Welcome to another edition of Food Holidays: Guide Style. This means that it is time to celebrate another made up food holiday on the calendar because gosh darn it: food!!! And for this week we celebrate the food found at almost every sporting park that exists. It’s the great Grecian food found at every American baseball park and celebrated at every German Oktoberfest everywhere. What could be greater this week than to celebrate the Hot Dog (as it is national Hot Dog Month), and all of its different variations?
As for my experience with hot dogs, they have been many and varied. I cannot say that I remember my first hot dog ever, but I can say I remember getting my first Dodger Dog at a baseball game at Dodger Stadium. It was a whole foot of beefy goodness packed in a bun. Of course, there was the discussion about what should go into a hot dog when you ate it. The condiments on the side were fairly simple for the hot dog back then. You had your ketchup, mustard, and pickle relish. And if you were really going to be living on the edge, you could add some chopped onions to the mixture.
Now the condiments for a hot dog contain a wide variety of different delectables. You can go with your typical fare, or you can live dangerously. Almost everywhere now has added sauerkraut, jalapenos, diced tomatoes, and a bit of salsa. But if you are really looking to up your game there are spots that offer so much more. You can add sautéed mushrooms, pineapples, pickle spears, teriyaki sauce, lettuce, and a whole host of other offerings to your already tasty treat. And of course, no hot dog is complete without a delicious bun. And now even those have been spruced up with pretzel buns and other varieties offered to tempt your palate. What could be better?
The hot dog has meant so many different things to so many different people over time. It’s the staple of the Oktoberfest diet or the yin to your yang of beer at a baseball game. Or it’s just a great simple BBQ on a Saturday afternoon in July as you hang with friends and catch some sports, or light some fireworks. Hot dogs always seem to bring back pleasant memories.
But our celebration of the month of the Hot Dog on the Guide cannot be complete without a little fake history to go along with it. And of course, I cannot discuss this fake history without going into a background into the confusion about the actual day. When looking up food holidays to do, I was excited for the day of the dog. And then I realized that three different supposed reputable food sources gave me three different days to celebrate the hot dog. This confused our crack research team greatly. But a couple of drinks later we didn’t care.
That didn’t stop us from trying to figure things out, however. So I finally found a source that stated the celebration of the dog jumped from day to day each year depending on the whims of the National Hot Dog Council. (I never knew there was such a thing.) So I suppose I had to forgive the fake news of the individually days to celebrate the hot dog. Whether you choose to celebrate it on the 19th, 22nd or 23rd, you can celebrate the hot dog month as it is the month of the delectable dog.
Fake History Of The Hot Dog
Given the craziness about when the actual national hot dog day occurs as a result of the confusion about who the hot dog council is and why they conspire with the Illuminati, it is no wonder that the history of the hot dog has so much speculation attached to it. According to those who try to read into tea leaves for a living, they have found the first mention of the rolled up sausage in blood and fat in Homer’s Odyssey. I know that for those of you who are anti-hot dog, it makes perfect sense that Homer would have originated it in the Odyssey as it is the tale of Odysseus going to hell.
From there we move to the next mention of the delectable wiener being the invention of Nero’s cook Gaius. Evidently, upon roasting a pig for Nero, Nero made some complaint about the plumpness of the pig. Of course, one did give Nero anything he didn’t like unless he wanted to be burned by fire. (Somehow hellfire makes its way into hot dogs history even here.) Gaius cut open the pig and the intestines fell out. He got a strange and wonderful idea from this. So he took the intestines of the pig and stuffed them with ground beef and venison, and then he cooked them up to serve. This became the first wiener. It’s too bad he didn’t gut Nero and use his intestines before he burned Rome. But that is a whole other piece of fake history.
The next mention of the sausage is from the wild and crazy monks in the seventh century and their holy sausages. Some monk was walking around one day with a string of sausages wrapped in wiener casings around his neck. He loved the smell of the sausages so much that he took to dipping his sausages in mustard and anointing his congregants with the mustard off the sausage. A couple of his congregants came to play a joke on him, one with eye troubles. And he sprayed their faces with the mustard dipped with the sausages.
The congregant almost went mad with the pain. The monk told the man to wash in vinegar and garlic and his eyes would be healed. When he didn’t listen the eye pain got worse. So he promised to God that he what would do what the monk asked. And when he did, his eyes were instantly healed from all of his eye problems. They were holy sausages indeed.
Evidently, these monks moved into German territory and they held onto the secrets of the sausage for centuries. This long kept secret was held until the mid-1400s when they were preparing for their holy Roman emperor was about to be made a king. The Monks of Frankfurt Germany started to celebrate early by handing out lots of beer and these sausages that the people started to call Frankfurters. This caught on, and the frankfurter (the father of the modern hot dog) was born.
They caught on for centuries. Eventually, they became the rallying cry of the Reformation. Don’t take away our hot dogs and beer Martin Luther cried. And so the Germans split from Rome. Those who know the real history have hidden the real reasons for the Reformation unto this day. What about those 95 theses by Luther you ask? They were really 95 different hot dog dipping sauces. Rome and the papacy were mortified that there should be any dipping sauces for their frankfurters other than ketchup. And so the fight over whether ketchup or mustard was a better condiment for hot dogs began.
Eventually, some people brought the frankfurter to Austria. But they seemed to have something against pigs there, which is another fake history of which we at the Guide intend to get to the bottom.
