A hot dog (also spelled hotdog), also known as a frankfurter (sometimes shortened to frank), dog, or wiener, is a cooked sausage, traditionally grilled or steamed and served in a partially sliced bun. It is a type of sausage sandwich. Typical garnishes include mustard, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, relish, coleslaw, cheese, chili, olives, and sauerkraut. Hot dog variants include the corn dog and pig in a blanket. The hot dog's cultural traditions include the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
This type of sausage was culturally imported from Germany and popularized in the United States, where it became a working-class street food sold at hot dog stands and carts. The hot dog became closely associated with baseball and American culture. Hot dog preparation and condiments vary regionally in the US. Although particularly connected with New York City and New York City cuisine, the hot dog became ubiquitous throughout the US during the 20th century, and emerged as an important part of some regional cuisines (notably Chicago street cuisine).
Claims about hot dog invention are difficult to assess, as stories assert the creation of the sausage, the placing of the sausage (or another kind of sausage) on bread or a bun as finger food, the popularization of the existing dish, or the application of the name "hot dog" to a sausage and bun combination most commonly used with ketchup or mustard and sometimes relish.
The word "frankfurter" comes from Frankfurt, Germany, where pork sausages similar to hot dogs originated. These sausages, Frankfurter Würstchen, were known since the 13th century and given to the people on the event of imperial coronations, starting with the coronation of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor as King. "Wiener" refers to Vienna, Austria, whose German name is "Wien", home to a sausage made of a mixture of pork and beef. Johann Georg Lahner, an 18th/19th century butcher from the Franconian city of Coburg, is said to have brought the Frankfurter Würstchen to Vienna, where he added beef to the mixture and simply called it Frankfurter. Nowadays, in German-speaking countries, except Austria, hot dog sausages are called Wiener or Wiener Würstchen (Würstchen means "little sausage"), in differentiation to the original pork-only mixture from Frankfurt. In Swiss German, it is called Wienerli, while in Austria the terms Frankfurter or Frankfurter Würstel are used.
Others are credited with first serving hot dogs on rolls. A German immigrant named Feuchtwanger, from Frankfurt, in Hesse, allegedly pioneered the practice in the American midwest; there are several versions of the story with varying details. According to one account, Feuchtwanger's wife proposed the use of a bun in 1880: Feuchtwanger sold hot dogs on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, and provided gloves to his customers so that they could handle the sausages without burning their hands. Losing money when customers did not return the gloves, Feuchtwanger's wife suggested serving the sausages in a roll instead. In another version, Antoine Feuchtwanger, or Anton Ludwig Feuchtwanger, served sausages in rolls at the World's Fair – either at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, or, earlier, at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, in Chicago – again, allegedly because the white gloves provided to customers to protect their hands were being kept as souvenirs.
Another possible origin for serving the sausages in rolls is the pieman Charles Feltman, at Coney Island in New York City. In 1867 he had a cart made with a stove on which to boil sausages, and a compartment to keep buns fresh in which they were served. In 1871 he leased land to build a permanent restaurant, and the business grew, selling far more than just the "Coney Island Red Hots" as they were known.
In 1916, a Polish American employee of Feltman's named Nathan Handwerker was encouraged by Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante, both working as waiters/musicians, to go into business in competition with his former employer. Handwerker undercut Feltman's by charging five cents for a hot dog when his former employer was charging ten.
The term dog has been used as a synonym for sausage since the 1800s, with one thought being that it came from accusations that sausage makers used dog meat, starting in at least 1845. In the early 20th century, consumption of dog meat in Germany was common. The suspicion that sausages contained dog meat was "occasionally justified".
An early use of hot dog in reference to sausage-meat appears in the Evansville (Indiana) Daily Courier (September 14, 1884): "even the innocent ‘wienerworst’ man will be barred from dispensing hot dog on the street corner". It was used to mean a sausage in casing in the Paterson (New Jersey) Daily Press (31 December 1892): "the ‘hot dog’ was quickly inserted in a gash in a roll". Subsequent uses include the New Brunswick (New Jersey) Daily Times (May 20, 1893), the New York World (May 26, 1893), and the Knoxville (Tennessee) Journal (September 28, 1893).
