For millions of Americans, summer means more hot dogs in their diet.

And it seemingly always has.

The hot dog, or frankfurter, was culturally imported from Germany, but was instantly popularized in the United States, where it became synonymous with the working-class. As a top-selling street food at hot dog stands and carts, the cased meat treat also became the food face of warm weather baseball games, amusement parks, and all things American culture.

No one particular person is credited with inventing the steamed sausage roll we know today, but the earliest references of the word “hot dog” date to the late 19th century (1893) in the New Brunswick (New Jersey) Daily Times and the New York World.

Anyone who has ever grown up knows there are unfortunate photos and experiences of our past we wish no one would ever see (Think: Hammer pants, frosted tips, or anything with glitter). The hot dog is no different. More than a hundred years of history have seen the humble hot dog go through some pretty frightening fads.

Take a look at these vintage hot dog ads, and you’ll be sure to appreciate your simple ketchup-topped all beef or vegan dog this summer.

Hot dogs on potato salad might not be terrible if the wieners weren’t cut to look like caterpillars. This diagram gives up to six ways to give a disgusting presentation.

Skinless wieners made a highly suggestive splash one summer.

At some point, hot dogs made the Weight Watchers approved list of foods — they hadn’t started to care about salt intake apparently.

Okay, most of these Coke created dogs from 1978 would still fly today — although #3 has a weird addition of olives that sounds questionable.

Mmm. Sliced hot dogs in cream of celery soup makes for a magnificent stew!

Again with the olives! See the full recipes for this beauty here.

Because three processed foods are better than one.

Does combining hot dogs and breakfast cereal make this a mid-century brunch specialty?

This would still happily be eaten today. French’s Mustard has known all along, simple is best.

For that kid in the family who won’t eat anything besides hot dogs…

Wieners wraps for everyone! A basic pig-in-a-blanket isn’t so bad. But claiming “4 different meals” is a bit of a stretch.

French’s dresses up dogs with a mustard based barbecue sauce. This one probably only looks gross.

This Frankfurter cream casserole gives hot dog recipes a bad name.

 Hot dogs have welcomed their place in the blue-collar diet, so why try to fancy it up with truly horrifying jello molds?

Hopefully, hot dogs have finished going through their growing pains and will have a more respectable 21st century.


For creative but simple hot dog condiments, visit everybodycravespantry.com.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.