Old Wives' Tales
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Claim: The term "hot dog" was coined in the early 1900s by a cartoonist who couldn't spell "dachshund."
Origins: The notion that one of the original American fast foods, a sausage inside a bun (also known as a frankfurter, a wiener, or a red hot) was rechristened the
The term "hot dog" was coined in 1901 in New York City at the Polo Grounds, home field at various times for both the New York Yankees and the Giants.This is also an apocryphal bit of linguistic folklore: No copy of Dorgan's cartoon has yet been found, and both the practice of selling sausages in buns and the habit of calling them
On a chilly April day, concessionaire Harry Stevens (the company he founded is still in business) was losing money trying to sell ice cream and cold soda. He sent his salesmen out to buy up all the "dachshund" sausages they could find, along with rolls to put them in.
Soon his vendors were selling hot dogs from portable hot-water tanks, shouting "They're red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they're red hot."
Hearst Newspapers cartoonist Tad Dorgan, working on deadline and short on ideas, observed the vendors and hastily drew a cartoon of barking dachshund sausages nestled in their rolls. Not sure how to spell "dachshund," he simply scrawled the words
His drawing became a hit, and so did the hot dog's connection with baseball. So, for want of a dictionary, an American icon was born.
Jokes about sausages being made from dogs (and dachshunds looking like sausages) have been around for hundreds of years, of course. The term
The 5 October 1895 edition of the Yale Record included a poem about "The Kennel Club," a popular campus lunch wagon which sold sausages in buns:
ECHOES FROM THE LUNCH WAGONTwo weeks later, the Yale Record printed a fanciful bit of fiction about the lunch wagon's being stolen — along with its owner, who awoke to find himself and his cart amidst a bunch of chapel attendees. The owner turned the circumstances to his advantage, doing a bustling business with those who "contentedly munched hot dogs during the whole service."
"'Tis dogs' delight to bark and bite,"
Thus does the adage run.
But I delight to bite the dog
When placed inside a bun.
By the early twentieth century — about the time T.A. Dorgan was supposedly "inventing" the term —
Last updated: 13 July 2007
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