July is National Hotdog Month. As a former Chicagoan, I know the tastiest hot dogs or red hots come dressed in their best after they’ve been taken for a “walk through the garden”. That’s Chicagoese for a hot dog wrapped in steamed poppy seed bun and topped with mustard, onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato wedges, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt, as seen below. The best dogs are commonly referred to as snap-dogs because their rubbery casing *snaps* when you take a bite.
In the National Sausage and Hot Dog Council’s national poll of hotdog toppings, mustard comes in second. The poll determined chili was the third most popular hot dog condiment and ketchup was number one. Ketchup! Where I’m from, ketchup on a hot dog is almost a sin. Chili isn’t even mentioned, unless it’s whispered behind closed doors. What’s a mustard-on-dog lover to believe? Those polls are regionally skewed.
According to urban lore, the Chicago-style red hot came to be in 1929. In an open market area known as Maxwell St, there was a little sausage stand named Fluky’s where for a 5⊄ you could get a Depression Sandwich — a wiener with all the toppings mentioned above. When I was a kid, our hotdogs were bright, carcinogen red. All I can say is that dye must have been super toxic for it to be removed in the 1960’s. In that same era, no one gave DDT a second thought. Trucks used to spray it while neighborhood kids played in the fog.
Early hotdogs in America didn’t come on a bun. Some credit New York’s Coney Island for that merger in the 1870’s. I saw another reference that said the hot dog bun combo came about in 1880’s St. Louis, Missouri. The latter sausage seller was handing out a glove you could hold your sausage with but after a while that proved too expensive to keep up. It was his wife who came up with the brilliant idea of selling their wieners on rolls. Another version of that tale has this taking place during the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in1893. The vendor ran out of gloves because people were keeping them as souvenirs. Wiener glove mementos.
What’s in a name?
Be they franks, frankfurters, sausage, wieners, wienies, wursts, hot dogs, red hots, or all the other hot dog nicknames out there, a dog is essentially a sausage of finely minced meats. A wurst is just a sausage; an economical way to use scrap meats. Beyond the combinations of meats and seasonings that create those distinctive flavors, the names we associate with them have to do with their place of origin. The frankfurter, or frank, for example, is a pork-based sausage that comes from Frankfurt, Germany. Wieners come from Vienna Austria. (Pronounce that w like a v). In my neck of the woods, the Vienna Beef and kosher David Berg all-beef Vienna hot dogs wear the snap dog crown.
The most beloved bit of hot dog trivia has the hot dog name originating with a newspaper cartoon. A vendor was calling his sausages dachshund sandwiches and the cartoonist couldn’t spell dachshund but knew what wiener dogs were. He named those sausages on a roll hot dogs.
<<< I grew up with this famous Chicago icon not far from my home. I remember those anthropomorphic dawgs used to rattle my sensibilities when I was a child because they looked the same on both sides. No backs, two faces. Twice as creepy. The dawgs have been repainted since the days of my youth.
I was hoping to find the PBS special entitled A Hot Dog Program on youtube but only found individual clips of the documentary, not the entire program. As the name suggests, it’s all about the hot dog around the USA. You wouldn’t think regional dressings of hot dogs would make an interesting hour, but if it ever comes to your local PBS station, I recommend it. It’s a fun take on a beloved food icon. The dog may have started out as a humble European sausage, but we’ve made it our own with our occasionally weird toppings.
Remember this from the old drive-in theaters?
Every year, Nathan’s Famous in New York has a hot dog eating contest. I imagine the winner’s liver takes a real beating trying to process the barrage of fat, salt, and nitrates. The long-reigning champ was unseated this year in a gag-inducing showdown of hotdog gluttony.
The expressions on their faces says it all. Just watching that has potential to give me a phantom gallbladder attack. 😛
My 100 things will focus on malapropisms and I’ll stick with it until I can’t find any more. From the French mal a propos (meaning inappropriate). Dictionary.com defines malapropisms as an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion of words that are similar in sound.
Here’s one for today:
The flooding was so bad they had to evaporate the city.
Today’s guest Mageela Troche
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