Can't Get Enough Hot Dogs
Back in the 1940s, meat was too expensive for our family — although my mom would get a cow’s tongue sometimes, with the little bumps on it, which didn’t seem to faze us.
It was great with horseradish.
Our Saturday-night ritual was brown bread, beans and hot dogs. Some times we had chili, too. It was then that I developed an insatiable taste for hot dogs, piled with relish, mustard and onions.
To this day, I could eat hot dogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is something about a ballpark that stimulates the desire for a hot dog. Thus, for example, Fenway Franks.
In the July 29, 1984, Sunday New York Times, author Keith Hammonds wrote a piece called “What’s New For Workers Abroad,” in which he described expat trends in London, where I was stationed for almost two years.
“You get used to a style of living and it becomes very hard to leave, said Andy Thomas, a London-based executive,” he wrote. “Separately, many long for family and friends at home or for the camaraderie of the home office. Mr. Thomas admits to craving a good hot dog, a rarity here.”
British sausages, called “bangers,” were much too mild and tasteless for me. The only place I could get a better dog was at the Frankfurt train station in Germany, but they were half the size of an American hot dog.
The term “dog” has been used as a synonym for sausage since 1884, and accusations that sausage makers used dog meat date to at least 1845. In the early 20th century, consumption of dog meat in Germany was common. The suspicion that sausages contained dog meat was “occasionally justified.”
According to a myth, the use of the complete phrase “hot dog” in reference to sausage was coined by the newspaper cartoonist Thomas Aloysius “TAD” Dorgan around 1900 in a cartoon recording the sale of hot dogs during a New York Giants baseball game at the Polo Grounds.
However, TAD’s earliest usage of “hot dog” was not in reference to a baseball game at the Polo Grounds, but to a bicycle race at Madison Square Garden, made in The New York Evening Journal Dec. 12, 1906, by which time the term “hot dog” in reference to sausage was already in use.
The earliest known usage of “hot dog” in clear reference to sausage, found by Fred R. Shapiro, appeared in the Dec. 31, 1892, issue of The Paterson (N.J.) Daily Press. The story concerned a local traveling vendor, Thomas Francis Xavier Morris, also known as “Hot Dog Morris.”
I look forward to Pinecrest’s football, basketball and baseball seasons not only because the entertainment value is exceptionally great, but also because I can usually get my dinner there in the form of two hot dogs.
The Fourth of July is the hot dog’s zenith. Between the parades, the fireworks, and the Coney Island hot dog-eating contest, Americans will consume more than 150 million franks, which, as the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council points out, is enough to stretch from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., more than five times.
There are so many varieties on the supermarkets shelves that it is hard to choose: beef, chicken, turkey, low-fat, skinless, etc. One of my foremost requirements is that the casing must “snap” when you bite into it. I think a boiled dog is much better than a grilled one. But, in all honesty, I’m not that choosy.
About the only place I resisted a hot dog was MetLife (Giants) Stadium, where they were almost $10 each.
Andy Thomas lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at dahtmuth58 @aol.com.
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