Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Daniel Fromson's got a fascinating piece o'er at the Atlantic about the hot dog. While you're gobbling 20 down Kobyashi style at the next neighbourhood picnic, take a look at what you're eating and remember the sausage's not-so-glamourous past as the nation's most vilified tube steak.

Until FDR declared it to be of his most favourite of foods, eventually serving it to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on their visit to the US, the hot dog was a ill-regarded commodity.  Vendors even tried to have the sausage renamed so that people wouldn't think it was made from dog meat, trying on new nicknames like "hot pig and cow." As Fromson writes:
"Newspaper articles from the early 1900s often make hot dogs, despite their widespread consumption at the time, seem like the lowest of the low. These were not plump Ball Park Franks you might squirt with primary-colored condiments and give to your five-year-old. They were gritty symbols of booze, drug dealers, and adulterated food."

There's 12 fascinating excerpts from newspapers from that period. Our fave? Check out "Nine Deaths Follow Dinner of 'Hot Dog' and Pussy Goes Wild," from the Atlantic Constitution on May 31, 1921:
A local society woman had a cook who was fond of the lowly wiener. She also thought her mistress might like a bit. The mistress emphatically did not and proceeded to feed the sausage to her pet kitten. The kitten grew furious after eating the 'dog' and after attacking the woman and lacerating her finger, died. Authorities are examining the head for rabies.

Read it here.

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