Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


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Sunday, 23 November 2008

Le Hot Dog

The relationship between France and the USA is complex.  Despite occurrences of diplomatic abrasiveness, the fact remains that the French have a soft spot for American culture. So it is in France that one may find pinball machines in many places, American brands of cigarettes readily available in most Tabacs, and the French have long had an affection for American cars which may often be seen on the roads in France.

As for the title of this piece, yes, hot dogs are a popular snack and easily found in France.  And yes, the snack is known, probably to the great distress of the guardian of the French language, L'Académie Française, as "Le Hot Dog" and not "Le chien chaud." (Curiously, football is known as "Le Foot").

These reflections led me to investigate the subject of the hot dog.  As a snack sold in a roll, its origins have been the subject of some debate and argument, but reading the excellent site Hot Dog City reveals that the snack first appeared some time around the middle of the 19th century. The historical section of the site contains the following excellent paragraph:

The year, 1893, was an important date in hot dog history. In Chicago that year, the Colombian Exposition brought hordes of visitors who consumed large quantities of sausages sold by vendors. People liked this food that was easy to eat, convenient and inexpensive. Hot dog historian Bruce Kraig, Ph.D., retired professor emeritus at Roosevelt University, says the Germans always ate the dachshund sausages with bread. Since the sausage culture is German, it is likely that Germans introduced the practice of eating the dachshund sausages, which we today know as the hot dog, nestled in a bun.

"Hot dog historian", wonderful. The site also tells us that in US stores alone (excluding Wal-Mart) in 2007, 740,000,000 packages of hot dogs were sold.  Big business indeed since this excludes the millions sold at sporting events.

As one might expect, Wikipedia has an excellent piece on this toothsome subject, a piece that includes a picture of the world record hot dog - all 60 metres of it:

Source: Wikipedia

The hot dog is especially associated (or so I believe) with Baseball; and I have here an excellent and amusing video all about a hot dog launcher developed by the Hatfield company and used at the Philadelphia baseball ground.  High technology in action.

Makes me feel quite peckish!

Until the next time

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