To most of us, hot dogs are intrinsically linked with the USA and baseball, but as with many foods, where they end up being the most popular doesn’t necessarily prove their origins.
In most parts of the world, the term “hot dog” refers to a cooked, smoled, or cured sausage served in 0a soft long roll with or without relishes. The type of sausage is of some importance in order to call what you’re eating a “hot dog”. They are usually frankfurters, also known as Franks, Wieners, Weenies, Dachshunds, Wiener Würstchen, or Frankfurter Würstel. Also, the bread in which the frankfurter is sold should be a long roll so that the sausage is (mostly) encased in the bread.
Now, some may disagree with the above definition, preferring to refer to just the sausage as a hot dog, however if that were the case then certainly, they were not invented in the USA .
Although the Frankfurter is thought to get its name from Frankfurt in Germany, there are also claims that the sausage known as a “dachshund” or “little-dog” was created in the late 1600’s by Johann Georghehner in Coburg, Germany. However, Frankfurt defends their claim, so much so that in 1987 its 500th birthday was celebrated in Frankfurt.
To muddy the waters even further, Vienna (Wien) in Austria also lays claim to the invention, using the term “wiener” to prove Vienna as the birthplace of the sausage.
Assuming our definition of what a hot dog is is accepted, the term “hot dog” was first coined in 1901 at the New York Polo Grounds. The story goes that on a cold day in April, a man called Harry Stevens was losing money trying to sell ice cream and ice cold soda so he sent his staff out to buy all the dachshund sausages they could find, together with an equal number of rolls and began selling them from portable hot water tanks with the hawkers attracting customers by shouting “Get your dachshund sausages while they’re red hot!”
A sports cartoonist called Tad Dorgan upon hearing the sellers, drew a cartoon of dachschund sausages in rolls barking like dogs and as he wasn’t sure of the spelling of “dachshund” he just put in the caption “hot dog!” The cartoon was a hit and the term “hot dog” was born.
The hot dog in a long bun as it is today, is attributed to a Bavarian concessionaire, Anton Feuchtwanger who introduced it in 1904 during the St. Louis “Louisiana Purchase Exposition”. The story goes that he initially loaned white gloves to his customers to hold his hot sausages however, when most of the gloves weren’t returned, his brother-in-law who was a baker, made up long soft rolls to hold the sausages.
So, depending on your definition of what a hot dog is, it’s either definitely American or of indeterminate origin.