"Hot dog" cartoon

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Fri Jun 25 23:32:35 UTC 1999

   In a  June 25 message Joseph McCcllum passed along the standard (albeit
incorrect) derivation of "hot dog" from an early 20th century cartoon by
T.A. Dorgan;  this standard story was  presented on the Paul Harvey show.

    This etymology can be conclusively disproven:

1) The cartoonist, T.A. Dorgan (TAD) , arrived in New York City from San
Francisco in  1903, to work for the newspaper _New York Evening Journal_.

2) "Hot dog" (=hot frankfurter) is well attested in collegiate publications
of the late 1890s.

3) The frequently cited T.A. Dorgan "hot dog" cartoon from the Polo Grounds
does not exist.
In a meticulous study,  Leonard Zwilling  (an editor and bibliographer for
DARE) examined all of TAD's cartoons  and notified me that the alleged Polo
Grounds cartoon does not exist.  Please note:  nobody has ever  identified
the date of the alleged Polo Grounds "hot dog" cartoon and certainly no one
has ever reproduced it.

   What do exist are two TAD "hot dog" cartoons  (Dec. 12 and 13, 1906)  in
the context of an unwholesome 6-day bike-race at Madison Square Garden .
But by this time "hot dog" was well attested in college slang.

    As a footnote, might I give due credit:  the late Peter Tamony was the
first person to do serious research on "hot dog," drawing attention to the
19th century popular belief (with some truth!) that dog meat occasionally
turned up in sausages.  David  Shulman furthered the study in a big way
when he insisted that the key to the origin of "hot dog"  is to be found in
college slang (not in Coney Island, as I had been arguing after being
persuaded by a false lead).  And finally, Barry Popik was the one who piled
into the subject and discovered the early attestations in the college

----Gerald Cohen

>The newscaster Paul Harvey in "The Rest of the Story" claimed an origin
>of the term "hot dog."  I don't remember what date it was, but I want to
>say that his earliest cite of "hot dog" was from a sports cartoon, not
>from a collegiate magazine story.  I also want to say that stadium
>vendors wanted a short expression for their delicacy.

gcohen at umr.edu

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