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A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, Ben asks: "Who invented the hot dog?"


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Hi, I'm Craig, but you can call me hot dog! And this is Mental Floss on YouTube. You don't have to call me hot dog. You don't even have to talk to me, actually. Today I'm gonna answer Ben's big question. "Who invented the hot dog?"

Ben, you've really made things hard for us here at Mental Floss, because there aren't many things in this world as controversial as your question, but I respect your thirst for knowledge - and I like talking a lot - so I'm gonna try to answer it anyway. Let's get started!

(the big question Mental Floss intro reel)

It goes without saying that the hot dog has an ancestor - the sausage. Unfortunately, we don't know who invented the sausage because it has been around forever. Maybe not forever, forever... But it was mentioned in Homer's The Odyssey, which was written around 8th century BCE.

The ancient Romans also ate sausage, thanks to Emperor Nero's chef, Gaius, who is credited with popularizing the dish. Also, I'm pretty sure Porkins from Star Wars had some hot dogs, and that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. You know what I'm talking about.

Moving forward in time, and across the continent, people from Germany and Austria embraced sausages as part of their cuisine. And here's where we have a sausage schism. Sausage schism! Two European towns believe that they are responsible for the hot dog - Frankfurt and Vienna.

The people of Frankfurt say that the hot dog was invented there in 1487 - this is, of course, how we got the word frankfurter. The people in Vienna, on the other hand, say that the hot dog was invented by two Austro-Hungarian immigrants, Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany. They lived in Vienna, then moved to Chicago where they sold their hot dogs at the 1893 worlds fair. Even if these weren't the first hot dogs, they were probably the first Chicago-style hot dogs. The pair ended up founding Vienna Beef, a hot dog manufacturer that remains in Chicago today.

By the way, Vienna is also know as Wien in German, so that's where we got the term wiener. Tee-hee-hee! It's okay, you can laugh. I knew we wouldn't get through a whole video about sausages without you laughing. Just keep it down, okay?

Anyway, if this hasn't been confusing enough, I'm gonna throw another name out there - Johann Georghehner- Georghehner. We couldn't find a pronunciation on- on the internet, for how to pronounce Georghehner.

He has also been credited with invented the hot dog in Germany. Johann was a butcher living in Colberg in the 1600s and some claim that it was actually him who brought the hot dog to Frankfurt, which would have been much later in time than they claim the hot dog was invented. See? Confusing.

So I guess the answer to your question, Ben, is - Europeans. Europeans invented the hot dog. As for the rest, you're just gonna have to go with your gut on this one. (laughs)

(the big question Mental Floss transition screen)

If you have a big question of your own that you'd like answered, leave it in the comments below. Thanks for watching Mental Floss on YouTube, and when you see our video next week, click on the... Link. Get it? 'Cause sausage link? We're very clever. I need a hot dog.

(end screen)