Health effect and choking risk
A cooked hot dog on a bun garnished with mustard.
|Alternative name(s)||Frankfurters |
|Main ingredient(s)||Pork, beef, chicken or combinations thereof and bread|
|Other information||Hot dogs are often pink but may be brown.|
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 served in a bun 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 (cf. Hamburger, whose name also derives from a German-speaking city). Johann Georg Lahner, a 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 have supposedly invented the hot dog. The idea of a hot dog on a bun is ascribed to the wife of a German named Antonoine Feuchtwanger, who sold hot dogs on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, United States, in 1880, because his customers kept taking the white gloves handed to them for eating without burning their hands. Anton Ludwig Feuchtwanger, a Bavarian sausage seller, is said to have served sausages in rolls at the World's Fair–either the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago or the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis–again allegedly because the white gloves he gave to customers so that they could eat his hot sausages in comfort began to disappear as souvenirs.
Harry M Stevens Inc., founded in 1889, serviced major sports venues with hot dogs and other refreshments, making Stevens known as the "King of Sports Concessions" in the US.
In 1916, a German American employee of Feltman's named Nathan Handwerker was encouraged by celebrity clients Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante 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 1884 and accusations that sausage makers used dog meat date to at least 1845. In the early 20th century, consumption of dog meat in Germany was common. The suspicion that sausages contained dog meat is occasionally justified.
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, TAD'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.
The earliest known usage of "hot dog" in clear reference to sausage, found by Fred R. Shapiro, appeared in the December 31, 1892 issue of the Paterson (NJ) Daily Press. The story concerned a local traveling vendor, Thomas Francis Xavier Morris, also known as "Hot Dog Morris".
Somehow or other a frankfurter and a roll seem to go right to the spot where the void is felt the most. The small boy has got on such familiar terms with this sort of lunch that he now refers to it as "hot dog." "Hey, Mister, give me a hot dog quick," was the startling order that a rosy-cheeked gamin hurled at the man as a Press reporter stood close by last night. The "hot dog" was quickly inserted in a gash in a roll, a dash of mustard also splashed on to the "dog" with a piece of flat whittled stick, and the order was fulfilled.
—Paterson Daily Press, Dec. 31, 1892, pg. 5
Other early uses of "hot dog" in reference to sausage appeared in the New Brunswick (NJ) Daily Times (May 20, 1893), the New York World (May 26, 1893), and the Knoxville (TN) Journal (Sep. 28, 1893).
Common hot dog ingredients include:
- Meat trimmings and fat
- Flavorings, such as salt, garlic, and paprika
- Preservatives (cure) - typically sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite
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.
If a manufacturer produces two types of hot dogs, "wieners" tend to contain pork and are blander, while "franks" tend to be all beef and more strongly seasoned.
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.
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
"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.
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.
Home cooking hot dogs
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.
Unlike other sausages which may be sold uncooked, hot dogs are precooked before packaging. Hot dogs can be eaten without additional cooking, although they are usually warmed before serving. Because an unopened, packaged hot dog can have listeriosis bacteria, it is safer to heat them, especially for pregnant women and those with suppressed immune systems.
An American Institute for Cancer Research report found that consuming one 50-gram serving of processed meat — about one hot dog — every day increases risk of colorectal cancer by 20 percent. The Cancer Project group filed a class-action lawsuit demanding warning labels on packages and at sporting events. Hot dogs are high in fat and salt and have preservatives sodium nitrate and nitrite, believed to cause cancer. According to the AICR, the average risk of colorectal cancer is 5.8 percent, but 7 percent when a hot dog is consumed daily over years.
Hot dogs present a significant choking risk, especially for children. A study in the U.S. found that 17% of food-related asphyxiations among children younger than 10 years of age were caused by hot dogs. Their size, shape and texture make them difficult to expel from the windpipe. This risk can be reduced by cutting a hot dog into small pieces or lengthwise strips before serving to young children. It is suggested that redesign of size, shape and texture would reduce the risk. Pediatric emergency doctors note that a stuck hot dog is almost impossible to dislodge from a child's windpipe.