Thursday, December 9, 2004
Did Hot Dog and French’s Mustard Debut as a Duo in 1904? No.
By ROGER M. GRACE
On the Internet, at www.frenchs.com, a timeline is presented. The entry for 1904 reads:
“French’s introduces its mustard with its sidekick the hot dog at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, MO.”
At www.frenchsfoodservice.com, aimed at restaurants and the like, it’s declared:
“French’s Mustard was introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis helping to popularize a new culinary creation: the hot dog.”
This pretty much parallels the statement in a recent press release I quoted last week which represented:
“...French’s Cream Salad Mustard made it’s debut in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair along with it’s side kick, the hot dog. Both were an instant success!”
Another press release claimed: “Americans first fell in love with FRENCH’S® mustard during the summer of 1904, when the zippy yellow sauce become forever ‘linked’ with the brand-new American classic, the hot dog.”
The image thus created is that French’s Cream Salad Mustard (now called “Classic Yellow”) and the hot dog each had its premier at the 1904 world’s fair, appearing as a team. Not so.
To begin with, the hot dog did not make its entrance at that fair—also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (celebrating, one year late, the 100th anniversary of the U.S.’s massive land acquisition from France.)
Hot dogs were, indeed, sold at the 1904 exposition, although most were no doubt hawked as “frankfurters,” the term “hot dogs” only recently having been coined. Frankfurters were by then a customary item at fairs as well as being an entrée on the menus of numerous restaurants and stands.
It cannot be doubted that hot dogs were “popularized” at the 1904 extravaganza, held from April 30 through Dec. 1. Many who had traveled from areas within the U.S. and from outside sampled that sausage for the first time there and, after they left, craved more of it. This had nothing to do with French’s Mustard, a product touted at the fair as an ingredient to be used in salad dressings, not as a topping for sausages.
Ellyn Small, publicist for French’s Mustard, conceded Tuesday that there is no “quote, unquote, documentation” that “Joe White,” at the fair, applied French’s Mustard to a hot dog. She said it’s inferred from the fact that hot dogs and French’s Mustard “were both at that fair.”
The history of the hot dog was chronicled here on March 25. The column appears on the Internet at:
As I recounted in that column, the frankfurter is believed to have been created in Frankfurt, Germany in 1487. Austrians dispute that, insisting it was created in Wien, which we call Vienna. Hence, the sausage is also known as “wieners” (or, in cans, as “Vienna sausages.”)
Franks were sold in St. Louis at least 37 years before the exposition there. Chris von der Ahe, a German immigrant, in 1867 purchased a baseball team, the St. Louis Browns—now the Baltimore Orioles—and frankfurters were peddled at the games.
They were served at the Coney Island amusement park in New York City since 1871 when Charles Feltman, a German-American butcher, opened his stand. Vendors sold the sausage in 1893 at the “Columbian Exposition,” AKA the Chicago World’s Fair.
A perusal of old newspapers shows that frankfurters were far from a “new culinary creation” in 1904.
The Woodland (Calif.) Daily Democrat on May 5, 1891 carried an ad advising that The Reception Saloon offered “Hot Frankfurter Sausages at all hours.”
At Strodel & Son, you could purchase “Frankfurter Sausage in a can” for an unspecified sum, according to the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Evening Sentinel on June 15, 1900.
“Frankfurter sausage” was on sale for 30 cents a pound at Booth’s market, a Nov. 29, 1901 ad in the Anaconda (Montana) Standard trumpeted.
The Dec. 12, 1903 issue of the Daily News (of Frederick, Md.) announced, in an ad, the “fresh arrival of frankfurters” at Dixon Bros. The Feb. 27, 1904 edition advised that frankfurters would be among the dishes served that night at City Hotel Grill, and that at Doll’s, there would be “a regular meal” including a course of “Boiled Kraut with Frankfurters.”
“All Frankfurters and Balognes” were being sold for ten cents each at Vecsey & Molhony’s grocery and meat market, according to an ad in the March 4, 1904 edition of the Trenton (N.J.) Times. The menu of the Ready Lunch Co. in Trenton appeared as an ad on the front page of the Nov. 4, 1904 edition. It showed frankfurters being sold for 5 cents each, and frankfurters and “sour kraut” for a dime.
The franks-meet-French’s-at-the-fair fable will be scrutinized further next week. It will be seen that mustard and franks were no strangers prior to the 1904 fair—and that odds are that what mustard was splashed on hot dogs sold on the fairgrounds was not made by French.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company
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