Last Friday I journeyed with the kids, my sister’s family, and my parents to the Pittsburgh zoo. We had a great time seeing all the animals, and even the car ride was fun (over two hours away). On the way home, somehow or another we got talking about food, and Xoe asked me, not for the first time, why hot dogs are called hot dogs.
Hmmm… I promised to look it up, and promptly did so. =)
Firstly, a hot dog is defined as a particular type of sausage, usually served on a split bun. Check. And in the 1890s, sausages were sometimes referred to as “dogs.” Why? Well, ahem, there was apparently a suspicion that some sausages contained dog meat. And while I didn’t see any documentation on it, the articles said this suspicion was “occasionally justified.”
Ewww. Awww. =( I didn’t tell Xoe that justified part. Just that some people accused sausage makers of it.
Anyway. So earning the name “dog” was just because it was in the sausage family. The fact that they were served on buns made them a quick and easy meal when on the go, and apparently a little boy in the 1890s rushed up to a vendor and said, “Give me a hot dog! Quick!” and it stuck. (Yeah, sounds like lure, doesn’t it? LOL) It was popularized by a cartoon that really got the name stuck.
What’s even more interesting is that it only took 6 years from “hot dog” to go from the accepted name of that particular sausage to a verb used when someone’s showing off. By 1906, “Hot dog!” as an expression of approval had gained its place too.
So now that we’re moving toward the season of picnics and cookouts, you’ll know why you’re tossing hot dogs on the grill and not frankfurters or weiners or plain ol’ sausages. 😉
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