Few foods are considered more quintessentially American than juicy hot dogs, fresh off the grill. However, did you know that the backyard barbecue staple is actually European? While it’s impossible to say who really “invented” the popular snack or where it came from, experts say hot dogs likely originated in Vienna, Austria, or Frankfurt, Germany. If this trivia bit blew your mind, here are seven other fascinating facts about the tasty barbecue staple.
1. THE HOT DOG’S TRUE ORIGINS ARE A MYSTERY.
Essentially, hot dogs are a modern-day twist on the humble sausage—a food that has some seriously ancient roots. Sausages were mentioned in Homer’s The Odyssey, and Emperor Nero’s chef, Gaius, is said to have prepared them for his ruler.
Centuries later, someone got the idea to put the meaty treats on buns—but who?
To this day, several conflicting claims exist. According to the Austrian city of Vienna, two Austro-Hungarian immigrants, Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany, invented the hot dog in their fair town. When the two men left Europe for Chicago, they took the recipe with them, and sold hot dogs at the 1893 World’s Fair. Later, Reichel and Ladany founded a famous beef production company that’s still churning out hot dogs today.
Meanwhile, officials in Frankfurt, Germany, say that hot dogs were invented in their city in 1487. And according to a third tale, a butcher named Johann Georghehner, who lived in Coburg, Germany, invented the hot dog during the late 1600s, and traveled to Frankfurt to promote his new food.