Where Do Hot Dogs Come From? Babylonia!
Typically American snacks may not be typically American. Here’s a short history of snacks.
If you are among the millions of Americans who enjoy hot dogs or ice cream you know they are as much American as apple pie. But what would you say if these delectable snacks, and others like them, weren’t American at all; not even apple pie? And some that we might of thought were certainly of foreign origin were born right here in the good old U.S. of A?
Try the Quiz
First, try this quiz. Match the following list of snacks with their country or region of origin from the list that follows.
1. Potato chips
3. Hot dogs
9. Ice Cream
Now, read on to see how well you did.
POTATO CHIPS – U.S.
Did you pair potato chips with the U.S.? While you might have quickly assumed that the chip was an offshoot of the French fry (it is), the chips we enjoy today were actually invented in New York by an American Indian, George Crum. A restaurant chef, Crum was trying to placate a finicky customer who disliked his French fries. After repeated attempts to please his guest Crum gave up and in spite cooked the fries to a crisp only to find that the guest liked them. The rest, as they say, is history.
PRETZELS – ITALY
Pretzels may be the only food that saved a city from losing a war. Created by an Italian monk who formed the shape of the pretzel to reflect the shape of children’s hands folded in prayer, the delicacy quickly spread all over Europe and beyond. Its fame was secured when the pretzel helped defeat the Turkish warrior Babar as his hordes conquered India and parts of Europe. When they reached Vienna, the Mongols were thwarted when they tried to get over the walls of the city. So, they devised a plan to tunnel under the walls during the night. What they didn’t know was that Viennese pretzel makers, who typically worked from midnight to dawn, heard the Mongol’s digging and sounded the alarm. The Mongols were driven off and the pretzel makers were honored and given their own coat of arms with – you guessed it, a pretzel emblem.
HOT DOG – BABYLONIA
Yes, the hot dog isn’t a native species, as unpatriotic as that may seem. It was the Babylonians almost 3500 years ago who stuffed animal intestines with spiced meat. The Greeks and Romans adopted the culinary delight and brought it to Europe where butchers shaped it and gave it names that reflected the locations – such as Vienna sausage and frankfurter, or “dachshund sausage” in the latter case because its shape resembled the canine critter. It was also the latter that ‘translated’ to hot dog when it came to the U.S. in the 1890s.
HAMBURGER – ASIA
What later evolved into hamburger was actually a popular item among the Tartars in Asia during the Middle Ages. The shredded meat they cooked (hence Tartar Steak) was brought to Germany where it was made with low-grade beef, which became suitable, and affordable, for the poor. It was in Hamburg, Germany where it became most popular and was given the name we know it by today.
KETCHUP – ROME
The earliest ancestors of ketchup weren’t exactly the condiment we know and love today. Around 300 B.C., the Romans combined vinegar, oil, pepper and anchovy paste as a flavoring for fish or poultry. By the 1600s the Chinese took a step closer to the modern day ketchup with a spicy sauce they called ke-tsiap, later shortened to kechap. However, it was another hundred years before New Englanders used tomatoes to make the sauce.
PANCAKE – EGYPT
If you’ve been thinking of pancakes as the mix that comes in boxes with old southerly smiling faces on them, guess again. The Egyptians get the credit for pancakes when around 2600 they invented the oven and baked into flat sheets a “pancake” made of a gruel. Aunt Jemima certainly had a better idea.
PASTA – CHINA
Mama Mia! Surely, you’re saying, pasta is of Italian heritage. Nope! It was the Chinese some 3,000 years ago who created pasta and made it from rice and bean flower. We can credit Italian Marco Polo’s father and uncle for bringing the Chinese recipe to Italy and popularizing it internationally.
DOUGHNUT (OR DONUT) – HOLLAND
The first doughnut didn’t have a center hole, something that was added (or subtracted) later by American-Dutch bakers. But, it was in Holland where something called an “oil cake” was created in the 16th century with dough that was sweetened and sugared.
ICE CREAM – CHINA
Long before there were freezers or Baskin-Robbins, the Chinese created a dish from a paste made of overcooked rice, spices and milk. The whole concoction was then packed in snow. Later they started making fruit ices – a much better idea than eating snow-packed food in winter, right? The delicacy found its way to Italy, again thanks to Marco Polo and others, and spread to the rest of Europe and the world.
PIE – GREECE
Homemade pie, anyone? What more American image is there than mom and apple pie? Maybe a Greek pie? The Greeks perfected the “artocreas,” a meat or fish pie with a baked crust on the bottom. The Romans added the idea of a top and bottom crust filled with honey, spices and cheese. The pie as we know it now, comes from Elizabethan times when English bakers used fruit at the request of the queen.
Did you get all 10 correct? Why not treat yourself. Ice cream, anyone?
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