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The Lighter Side (June 2018)

June 28, 2018

The mysterious origin of a summer favorite

Americans will chow down on 7 billion hot dogs this summer, most never wondering about the origin of the strangely shaped sandwich with the odd name.  Nonetheless, in case someone asks, here are some clues from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
 
Hot dogs might be an invention of college wags. One of the first confirmed written references comes from a Yale magazine in 1895 in which students are described as "contentedly munching hot dogs." In fact, a hot dog vendor's cart was called The Kennel Club.
 
Some say the hot dog was popularized by a cartoonist, Tad Dorgan, during the 1930s when he saw his friend Harry Stevens selling the "hot dachshund sausages" during a game at the New York Polo Grounds and shouting "Get your red-hot dachshund sausages!" Dorgan was said to have sketched a cartoon of Stevens pitching a sandwich with a dachshund.  It had the caption: Get your hot dogs!  But no proof of this cartoon has ever materialized.
 
However, there is evidence that German immigrants sold 'hot dogs' from carts in the Bowery in the 1860s.  And, after all, the Germans are known for their sausages.
 
Maybe the better question is how the hot dog bun was developed. One story features a vendor in the 1870s who provided white gloves to customers who bought his sandwiches. When customers did not return the gloves, he appealed to a baker to make a roll suitable for the long dog.
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