Did you miss National Hot Dog Day last Wednesday? Never fear, it is actually National Hot Dog Month! Yes, this is a thing. July is National Hot Dog Month and the third Wednesday of July is the annual official National Hot Dog Day and has been since 1972. I cannot believe I have been sheltered from this reality, especially since a mustard, relish, slaw covered dog is one of my favorite ball park or fast-food choices.
The hot dog has a pretty fascinating and somewhat controversial history. Its exact origins are not entirely clear, but one popular theory suggests that the modern hot dog originated in the United States with German immigrants, particularly in cities like New York and Chicago who introduced sausages from their homeland. These sausages were typically made from pork, beef or a combination of both.
Around the same time, an entrepreneur named Charles Feltman is often credited with popularizing the hot dog in Coney Island, New York, where he opened a stand and sold boiled sausages on a roll.
We can’t discount the European theory from Germany and Austria that says the frankfurter sausage, named after Frankfurt, Germany, and the wiener sausage, named after Vienna, Austria, are believed to be the predecessors of the hot dog.
Any of these theories sound plausible to me, but we know the hot dogs became popular in the United States because of street vendors and baseball games, and all the various toppings are due to the ingenuity of street vendors.
Every location in the country touts the best restaurant to find your choice of hot dog. Koxville has D & B’s Hot Dogs and Ice Cream on Oak Ridge Highway. Dyer’s Burgers in Memphis and Hot Diggity Dogs in Nashville are on the list of the top places in Tennessee as well.
The national list reminds us of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog House that is a legendary hot dog chain that first opened in Coney Island, New York, in 1916. Known for their delicious beef hot dogs and annual hot dog eating contest, Nathan’s Famous has become an iconic destination for hot dog lovers.
There are so many on the list of “must go to” hot dog places, I would be writing for pages. There are books for that.
There is one more piece of trivia that ties the hot dog to Knoxville. The first known use of the term “hot dog,” to describe what was previously known as wienerwurst, was in a Knoxville newspaper in 1891. Now that is newsworthy trivia.
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