According to a myth, the use of the complete phrase hot dog in reference to sausage was coined by the newspaper cartoonist Thomas Aloysius "Tad" Dorgan around 1900 in a cartoon recording the sale of hot dogs during a New York Giants baseball game at the Polo Grounds. However, Dorgan's earliest usage of hot dog was not in reference to a baseball game at the Polo Grounds, but to a bicycle race at Madison Square Garden, in The New York Evening Journal December 12, 1906, by which time the term hot dog in reference to sausage was already in use. In addition, no copy of the apocryphal cartoon has ever been found.
Common hot dog ingredients include:
Pork and beef are the traditional meats used in hot dogs. Less expensive hot dogs are often made from chicken or turkey, using low-cost mechanically separated poultry. Hot dogs often have high sodium, fat and nitrite content, ingredients linked to health problems. Changes in meat technology and dietary preferences have led manufacturers to use turkey, chicken, vegetarian meat substitutes, and to lower the salt content.
Hot dogs are prepared commercially by mixing the ingredients (meats, spices, binders and fillers) in vats where rapidly moving blades grind and mix the ingredients in the same operation. This mixture is forced through tubes into casings for cooking. Most hot dogs sold in the US are "skinless" as opposed to more expensive "natural casing" hot dogs.
As with most sausages, hot dogs must be in a casing to be cooked. Traditional casing is made from the small intestines of sheep. The products are known as "natural casing" hot dogs or frankfurters. These hot dogs have firmer texture and a "snap" that releases juices and flavor when the product is bitten.
"Skinless" hot dogs must use a casing in the cooking process when the product is manufactured, but the casing is usually a long tube of thin cellulose that is removed between cooking and packaging. This process was invented in Chicago in 1925 by Erwin O. Freund, founder of Visking which would later become Viskase Companies.
The first skinless hot dog casings were produced by Freund's new company under the name "Nojax", short for "no jackets" and sold to local Chicago sausage makers.
Skinless hot dogs vary in the texture of the product surface but have a softer "bite" than natural casing hot dogs. Skinless hot dogs are more uniform in shape and size than natural casing hot dogs and less expensive.
Hot dogs are prepared and eaten in a variety of ways. The wieners may be boiled, grilled, fried, steamed, broiled, baked, or microwaved. The cooked wiener may be served on a bun (usually topped with condiments), or it may be used as an ingredient in another dish. Various models of hot dog toasters exist that cook the hot dog and buns by toasting.
Hot dogs are cooked during manufacture and can be eaten without additional preparation, although they are usually warmed before serving.
Hot dogs are traditionally high in fat and salt and have preservatives sodium nitrate and nitrite, which are possible contributors to nitrate-containing chemicals believed to cause cancer, although this has been disputed. These health concerns have resulted in manufacturers offering alternative product lines made from turkey and chicken, and uncured, low-sodium, and "all-natural" franks.
In spite of this, an American Institute for Cancer Research report found that consuming one 50-gram serving of processed meat — about one hot dog — daily increases risk of colorectal cancer by 20 percent. However, in context this represents an increase of 1.2 percentage points in the probability of contracting colorectal cancer from eating processed meats, from 5.8 percent to 7 percent when a hot dog is consumed every day over years, causing the AICR's warning campaign to be characterized as "attack ads". The Cancer Project group also filed a class-action lawsuit demanding warning labels on packages and at sporting events.
Hot dogs are also singled out and attacked for containing ingredients commonly found in prepared meat products. An unopened package of franks contains ingredients that have the potential for promoting the growth of Listeria bacteria. Listeria monocytogenes can also cause serious infections in infants and pregnant women, and can be transmitted to an infant in utero or after birth. Adults with suppressed immune systems can also be negatively affected. Prevention involves heating the hot dogs to a temperature that will kill pathogens.
Due to their size, shape, and ubiquitous consumption, hot dogs present a significant choking risk, especially for children. A study in the US found that 17% of food-related asphyxiations among children younger than 10 years of age were caused by hot dogs - though this did not weight the prevalence of hot dogs in their diets relative to other foods. This risk of a hot dog being caught in a young child's windpipe can be reduced by cutting it into small pieces or lengthwise strips before serving. It is suggested that redesign of size, shape and texture would reduce the risk, but this would be another form of prepared meat, not a hot dog as it is known.
In the US, the term "hot dog" refers to both the sausage by itself and the combination of sausage and bun. Many nicknames applying to either have emerged over the years, including frankfurter, frank, wiener, weenie, coney, and red hot.