As for how we ended up sticking those sausages on rolls, we have a couple of different stories about that. The first involved a Coney Island salesman who had a hard time handing people hot slippery mustard covered dogs to eat. As sauerkraut was falling out of favor that year as a condiment for the frankfurter and mustard was growing more popular, the salesman noticed that too many of the frankfurters were falling on the ground. The growing amount of complaints from his customers made him think about how we would handle this. As first, he thought of wrapping it in popcorn, but he was quickly convinced that was a bad idea. So he eventually took to putting it in a German roll he had and stuffing them inside the roll.
The other story involving the roll came from Feuchtwanger. Or Mr. Feuchtwanger if you please. And seriously. I am not making this up. Evidently, the wieners were so hot, that he was lending out gloves to use for the people who would eat them. Or people were dropping the hot wieners. The cost of the missing gloves grew too expensive too quickly until his wife came up with a great idea. “Put those wieners in buns,” she said. And so he did. Another version has him selling the hot dogs at the world’s fair, and all the people in white gloves didn’t want to get their gloves dirty. So his wife came up with the roll. This second version, however, ignores the fact that the world’s fair wasn’t there until 1893 at the earliest, and hot dogs had already been finding their way into ballparks earlier that year.
Whatever the reason, and whoever the actual discoverer, we salute those who contributed to the making of the hot dog as we know it today. Whether it be crazy Germanic monks, chefs afraid of Nero, or simple hot frankfurter salesman on Coney Island, the hot dog is one of the most shared treats across the globe. Whether it is healthy for you is another thing entirely. But we all seem to want to partake in the deliciousness that is a marvel of food engineering. Do pick up one this month at a local stand and eat one. And say the Guide sent you.
We here at the Guide always like to give you something of value as well. And while I would love to write a recipe, I have yet to meet the first person who can screw up cooking a hot dog. And the moment I do, I will stay away from that person. Very far away!!! So until that moment comes, I am not sure that putting up a recipe for how to cook a hot dog would be all that good. I have seen some cool hot dog food art for kids. But I won’t be adding that here either. So I am going to list the 5 best places in Southern California to find a hot dog.
Five Best Southern California Hot Dog Places
5) Dodger Stadium –
I don’t know whether this is sacrilegious per say. You watch baseball at Dodger Stadium. You do not go for the hot dogs. And I suppose they would be right. But there is just something about getting a giant Dodger Dog on a Sunday afternoon in July that is unlike anything else. The Farmer John franks are cooked to perfection. And it’s just yummy goodness on a warm summer day. Plus you get to watch a good baseball game. What could be better than that?
4) Portillos –
Portillo’s is the equivalent of having a little bit of Chicago Style Dogs locally. They have some of the usual condiments for their wonderful dogs plus they kick it up a notch with their Chicago style flare. And if any of you know about me, I love Chicago style foods like their pizza. Mmmm! These dogs have mustard pickles, peppers, tomatoes, special relish all on a poppy seed bun. It’s the Chicago version of the dog and it’s unlike anything you will get anywhere else locally. Definitely a treat.
3) Pinks –
I know that for many of you, this would be the first choice on your hot dog heaven list. I know that I have enjoyed the Pinks hot dogs of which I partook. Serving up “fresh” hot dog choices for the last 77 years in the same place, I really do think that they are the originator of the gourmet hot dog. So for that alone, it needs to be on this list. They have tons of different toppings, tons of different types of dogs, and you can get specialized options for specialized diet restrictions there. My first encounter with Pinks was at the OC Fair in Costa Mesa. And it is deliciousness on a bun.
2) Dogzilla –
While I love Pinks, Dogzilla is just a step up from there. While they have some amazing toppings on their dogs, it’s the bun factor that kicks this up a notch. You not only have the regular buns but imagine sinking your teeth into a hot dog on some sweet Hawaiian rolls. Or some other tasty bread along with their gourmet fixings. Of course, being a food truck service you will have to find out where they are scheduled to get some of their tasty treats. But you need to stop on by once you see one. Check them out at their website on the link above.
1) Jerry’s Dogs –
There is nothing like a Jerry’s Dog. First of all, they have more combinations of hot dogs than anyone else. Various types of sausages, frankfurters, and for the ones who are vegetarian, they have a vegetarian dog option. Plus, you will never find as many different condiments, sauces, and extras for a hot dog as you will there. And what’s even better about Jerry’s is that you get to design your own. Do you want to go teriyaki style with teriyaki sauce and pineapple with onions? Or is Chicago style with bratwurst, pickles, tomatoes, and relish your thing? I actually love adding some sauteed mushrooms to mine to add to the yummy goodness of the dog. For all around Hot Dog heaven, Jerry’s is the spot.
Continue The Conversation
I suppose that many people celebrated the hot dog on the 19th, and so this is a little bit late. But it is National Hot Dog Month, so you can continue to celebrate the dog all month long with many of its various condiments. What is your favorite hot dog? What place makes the best hot dogs near you? And what condiments do you like the best? I like all kinds, but I admit that I cannot ever see me doing the blood sausage thing. I have seen them making it and bleh!!! But for those of you who love it, please don’t mind me. I am pretty adventurous when it comes to foods. Someday I will share my experience in China.
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So for those of you who liked this post, please check out some more of my fake histories of the food here at the Guide, and please follow me here as well. All subscribers to me via email will get access to the Dad Rules, 10 great tips every dad should know about and follow. If you haven’t been given the password yet, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put password up in the subject line and I will send it to you. Thanks again for stopping by.
Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life