Commonly known as working-class street food sold from carts, stands, and corner stores, the mighty hot dog has a rich history in America. While they may be closely tied to baseball games and American culture, especially New York City and its cuisine, or Chicago Street cuisine, the hot dog has become ubiquitous throughout the U.S. It may be served differently in every region of our nation. Still, no matter where you are from, we can all agree that a hot dog is a culturally significant part of who we are!

The word frankfurter comes from Frankfurt, Germany, where pork sausages originated. They were given to people during special events like an imperial coronations going as far back as the coronation of Maximilian II in 1564. The word “wiener” refers to Vienna, Austria, home to a sausage made of beef and pork. Johann George Lahner is credited with bringing the sausage to Vienna and starting the name frankfurter.

In the 1800s, sausage makers were constantly accused of using dog meat to make their sausages which helped to coin the term “hot dog sausage.” While those of us in the modern U.S. would turn up our noses at the idea, it was common to consume dog meat in Germany and the surrounding areas in the 18th and 19th centuries.

No one is sure who first put the hot dog on a roll, but it is generally accepted that Charles Feltman had something to do with it. In 1867, while working at Coney Island, he had a special cart made to boil hot dogs and a separate compartment to keep buns fresh. They were a huge success. In 1971 he leased land and built a permanent restaurant that sold much more than just his “Coney Island Red Hots.”

You can find many types of hot dogs! Of course, one of the more popular types is the Coney. A short hot dog in a short bun with chili, chopped onions, and a pile of finely shredded cheddar cheese. Made popular at Coney Island, these hot dogs are one of the more recognizable versions. Chicago has its own unique style. Using a poppy seed roll, they layer pickle spears, celery salt, tomatoes, whole pickled peppers, chopped onions, green relish, and mustard in the bun with their hot dog. In Germany, you will find your sausage on a plate with sauerkraut, potato salad, and mustard. In Kansas City, your hot dog is wrapped in a sesame seed bun topped with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese. They are different everywhere you go!

At River City Cafe, we have our own version as well! We top our all-beef hot dog with our homemade Texas chili, cheddar cheese, mustard, onions, and slaw for an authentic southern touch. Our hot dog is anything but small like the Coney. We call it the ‘BIG DAWG’ for a reason! Served with fries and slaw on the side, the River City Cafe hot dog is a complete meal!

At River City Cafe, we may be “all about the burger,” but we know that if you like hot dogs, you are going to love this one. Stop by and give it a try!



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