History Of The Hot Dog: Why Do We Call Them Dogs? Where Do They Come From?

By | May 11, 2020

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Hot dogs were a favorite of street vendors. (Wikimedia Commons/Public domain)

There's nothing more America than a hot dog. You can find them being sold at street corners, baseball stadiums, and amusement parks or served at backyard cookouts, graduation parties, and holiday celebrations across the nation. They can be topped with cheese, chili, onions, jalapenos, pickle relish, and the traditional ketchup and mustard combination. Even though the hot dog is synonymous with America, the handheld meal hails from Germany, the best country for wurst sausages. They've been cooking up hot dogs for centuries, long before it came to America and earned its canine moniker. Here is a brief story of the all-American hot dog, its German roots, and how it got its odd name.

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The Germans claim the hot dog, but they may have had Roman origins. (theculturetrip.com)

Emperor Nero's Sausage

According to legend dating back to around the first century AD, the Roman emperor Nero instructed his cook, Gaius, to roast a pig one night. When the cook cut into the hog, however, he realized that the butcher had not properly cleaned out the animal's abdominal cavity, leaving its empty intestines behind. That's when Gaius had a stroke of brilliance: He removed the organ, stuffed the casing with minced meat and spices, and cooked it over hot coals. The dish delighted Nero and his guests and started a culinary trend, but while the Romans may claim the origin of the sausage, it was the Germans who made it their own.