Eli, observing the package of Oscar Mayer hot dogs on the counter: Mom, aren’t hot dogs pig meat?
Me: Sometimes they’re pork, but they can also be beef, chicken or turkey.
Eli: Oh…yeah…this package says chicken, turkey AND pork. I wonder where the term “hot dogs” came from? Do you know?
Me: Not really…(normally, I’d offer to look it up, but I was busy researching something else)
Silence. When my talkative child is quiet, I know something interesting is coming up.
Eli: You know what would be weird? If “hot dogs” used to actually be made of dog meat, but then they stopped doing that, because everyone became alarmed by how many dogs were dying.
When I finished laughing, I said that would, indeed, be weird, but assured him that hot dogs were never made of dog meat.
Eli: Well, then, would you PLEASE look it up? Because I really HAVE to know why they’re called hot dogs!
So, I looked it up. Lots of theories abound, but this one from World Wide Words seems the most plausible: What seems to have happened is that near the end of the nineteenth century, around 1894-95, students at Yale University began to refer to the wagons selling hot sausages in buns as dog wagons. One at Yale was even given the nickname of “The Kennel Club”. It was only a short step from this campus use of dog to hot dog, and this fateful move was made in a story in the issue of the Yale Record for 19 October 1895, which ended, “They contentedly munched hot dogs during the whole service”.