Who Invented Hot Dogs: Germans? Americans? Austrians?

The best inventions don’t always involve hours in a laboratory with test tubes and beakers full of bubbling potions amid periodic explosions and shouts of “Eureeka!” Some inventions just consist of a guy slapping a sausage inside a bun. Today we’re here to educate you a bit on the origin of the hot dog. Fire up the grill, grab your ketchup and mustard (and relish too, don’t forget about we relish-heads!), and strap in for a little history lesson. Oh, and maybe grab some napkins too, all those condiments are stains waiting to happen! 

Who invented the hot dog?

The hot dog’s invention is shrouded in a little bit of mystery (much like what hot dogs are actually made of, but that’s another article). However, according to one story, it was German immigrant Charles Feltman. As the story goes, in 1867, Feltman, a baker in Coney Island, started selling sausages in rolls to prevent fork-less customers from burning their hands (an amazing idea, we can all admit!). He called them Coney Island Red Hots. Eventually, this combo of bun and sausage gained popularity, and the modern hot dog was born. Years later, in 1916, Feltman’s bun slicer, a man named Nathan Handwerker, started his own, rival hot dog restaurant. Can you guess the name? (It’s Nathan’s, in case you were stumped.) And while Nathan’s is the more well-known brand today, Feltman’s still exists and you can buy the original Coney Island hot dog online

When were hot dogs invented? 

While Feltman supposedly created the hot dog sandwich in 1867, the actual sausage part of the hot dog experience was invented somewhere in Europe, though the exact time and place is still debated. It could be anytime between the late 1400s and the 1600s. 

Where were hot dogs invented?

The people of Frankfurt, Germany, claim the hot dog sausage was invented there in 1487, which is where the name “frankfurter” comes from. However, this claim is disputed by those who assert that the popular sausage—known as a “dachshund” or “little-dog” sausage—was created in the late 1600s by Johann Georghehner, a butcher, living in Coburg, Germany.  And some folks also say hot dogs came from Vienna. (Vienna is known as Wien, which is where the word wiener comes from.) 

As you can see, the real answer to who invented the hot dog is a mushy mishmash of intel. But that’s just how it should be when it comes to hot dogs, one of the original mystery meats.

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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