A Brief History of the Hot Dog

The humble hot dog is a coveted part of the USAs national cuisine
The humble hot dog is a coveted part of the USA's national cuisine | © Elizabeth Wake / Alamy
Alexia Wulff

Wrapped in bacon, covered in cheese, doused in ketchup or piled high with chili – whatever the toppings, the hot dog can be found right across the USA. Though most people might rather not know what’s in it, it’s certainly a coveted part of the USA’s national cuisine. But hot dog history buffs will know that this snack is not native to the USA at all, as the roots of this quintessential baseball meal go back centuries before Columbus set sail for the New World.

Whatever the toppings, the hot dog can be found right across the USA

So who invented the hot dog?

Let’s start with the humble sausage. Its origins can be traced back as early as 700 BCE, with its appearance in Homer’s Odyssey,but some historians believe the first sausage was not created until the 1st century CE. Legend has it that Emperor Nero’s cook, Gaius, stuck a knife into a roasted pig that had not been cleaned thoroughly, and the puffed, empty intestines fell out. He exclaimed at his discovery and tried filling the casing with ground meat and spices. Over the course of the following centuries, the sausage traveled across Europe, making its way to Germany, a country that came to adopt the wiener as its own. Today, Frankfurt and Vienna both lay claim to the creation of this contemporary German staple. But how did the hot dog get from Germany to the USA?

The origins of the humble sausage can be traced back as early as 700 BCE
Nathan’s hot dog stand has been serving them up since 1916

In 1916, Nathan Handwerker – a Polish immigrant and employee of Feltman’s – opened a hot dog stand of his own, selling them for half the price of his competitor, and Feltman was eventually forced to close up shop. By the 1920s, Nathan’s hot dogs were known nationwide.

As the hot dog made its way from east to west, it became widespread in American culture: it appeared at backyard barbecues and Fourth of July celebrations, even making its way onto a White House menu in 1939. In 1939, King George VI of England and Queen Elizabeth made the first royal visit to the USA. Franklin D Roosevelt and the first lady hosted a picnic, at which Eleanor decided to serve the hot dog. Having never tried one before, the Queen asked, “How do you eat this?” That same year, the West Coast responded with its own hot dog stand, when Paul and Betty Pink opened the famous Pink’s in Los Angeles.

Paul and Betty Pink opened the famous Pink’s in 1939
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article