RT Cunningham

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The Hot Dog Is an American Invention

Tagged with food, hot dog, sausage on January 3, 2024

hot dog While the sausage for a hot dog was culturally imported from Europe, the name and the addition of the bun is an American invention. The most common sausages are called either wieners or frankfurters (or shortened to franks).

If you really want to be confused, “wiener” is derived from “Vienna sausage”, but in the United States and the Philippines, Vienna sausages are small and soft wieners that come in a can. Although everyone else around me seems to like them, I don’t care for them at all. It’s not the taste, it’s the consistency. I can swallow them whole without chewing at all if I so desire. They’re that soft. I typically don’t like any kind of meat that soft.

The Hot Dog Sausages

I don’t care what it says on the packaging, whether it’s wieners, franks, or frankfurters. What I care about are the ingredients. I like beef, not pork. The brand I prefer while I’m in the United States is “Hebrew National”, which claims to be kosher beef. The specific product is called “Hebrew National Quarter Pound Beef Franks”. In the Philippines, my wife, Josie, and I always buy the “Pure Foods Deli Spicy Pepper Beef Franks”. I can eat one as a hot dog or replace any breakfast meat with it.

Although I won’t eat pork wieners or franks today, that’s what I grew up with. I didn’t know any better, and I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. My mother bought Oscar Mayer wieners and bologna, and they were made of pork. I was already an adult and living elsewhere when I discovered other brands made with beef and how much better they tasted.

The Condiments

There are more condiments that can be placed on a hot dog than I care to mention. I like yellow mustard, sweet relish and diced onions. Most of the time, I’m stuck with only the mustard. When I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll turn a hot dog into a chili dog by pouring canned chili on top.

As an adult, I ate pork hot dogs at least once a month for one year of my life. That was when I was stationed on the island of Okinawa in Japan. There were hot dog stands strategically placed on all the bases. They were foot-long pork wieners in foot-long buns. I would put as many condiments on them as I could fit on them, and it seemed like they had everything at those stands.

Hot Dog?

I thought the Filipino custom of calling a wiener or frank a hot dog was something unique to Filipinos. After all, it isn’t a hot dog until it’s placed in a bun. In the 2003 movie, “Bulletproof Monk”, the monk asks a question. I’m relying on memory, but it was something like “Why do hot dogs come in packages of 10 while the buns come in packages of eight?”

If they can’t get it right in the movies, and whoever’s responsible for the Wikipedia page can’t get it right, how can I expect the average person to get it right? Anyway… a hot dog can be a complete meal, if you add the appropriate condiments. Bread and meat alone aren’t quite enough.

Image by Evan Swigart from Chicago, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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