Americans love hot dogs. Every year we eat about 7 billion of them between Memorial Day and Labor Day alone. And the typical American eats about 60 a year.

Where do hot dogs come from (aside from ballpark vendors, of course)? Their origins are shrouded in mystery.

Some sources say they date back to the first century, when the Roman emperor Nero’s cook first experimented with stuffing the intestines of pigs with spiced meats.

The word “frankfurter” comes from Frankfurt, Germany, where pork sausages in buns are said to have been served in the 15th century; “wiener” is from Vienna (Wien), home to pork sausages originally called “wienerwurst” (Vienna sausage) in the 1800s.

In the United States, a German immigrant named Charles Feltman is credited with selling sausages in rolls around the year 1870, in Coney Island, New York.

Another German native, Antonoine Feuchtwanger, is said to have sold sausages in St. Louis at around the same time, offering a split bun to hold them at the suggestion of his wife.

And the term “hot dog” itself? That’s similarly disputed. According to one of the more popular tales, a newspaper cartoonist in 1900 drew a picture of a frankfurter with legs, a tail, and a head, but unable to spell “Dachshund,” dubbed it a “hot dog.” The story is disputed, however.

What’s beyond doubt is that hot dogs are the meal of choice for lots of hungry people around the world — whatever condiments they want to load them up with.

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