Frankly Speaking

By on September 1, 2009
RoadKing Mag

Regardless of what you call it — frank, frankfurter, wiener, weenie, ball park, red hot, dog or dachshund, the hot dog is one of my favorite foods. I’ve been enjoying these delicious little red tubes of meat ever since my parents first served them to my brothers and me way back when we were youngsters.

Unlike some folks, I don’t consider a hot dog just a fun summertime food to be eaten while at a ballpark, fair, beach, cookout or family gathering. I have them all the time, prepared any which way — grilled, fried, roasted, boiled, sautéed, microwaved.

I enjoy trying the local hot dog in my travels. I was in New York City last month and experienced my first “double dogged.” That’s two hot dogs on one bun. Yum!

Did you know that during the July 4 weekend, Americans consumed about 155 million hot dogs? That weekend is always the biggest hot dog holiday of the year. I discovered that piece of information, and many more frankfurter facts, while waiting to get unloaded at a distribution center.

After checking in at the shipping office, I grabbed a hot dog and an iced tea from the vending machines in the lunchroom, returned to my truck and found a place to park to wait until my spot time. Having my computer with me, I was able to locate a WiFi hotspot, so I did some surfing on the subject.

I learned that if a person were to lay 155 million hot dogs end-to-end, there would be enough to go from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles and back more than five times. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it is estimated that more than 7 billion hot dogs are gobbled down. On average, Americans eat an average of 60 hot dogs each year. (Not me. I devour considerably more.) Can you name the top five hot dog-consuming cities? I can. They are, in descending order: New York, Los Angeles,  Baltimore/Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago.

One thing I was unable to establish was the history of the hot dog. There are varying accounts of how and who originated the food, and even how the name “hot dog” came about.

One popular theory suggests that the term “hot dog” evolved from a baseball game in 1901 at the Polo Grounds in New York. A concessionaire came up with the idea to have his vendors sell dachshund sausages (as hot dogs were known at the time) in rolls from portable hot water tanks. To promote sales, the vendors shouted: “They’re red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they’re red hot!”

The story goes that a sports cartoonist at the game drew a panel depicting the scene. Uncertain about the spelling of  “dachshund,” he instead called the food “hot dogs.

And to think that some drivers complain that waiting to load or unload is wasted time.

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