Subject: Re: Etymology of junk food names In article +lt;1992Jun18.162539.9714@sbcs.sunysb

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

From: (Terry Chan) Subject: Re: Etymology of junk food names In article <> (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 later on.) 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 been found. BTW, the US produces something like 16.5 billion hot dogs per annum. Terry "Gimme an 21 without the motor" Chan


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank