Country Kitchen: Hot Dogs For Summer

Country Kitchen: Hot Dogs For Summer

By Mary Emma Allen

Hot dogs have become barbecue favorites, a quick and easy food to place on the grill and have ready in minutes during or after a busy day. However, they also are a year round food, readily prepared for picnics, hors d'oeuvres, lunch, and in casseroles.

The hot dog, or frankfurter, originated in Frankfurt, Germany (according to one story) more than 100 years ago. It supposedly was introduced into America during the 1870s or 80s.

Various Versions

One story makes the claim that this meal in a bun first was sold on the Coney Island boardwalk by a German immigrant in 1871.

Another food authority says that a Bavarian immigrant, Antoine Feuchtwanger, first sold hot franks in St. Louis during the 1880s. He also sold cotton gloves so his customers could eat the sausage-shaped meat without burning their fingers since he served them without buns.

Origin of Name

Frankfurters were popularized further by Harry S. Stevens, who ran a concession at the New York Polo grounds. He urged his vendors to walk through the stands on a cold day, calling "Red hots! Red hots!" as they sold their wares.

Finally frankfurters were called "hot dogs" after an American cartoonist depicted "red hots" as long buns, each filled with a dachshund.

A Popular Meat

Today hot dogs have become one of America's most popular processed meats. They usually are made of beef or a combination of beef and pork. Caloric consciousness has prompted hot dog manufacturers to turn to meats like turkey and chicken as the main ingredient of this food. Often, too, poultry is mixed with beef and pork.

The ground meat mixture is seasoned, then stuffed into casings and cooked. The skinless franks have their casings removed after cooking.

Regional Variations

Variations for preparing hot dogs have evolved in different parts of the country. A favorite with my grand children is Corn Dogs. These consist of hot dogs encased in a corn bread batter and then baked. These also come prepared and frozen these days. So all we have to do is pop them into the oven or microwave for final heating and cooking.

Hot dogs served with sauerkraut, either on a bun or in a casserole, has become a favorite combination, particularly in areas of the country settled by Germans.

Many Recipes for Hot Dogs

Although the most popular means of serving hot dogs is steaming, frying, or grilling them, then placing in a bun topped with mustard, catsup, and relish, perhaps chopped onion or sauerkraut, there are many other ways to prepare this food.

FRANK/COLE SLAW BUNS - These are ideal picnic fare. Sauté or grill hot dogs until heated through. Spread toasted hot dog rolls with butter and mustard. Fill them with your favorite coleslaw and top with a hot dog. Garnish with onion or sliced green pepper, if desired.

FRANKS IN BLANKETS was a favorite when I was a child. This is one variation: Cut crusts from fresh slices of white bread; wrap bread around hot dog. Then roll slices of bacon around the bread; secure with toothpicks. Bake at 400 degrees F. about 15 minutes, until bacon is crisp. The franks may be stuffed relish or various fillings before wrapping with bread.

(C) 2003 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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