There exists no consensus on the origin of the term hot dog. One popular but largely apocryphal story posits that in 1901, a New York Evening Journal cartoonist, Tad Dorgan, was at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan, watching a New York Giants baseball game. The frankfurters sold at the game inspired him to draw a dachshund in a bun, but since he couldn’t spell dachshund, he wrote hot dog instead.
Another possible origin: a frankfurter vendor in Paterson, NJ, named Thomas Francis Xavier Morris. An interesting character, Morris was a Caribbean immigrant who had spent time in Europe as a strongman, married a European woman, and then moved Stateside, where he opened a highly popular restaurant selling franks. His nickname? “Hot Dog Morris.”
Only three things are certain when it comes to hot dogs: They’re delicious, they’re American, and they’re terrible for you. Fortunately, their unhealthiness might not be so certain anymore. We caught up with Russell van Kraayenburg, Texas food fanatic and author of hot dog–focused cookbook Haute Dogs, to teach our old dogs some new tricks.