The Story Behind the Hot Dog

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The Story Behind the Hot Dog

Read on for the history of the hot dog.

The exact origins of the hot dog are vague, but most experts agree that the hot dog is derived from the sausage, which has been around so long that it was mentioned in Homer's The Odyssey.

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In the early 1900s, immigrants flocked to America, bringing with them their cuisine and culinary traditions. According to Hot-Dog.org, there are several potential inventors of the American hot dog. In 1871, a German butcher named Charles Feltman opened the first hot dog stand in Coney Island, where he sold 3,684 dachshund sausages and milk rolls during his first year of business.

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Another report says that in the 1860s, a German immigrant was selling dachshund sausage with milk rolls and sauerkraut from his push cart on the Bowery in New York City.

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In 1880, a German peddler named Antonoine Feuchtwanger sold hot sausages on the streets of St. Louis. He gave each customer a pair of white gloves so that they wouldn't burn their hands, but he began to lose money as the customers would walk off with the gloves. His wife suggested that he put the sausages in a split bun instead. These were called red hots.

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Hot dogs really took off thanks to their marriage with baseball. Some historians believe Chris Von der Ahe, the owner of the St. Louis Browns, introduced sausages to baseball as a food to be paired with beer. Other historians believe the term "hot dog" was invented during a Giants baseball game in 1902. When concessionaire Harry Mozley Steves began to lose money selling ice cream and sodas he had his salesmen buy dachshund sausages and rolls.

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According to History.com, the man most responsible for popularizing the hot dog was a Jewish Polish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker. Earning $11 a week at a hot dog stand in Coney Island made Handwerker hungry for more. He sliced hot dog buns until he had saved $300 to start his own hot dog stand. Since his former boss charged 10 cents for a hot dog, Handwerker began to charge 5 cents, which is how Nathan's Famous began.

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Soon after, hot dogs became so popular that President Franklin Roosevelt's wife, Eleanor, served them to King George VI of England when they went for a picnic in Hyde Park!

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Now, nearly 30 million hot dogs are served every year in baseball stadiums alone!

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According to the New York Times, Americans eat nearly two billion dollars worth of hot dogs each year.

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Hot dogs hold a special place in the hearts of Americans. The food evokes both the nostalgia of childhood and the taste of summer. While the hot dog is certainly a popular food today, who would have thought a century-old sausage would become such a staple of American independence? Originally invented by German immigrants, the hot dog has been invented, re-invented and eaten by all.

Check out the slideshow above for the history of the hot dog.

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