Labor Day is usually a sign that summer is coming to an end. For some, it may be the last chance to turn the flame on the grill and get cooking. I wonder how many hot dogs and hamburgers will be eaten this weekend.
It is believed that the very first hot dog – once called ‘dachshund sausages’ – was sold by a German immigrant out of a food cart in New York in the 1860s. Around 1870, a German immigrant by the name of Charles Feltman opened the first hot dog stand on Coney Island. He sold over 3,600 frankfurters (in a bun) that year.
You may have heard that Hamburg, Germany is the home of the first hamburger. While the inspiration for the hamburger did come from Hamburg, the sandwich concept was invented much later. In the 19th century, beef from German Hamburg cows was minced and combined with garlic, onions, salt and pepper, then formed into patties (without bread or a bun) to make Hamburg steaks. These early burgers were considered gourmet and were quite pricey, given the quality of Hamburg beef. When German immigrants began arriving in New York and Chicago, many earned a living by opening restaurants. Menus frequently featured Hamburg steak, an Americanized version of the German offering. It was often the most expensive dish on the menu. During the Industrial Revolution, factory workers were served Hamburg steak from food carts. They proved difficult to eat while standing, so one creative cook sandwiched the meat patty between two slices of bread (the culinary innovator’s name has sadly been lost to history). The Hamburg sandwich was born, an evolution that boosted this food’s popularity all over the country.