"hot dog" origin--T.A. Dorgan etymology is still out there

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Thu Jun 19 03:03:23 UTC 2008

Today I took a look at Robert W. Bly's _All-American Frank_ (published 2007).  And rather than visit a therapist, I'm sending this message.

On pp. 12-13 Bly gives the origin of "hot dog," where he subscribes to the now totally discredited
T. A. Dorgan derivation: "The name 'hot dog' was invented by T. A. Dorgan, a cartoonist, as an abbreviated version of "red hot dachshund dog" which frank vendors yelled out in ball parks at the time.
    "This practice originated on a cold April day in 1901 at the New York Polo Grounds..." [etc., etc.]

    Not only is Bly blissfully unaware of the the 2004 book _Origin of the Term "Hot Dog"_ wirtten by Barry Popik, David Shulman and myself.  He is unaware of the various Google items which debunk the T. A. Dorgan derivation.  And in his bibliography, Bly cites David Graulich's book _The Hot Dog Companion_ (1999), where on pp. 39ff. the TAD derivation is vigorously rejected.  I'm even quoted in bold letters on p. 40, saying: "I'll pay $200 to anyone who can produce the Dorgan hot dog cartoon from the Polo Grounds." [Actually my quote to Graulich was I would pay it to the *first* person who produced it.]

    Anyway, that cartoon has never been located.  Dorgan didn't arrive in NYC (from San Francisco) until 1903.  And "hot dog" is abundantly attested in college slang, 1895ff., and so the chances that Dorgan invented the term in the early 1900's at the Polo Grounds (or anywhere else) are zero.

Gerald Cohen
gcohen at mst.edu

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list