When Cool Met Hot: A Chili Dog Story


When Cool Met Hot: A Chili Dog Story

It’s not exactly the first thing you think about when it comes to eating clean, but it’s the first thing you think about when it comes to an all-American food that screams of patriotism. It’s the hot dog, and it’s often the building block of July 4th Celebrations all over the country.

You can top a hot dog with ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, and just about anything you like, but nothing is more common than topping your dog with chili. The chili dog is exactly what it sounds like: a cooked hot dog covered with chili. Ever wonder who came up with the idea of mixing the two together to create that savory something special?


First: The Hot Dog


Hot dogs have been around in some form since British immigrants brought them here in the 1700s. Those dogs bore a closer resemblance to a traditional sausage. Industrialization and homogenization in the early part of the 20th century created the version that everyone knows so well today, which is more akin to a German sausage.

After becoming a staple at baseball games around the country, this mass produced tube of meat became synonymous with America. This happened despite the fact they were highly influenced by both the British and German prototypes.


Next: The Chili


As the hot dog was making its name and becoming the wiener-of-the-hour, chili was slowly getting around. Though the exact origin of chili is difficult to pinpoint, many say that it was a spicy chili-and-meat dish sold by women called “chili queens” around San Antonio, Texas in the 1870s. The popular mixture made its way north by the 1880s and was sold on restaurant menus as “chili con carne.” Chili became the perfect food for canning, and thus was shipped around the country, gaining in popularity, at the same time the hot dog was perfected.


And Finally: The Chili Dog


A restaurant chain in Michigan, called Coney Island, claims to have poured canned chili over a hot dog, added cheese and mustard, and called it special. There are documented cases of the chili dog, or Coney dog, documented in 1910, 1914, and 1922 around Detroit and downtown Cincinnati. The chili used on these dogs was laced with Greek seasonings to produce a unique taste.

In 1939, Art Elkind claimed to have invented the chili dog when a patron suggested he combine two of the separate items that he was selling from his push cart: hot dogs and chili. As Art’s Famous Chili Dogs continues to please palates in Los Angeles today, chili dog stands around New England, the Great Lakes, and the Atlantic region continue to thrive.

If you’re planning on having hot dogs over the Fourth of July, why not add chili to yours? Just skip the mass-produced canned version and go with something healthier like SoLe’ SoupS Hearty Turkey Chili. It’s one of the best ever hot dog toppings you can find. It’s a great way to celebrate food, flavor, and the Independence of all the cultures that helped create it.

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