hamburger" as follows:
1. Origins in a medieval culinary practice popular among the Tartars,
who shredded the low quality (i.e., tough) beef. Whence we get
steak tartare (they didn't use capers and eggs though).
2. Russian Tartars introduced it to Germany prior to the 14th century.
The Germans mixed in regional spices and the dish was eaten both
cooked and raw and became common among the poorer classes. In
Hamburg, the dish acquired the name "Hamburg steak" during a visit
by a visiting Irish chieftan who was an ancestor of John F.
Kennedy (well, I might be joking about the Chieftan part).
3. The dish went to England and met with Dr. J.H. Salisbury. This guy
was a food reformer and physician (popular combo in those days, it
seems) who was big on shredding all foods prior to consumption to
improve digestability. He was also big on eating beef 3 times a
day, washed down by hot water. Now we get Salisbury steak which
was no big deal until Swanson over promoted it (well I might be
semi-kidding about Swanson).
4. Concurrently, Hamburg steak travelled with German immigrants to
the US in the 1880s and we get "hamburger steak," then "hamburger."
The timing of the bun business is not known though Panati says that
by the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, it was already a sandwich
and was also known as "hamburg."
Regarding the "hot dog", this delicacy is dated back to 1500 B.C. in
Babylonia (I guess that explains the taste of many of the modern ones).
Suffice it to say that stuff meat in animal intestines was (and still is)
a pretty popular culinary approach.
Some highlights though, included the big (heh) role played by sausage
in the Roman festival Lupercalia where Panati says other writers alluded
that the sausage may have played a role beyond mere foodstuff. Anyway,
the early Roman Catholic Church made sausage eating a sin and Constantine
banned its consumption.
In the 1850s, the Germans made thick, soft, and fatty sausages from which
we get "frank." In 1852, the butcher's guild in Frankfurt introduced a
spiced and smoked sausage which was packed in a thin casing and they
called it a "frankfurter" after their hometown. The sausage had a
slightly curved shape supposedly due to the coaxing of a butcher who
had a popular dachshund. The frankfurter was also known as a "dachshund
sausage" and this name came with it to America.
The two Frankfurters who introduced the frankfurter to the US were
Antoine Feuchtwanger (in St. Louis, Mo.) and Charles Feltman, a baker
who had a push cart on New York's Coney Island. Supposedly, Feltman's
pie business couldn't compete with the hot dishes sold by the inns
there, and decided to sell one kind of small hot sandwich, the frankfurter,
since his cart couldn't handle anything fancier or offer greater variety.
He served them with traditional mustard and sauerkraut, it was a hit,
and he opened Feltman's German Beer Garden. In 1913, he hired Nathan
Handwerker to help him out at US$11/week.
Two frankfurter fanatics, Eddie Condon and Jimmy Durante (yep, the ones),
were pissed that Feltman raised his franks to US$0.10 and convinced
Handwerker to break off and sell 'em for US$0.05. And that's what
that traitor, er, canny businessman did in 1916. So he opened a concession
using his wife's Ida recipe. He promoted it by offering free dogs to
the docs at Coney Island Hospital on condition that they eat at his
stand with their dress whites and prominently displayed stethoscopes
(obviously, the current of ethics in the medical profession go back
a ways). This was a hit.
As an aside, Handwerker then Clara Bowtinelli, who bagged out and
turned down possible fame and fortune toiling in a dog joint to
become Clara "The It Girl" Bow.
Anyways, the sausage was known as frankfurters, red hots, dachshund
sausages, wieners, etc. By this time, there was a guy, Harry Stevens,
who owned a refreshment concessionaire who had made popular doggies
at NYC baseball games. His vendors supposedly called out "Get your
red-hot dachshund sausages!" (You can see why this became shorted
In the summer of 1906, a Hearst paper cartoonist, Tad Dorgan was inspired
by the shape of the sausage and the calls of the vendors to sketch a
cartoon with a real dachshund, smeared with mustard, in a bun. Supposedly,
while he was at the office refining the cartoon, he couldn't spell the
name of the damn dog so he made the caption "get your hot dogs."
Anyway, this guy Dorgan was considered a major cartoonist and has had
retrospectives to his work, and historians, archivists, and curators
generally credit him with the name, but the supposed cartoon has never
BTW, the US produces something like 16.5 billion hot dogs per annum.
Terry "Gimme an 21 without the motor" Chan