Hot dog stands and trucks sell hot dogs at street and highway locations. Wandering hot dog vendors sell their product in baseball parks. At convenience stores, hot dogs are kept heated on rotating grills. 7-Eleven sells the most grilled hot dogs in North America — 100 million annually. Hot dogs are also common on restaurants' children's menus.
Hot dogs are commonly served with one or more condiments. In 2005, the US-based National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (part of the American Meat Institute) found mustard to be the most popular, preferred by 32% of respondents; 23% favored ketchup; 17% chili con carne; 9% pickle relish, and 7% onions. Other toppings include sauerkraut, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and chili peppers.
Condiment preferences vary across the U.S.. Southerners showed the strongest preference for chili, while Midwesterners showed the greatest affinity for ketchup.
An endless list of hot dog variations has emerged. The original king, known today as a "New York dog" or "New York style", is a natural casing all-beef frank topped with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard, onions optional. Sauteed bell peppers, onions, and potatoes find their way into New Jersey's deep-fried Italian hot dog. In the midwest, the Chicago-style hot dog reigns, served on a poppyseed bun and topped with mustard, fresh tomatoes, onions, "sport peppers", bright green relish, dill pickles, and celery salt.
Many variations are named after regions other than the one in which they are popular. Meaty Michigan hot dogs are popular in upstate New York (as are white hots), while beefy Coney Island hot dogs are popular in Michigan. Hot wieners, or weenies, are a staple in Rhode Island where they are sold at restaurants with the misleading name "New York System." Texas hot dogs are spicy variants found in upstate New York and Pennsylvania (and as "all the way dogs" in New Jersey), but not Texas.
Some baseball parks have signature hot dogs, such as Dodger Dogs at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and Fenway Franks at Fenway Park in Boston, which are boiled then grilled, and served on a New England-style bun.
Skinner's Restaurant, in Lockport, Manitoba is reputed to be Canada's oldest hot dog outlet in continuous operation, founded in 1929, by Jim Skinner Sr. Hotdogs served at Skinners are European style footlongs with natural casings, manufactured by Winnipeg Old Country Sausage in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Half Moon Drive In, also in Lockport, Manitoba and located directly across the river from Skinners, was established in 1938 by brothers Peter and Louie Kosowicz. The original drive in consisted of three wooden buildings shaped like semicircles—one was for takeout, one was for dine-in, and the third was a dance hall and later an arcade. The Half Moon also serves European-style wieners manufactured by Winnipeg Old Country Sausage. One of the most popular items is the Moon Dog, consisting of cheese, bacon, fried onions, pickles and mustard, and the Half Moon serves about 2000 on an average summer weekend day.
In most of the world, "hot dog" is recognized as a sausage in a bun, but the type varies considerably. The name is often applied to something that would not be described as a hot dog in North America. For example, in New Zealand, it refers to a battered sausage, often on a stick (which is known as a corn dog in North America), and the version in a bun is called an "American hot dog".
The world's longest hot dog created was 60 meters (197 ft), which rested within a 60.3-meter (198 ft) bun. The hot dog was prepared by Shizuoka Meat Producers for the All-Japan Bread Association, which baked the bun and coordinated the event, including official measurement for the world record. The hot dog and bun were the center of a media event in celebration of the Association's 50th anniversary on August 4, 2006, at the Akasaka Prince Hotel, Tokyo, Japan.
A hot dog prepared by head chef Joe Calderone in Manhattan sold for US$69 during the National Hot Dog Day in 2010, making it the most expensive hot dog sold at the time. The hot dog was topped with truffle oil, duck foie gras, and truffle butter.
On May 31, 2012, Guinness World Records certified the world record for most expensive hot dog at $145.49. The "California Capitol City Dawg", served at Capitol Dawg in Sacramento, California, features a grilled 460 mm (18 in) all-beef in natural casing frank from Chicago, served on a fresh baked herb and oil focaccia roll, spread with white truffle butter, then grilled. The record breaking hot dog is topped with a whole grain mustard from France, garlic & herb mayonnaise, sauteed chopped shallots, organic mixed baby greens, maple syrup marinated/fruitwood smoked uncured bacon from New Hampshire, chopped tomato, expensive moose cheese from Sweden, sweetened dried cranberries, basil olive oil/pear-cranberry-coconut balsamic vinaigrette, and ground peppercorn. Proceeds from the sale of each 1.4 kg (3 lb) super dog are donated to the Shriners Hospitals for Children.