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  • Gloria Hoffner

Summer time eating

Hot dogs on the grill, at the baseball game and spinning seemingly forever on the spit at the movie theater may be as American as apple pie, but they didn’t originate in the U.S.A.

Historians believe the humble hot dog began with the Roman Emperor Nero whose cook, Gaius, created the first sausage. During Gaius lifetime, it was common to starve pigs one week before slaughter. Gaius was roasting a pig and noticed the insides had not been cleaned. He stuck his knife into the roast pig and pulled out an empty intestine because the pig had not eaten before killing.

Gaius decided to stuff the intestines with meat, spices and wheat and thus created the first sausage.

This new food sensation caught on throughout Europe including the future Germany. Thousands of new sausage varieties were created in Germany including the hot dog.

Two towns claim to be the birthplace of the hot dog. Frankfurt claims the frankfurter was invented there over 500 years ago, in 1484: eight years before Columbus set sail for America. But the people of Vienna (Wien, in German) say they are the true originators of the “wienerwurst.”

In either case, it is German immigrants to New York were the first to sell wieners, from a pushcart, in the 1860s.

If you prefer ketchup on your hot dog, do you know who invented ketchup? The answer is the Chinese. Their creation had no tomatoes. It was made from fermented fish sauce in southern China beginning in 300 B.C. Called “ge-thcup” it stored well and was traded in Indonesia and the Philippines.

The British learned of the taste in the 1700s where the recipe changes. They made ketchups from oysters, mussels, mushrooms, walnuts, lemons, celery and even fruits like plums and peaches. The process required boiling the components into a syrup-like consistency or left to sit with salt for extended periods of time.

The commemorative “Prince of Wales” ketchup, meanwhile, was made from elderberries and anchovies. It was in 1812 when the first recipe for tomato ketchup made its debut in America. James Mease, a Philadelphia scientist, wrote that the choicest ketchup came from “love apples,” as they were then called. Prior to this when tomato plants came to England from South America in the 1500s, but originally people thought tomatoes were poisonous.


How many hot dogs do Americans eat? Answer - The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council reports each year we buy over 837 million packages of hot dogs at retail outlets, and over 24 million hot dogs at baseball stadiums alone.

Who is Nathan Handwerker? Answer - A Jewish immigrant from Poland who in 1915 worked at a hot dog stand at Coney Island earning $11 a week slicing buns. The hardworking Handwerker lived entirely on hot dogs and slept on the kitchen floor for a year until he’d saved $300 and started a competing hot dog stand.

How did Nathan win over customers? Answer - He knew his former boss charged 10 cents apiece for dogs, so he charged only 5 cents. Customers flocked to him, his competitor went out of business, and Nathan’s Famous was born.

How did hot dogs go national? Answer – President Franklin Roosevelt hosted King George VI of England and his queen at a picnic in Hyde Park in 1939, first lady Eleanor decided to make grilled hot dogs part of the menu, a choice that received much press coverage at the time.

Did King George like hot dogs? Answer – Yes. He enjoyed them so much he asked for seconds.

What country is the origin of ketchup? Answer – China.

How much ketchup do Americans eat each year? Answer - 71 pounds.

How much beef do Americans eat each year? Answer - 61 pounds of beef .

How much cheese? Answer - 9 billion pounds of American cheese, the U.S. favorite.

How much lettuce? Answer - $2.2 billion worth of lettuce.

Experiment: What is the best way to remove ketchup from the bottle? If you and your residents have trying hitting the bottle, shaking the bottle and finally putting a knife inside the bottle, here is a fun and scientific method for coating your hot dog.

Materials: Three full traditional ketchup bottles, three plates, a kitchen timer and three volunteers.

Process: Give each volunteer a bottle and a plate and seat them as a panel. With other residents watching, say ready, set, go and give each two minutes to get ketchup on the plate. Record who is fastest and how they did it.

Result: There is a scientific way to coat that hot dog. Anthony Stickland, a senior lecturer in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering who has researched solid-liquid separation and suspension rheology (an area of physics that contends with the deformation and flow of matter), has suggested that his field of study provides the key to getting ketchup to flow perfectly from the bottle with nary a splat or sputter.

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