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A hot dog (also spelled hotdog) is a food consisting of a grilled or steamed sausage served in the slit of a partially sliced bun. It can also refer to the sausage itself. The sausage used is the wiener (Vienna sausage) or frankfurter (Frankfurter Würstchen, also just called frank). The names of these sausages also commonly refer to their assembled dish. Hot dog preparation and condiments vary worldwide. Typical condiments include mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, relish, and cheese sauce, and common garnishes include onions, sauerkraut, jalapeños, chili, grated cheese, coleslaw, bacon, and olives. Hot dog variants include the corn dog and pigs in a blanket. The hot dog's cultural traditions include the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

These types of sausages were culturally imported from Germany and became popular in the United States. It became a working-class street food in the U.S., sold at stands and carts. The hot dog became closely associated with baseball and American culture. Although particularly connected with New York City and its cuisine, the hot dog eventually became ubiquitous throughout the US during the 20th century. Its preparation varies regionally in the country, emerging as an important part of other regional cuisines, including Chicago street cuisine.

he word "frankfurter" comes from Frankfurt, Germany, where pork sausages similar to hot dogs originated. These sausages, Frankfurter Würstchen, were known since the 13th century and given to the people on the event of imperial coronations, starting with the coronation of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor as King. "Wiener" refers to Vienna, Austria (German: Wien), home to a sausage made of a mixture of pork and beef. Johann Georg Lahner, an 18th/19th century butcher from the Franconian city of Coburg, is said to have brought the Frankfurter Würstchen to Vienna, where he added beef to the mixture and simply called it Frankfurter. Nowadays, in German-speaking countries, except Austria, hot dog sausages are called Wiener or Wiener Würstchen (Würstchen means "little sausage"), to differentiate them from the original pork-only mixture from Frankfurt. In Swiss German, it is called Wienerli, while in Austria the terms Frankfurter or Frankfurter Würstel are used.

A German immigrant named Feuchtwanger, from Frankfurt, in Hesse, allegedly pioneered the practice in the American midwest; there are several versions of the story with varying details. According to one account, Feuchtwanger's wife proposed the use of a bun in 1880: Feuchtwanger sold hot dogs on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, and provided gloves to his customers so that they could handle the sausages without burning their hands. Losing money when customers did not return the gloves, Feuchtwanger's wife suggested serving the sausages in a roll instead. In another version, Antoine Feuchtwanger, or Anton Ludwig Feuchtwanger, served sausages in rolls at the World's Fair – either at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, or, earlier, at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, in Chicago – again, allegedly because the white gloves provided to customers to protect their hands were being kept as souvenirs.

Another possible origin for serving the sausages in rolls is the pieman Charles Feltman, at Coney Island in New York City. In 1867 he had a cart made with a stove on which to boil sausages, and a compartment to keep buns in which they were served fresh. In 1871 he leased land to build a permanent restaurant, and the business grew, selling far more than just the "Coney Island Red Hots" as they were known.

Common hot dog sausage ingredients include:

Pork and beef are the traditional meats used in hot dogs. Less expensive hot dogs are often made from chicken or turkey, using low-cost mechanically separated poultry. Changes in meat technology and dietary preferences have led manufacturers to lower the salt content and use turkey, chicken, and vegetarian meat substitutes.

Commercial preparation

Hot dogs are prepared commercially by mixing the ingredients (meats, spices, binders and fillers) in vats where rapidly moving blades grind and mix the ingredients in the same operation. This mixture is forced through tubes into casings for cooking. Most hot dogs sold in the US are "skinless" rather than "natural casing" sausages.

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