off-topic? Another question on hot dogs

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Tue Jul 27 12:44:23 UTC 1999

Andrea wrote:

> Now that we are all well-versed on the origin of term "hot dog", thanks to Barry
> Popik and others, I was wondering if anyone knew when and where the sausage we
> now call the hot dog originated.
> Now, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council has a history - should I believe
> it?

Believe their history -- i.e., the history of the NHD&SC -- if you must,
but there are more things wrong with their alleged history of the hot
dog than their story of the term's invention.

At least they raise a possibility I have followed for many years.  You
may find it a little hard to believe the report I give below, but I can
attest to the story's authenticity. (I'm not in a position to verify the
factual accuracy of the history involved.)  As it happens, I say with
some modesty,  the second pedantic professor of the tale just happens to
be an anthropologist with the unbelievable name of Mike Salovesh.

At a concert of the music of P.D.Q. Bach, Professor Peter Schickele
demonstrated an instrument which he called an "Oscar Mayer Wiener
Whistle".  It was an instrument made of red plastic, in the well-known
shape of a dachshund sausage, or pointless crescent moon. (Schickele did
not comment on the pointlessness of the instrument, so I won't, either.)
Professor Schickele alleged that P.D.Q. Bach's Concerto for bagpipe and
Oscar Mayer Weiner Whistle commemorated the composer's blue period,
attributed to his stay in Vienna (i.e., Wien), the home of the Wiener
Whistle.  All scholars agree that it has nothing to do with P.D.Q.
Bach's apocryphal residence in Wine on Rhine, supposedly the source of
his love of Rhine Wine.

It is interesting to note that the label "blue period" was attached to
that part of P.D.Q. Bach's life by an  ancestor of the Strauss family,
of waltzing fame.  The Strauss family, afflicted with a congenital form
of color-blindness, called everything blue.  They even went so far as to
misname one of their waltzes in the same tradition.  Despite their
famous waltz, where the Danube passes Vienna its color may range in
color from diarrhea brown to sickly green to crude-oil black, but only a
color-blind Strauss would see a "blue" Danube.

During the question period, a pedant in the audience (who is known to
dabble in both ethnomusicology and linguistics despite suffering from an
incurable case of anthropology) produced his own musical instrument.  He
pointed out that the instrument did, indeed, bear the label "Oscar
Mayer".  (The words are the same color as the instrument itself,
produced by the deliberate absence of color within a band of flaking
yellow paint.)  He then proceeded to demonstrate that this two-holed
instrument could produce an approximation of a six-toned scale even in
the hands of an amateur much less skilled than the legendarily inept
P.D.Q. Bach.

This professor insisted that both his own and Professor Schickele's
exemplars of the so-called Oscar Mayer Wiener Whistle were 20th century
forgeries. He forebore seeking analysis of the instrument's red plastic
body in order to preserve the musicality of the instrument, but he had
commissioned a chemical analysis of the flaking yellow paint of the
central band on his own instrument. The analysis proved that the paint
was a 20th century by-product of an obscure Milwaukee brewery.  (The
brewery had failed in its attempt to displace Pabst Blue Ribbon with
their own Yellow Ribbon Beer.  All they had to show for it was the paint
factory they acquired to cut down on the cost of yellow ribbons. They
narrowly averted bankruptcy by convincing Oscar Mayer himself to adopt a
negative yellow-on-red combination as the colors of his company logo.
The sausage magnate already had all the red dye he needed, left over
from manufacturing the sausages.  The Yellow Ribbon Beer people sold him
all their yellow paint.)

The infamous concerto for bagpipe and whistle originally had nothing to
do with Oscar Mayer, or wieners, or Vienna.  The original clearly was
scored for the diminutive Frankfurter Fife, an instrument which P.D.Q.
Bach was accused of playing during his exile in Frankfurt-off-Main.  The
20th century Oscar Mayer forgeries were an attempt by the sausage makers
to claim a spurious priority on the invention of hot dogs through their
well known connections to Vienna.  (They were astute enough to eschew
any claims to having invented canned Vienna sausage, which is never
eaten voluntarily by sentient beings.)

Schickele and this upstart pedant actually came to blows over the
question.  Each of them blew the two-note cadenza from the P.D.Q. Bach
concerto to demonstrate the validity of his claim.

Well, at least the folks at the National Hot Dog and Sassage Council
recognize that Frankfurt and Vienna still contest for the honor of
inventing a delicacy that would eventually lead to Barry Popik's rise to
etymological obscurity.

Nobody could have anticipated the absolute invisibility of Barry's
masterful TRUE history of the name of that bun-wrapped sausage that was
never immortalized in a Tad Dorgan cartoon.

But that's life in the Big Apple.  (Gee, I wonder where that name came
from . . .  )

--  mike salovesh             <salovesh at>        PEACE !!!

P.S.:  If there are any among you who doubt this story, I have the proof
right here in the form of my highly treasured 20th century Oscar Mayer
Wiener Whistle.  If my wife weren't awake to object, I'd even make and
transmit a .WAV recording of all two notes of P.D.Q. Bach's whistle
cadenza. You'll have to imagine it for yourself.  It doesn't really
matter which note you play first; the cadenza is in palindromic form.
The true genius of P.D.Q. Bach is reflected in his ability to play two,
and only two, different notes and still produce a palindrome. Well, at
least it sounds just as good when played back to front as it does when
played front to Bach.  (I mean no affront to Bach, of course.)

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