The REAL History of the Hot Dog

in TASTEMAKERS

By Jessica D Festa

  • When were hot dogs invented, and by whom? If the approach of summer has sparked your curiosity over the history of the hot dog, get excited. You’re about to learn the fascinating past of this iconic American warm-weather treat.

  • When Were Hot Dogs Invented?
  • The story begins in 1867 Brooklyn—Coney Island, to be exact. A German immigrant named Charles Feltman was spending his days pushing a pie wagon: a humble beginning that eventually led to him owning the world’s largest restaurant. Feltman’s Ocean Pavilion consisted of nine restaurants, rides, a movie theater, a bathhouse, a hotel, and more. In order to eliminate the waste of disposable plates and cutlery, he came up with the simple but timeless idea of serving his 10-cent Frankfurt sausages on a bun, calling them “Coney Island red hots.”
  • Does this sound different from the history of the hot dog you’re familiar with? You might be thinking, “But wait! I thought Nathan’s made the world’s first hot dog?” Hold on: this history of the hot dog gets juicier. According to Coney Island tour guide and historian Michael Quinn, Nathan Handwerker of the famed Nathan’s Famous actually apprenticed for Feltman. Eventually, he opened up his own shop, which is still Nathan’s Famous, and sold his hot dogs for five cents less. Once the Depression hit, Feltman’s went under.

  • The Original Returns
  • Quinn has brought Feltman’s original all-natural nitrate-free recipe back to NYC, with a Feltman’s of Coney Island shop at their original Coney Island location and one in Manhattan. The latter resides in the East Village’s William Barnacle Tavern, an authentic speakeasy turned absinthe bar. Funnily enough, infamous gangster Al Capone used to frequent the illegal bar AND eat Feltman’s Coney Island red hots. To pay homage, Quinn offers an “Al Capone” hot dog laced with vodka sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. Eat it at the very bar where Capone himself sat.

  • Become a Grill Master Yourself
  • If you’re more than a joyride from Manhattan, you can order dogs to make at home and weave in your own cooking creativity. If you want to steam your sausages and buns, try this Hero Hot Dog Steamer. It even barks when the food is ready! Toasted is also a tasty option. For a dose of nostalgia, the Retro Series Pop-Up Hot Dog Toaster looks like it belongs in Grandma’s kitchen, but serves up perfectly crisped hot dogs and buns.
  • With the summer coming, it’s also smart to pick up some grilling tips. A BBQ Hot Dog Grill Top Roller gives your franks that perfect fiery singe while automating the workflow, continuously turning up to five hot dogs. Once they’re done, opt for high-quality fixings. To take a tip from Feltman himself: no ketchup! Instead, opt for the classic mustard, onions, and sauerkraut combo.
  • Get ready for a delicious summer!
  • This Retro Series Pop-Up Hot Dog Toaster is not only adorable, it cooks hot dogs and buns to perfection.

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