"Limiting the hot dog’s significance by saying it’s ‘just a sandwich’ is like calling the Dalai Lama ‘just a guy’. Perhaps at one time its importance could be limited by forcing it into a larger sandwich category (no disrespect to Reubens and others), but that time has passed." – Janet Riley, NHDSC Queen of Wien


While there is some controversy over its origins with Germany and Austria both claiming to be its birthplace (dating back over 500 years), and other historians tracing its roots back to the times of of the Roman emperor Nero, the hot dog has no doubt been part of U.S. culture since the 1800s. 


The emergence of hot dogs in the U.S.

  • 1860s - It's been said that a German immigrant first started selling daschund sausages out of a food cart in New York.

  • 1870 - German immigrant, Charles Feltman, opened his first hot dog stand in Coney Island (New York), and reportedly sold over 3,600 frankfurters in his first year.

  • 1880 - As the story goes, after tiring of supplying white gloves to eat hot sausages, Bavarian concessionaire, Anton Feuchtwanger, recruited his brother-in-law (who also happened to be a baker) to create soft rolls shaped for the hot dog - replacing the need for gloves and ultimately inventing the hot dog bun. (And while this story is innovative, the bun may have really been handed down by the Germans.)

  • 1893 - Germans likely introduced the daschund sausage in a bun (i.e., what we know today as the hot dog) to Chicago.

  • 1893 - Hot dogs became the standard baseball park fare. According to some, this popularization is attributed to to Chris Von de Ahe, a German immigrant who also owned the St. Louis Brows major league baseball team. Yet others claim that hot dogs were popularized at sporting events by Harry Stevens, a concessionaire at the New York Giants baseball stadium.

  • 1916 - Polish immigrant, Nathan Handwerker, undercut the competition by selling hot dogs for half the price and by the 1920s, Nathan's hot dogs were nationally known.

  • 1939 - Hot dogs became so American, they made their way onto the White House menu when King George VI of England and Queen Elizabeth made their first royal visit.

  • 1939 - Paul and Betty Pink opened the famous Pink's in Los Angeles.


How hot dogs got their name

  • 1894 - On Yale campus, "hot dogs" began being sold outside dorm in "dog wagons."

  • 1901 - It is said that the term "Hot Dog" was coined by vendors at the New York Polo Grounds one cold April day, shouting: "They're red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they're red hot!" A New York Journal sports cartoonist, Tad Dorgan, drew a cartoon of barking dachshund sausages nestled warmly in rolls - but since he was not sure how to spell "dachshund" he simply wrote "hot dog!" It is important to note, historians have been unable to find this cartoon.