Monday, August 30, 2010
Hot dogs and Hot Dogging- Origins
Claims about hot dog invention are difficult to assess, as stories assert the creation of the sausage, the placing of the sausage (or another kind of sausage) on bread or a bun as finger food, the popularization of the existing dish, or the application of the name "hot dog" to a sausage and bun combination most commonly used with ketchup or mustard and sometimes relish.
The city of Vienna traces the lineage of the hot dog to the Wienerwurst or Viennese sausage, the city of Frankfurt to the Frankfurter Wurst, which claims was invented in the 1480s and given to the people on the event of imperial coronations, starting with the coronation of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor as King; the hot dog has also been attributed to Johann Georg Lahner, a 18th/19th century butcher from the Bavarian city of Coburg who is said to have invented the "dachshund" or "little-dog" sausage and brought it from Frankfurt to Vienna.
Around 1870, on Coney Island, German immigrant Charles Feltman began selling sausages in rolls. Others have supposedly invented the hot dog. The idea of a hot dog on a bun is ascribed to the wife of a German named Antonoine Feuchtwanger, who sold hot dogs on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1880, because his customers kept taking the white gloves handed to them for eating without burning their hands. Anton Ludwig Feuchtwanger, a Bavarian sausage seller, is said to have served sausages in rolls at the World's Fair–either the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago or the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis–again allegedly because the white gloves he gave to customers so that they could eat his hot sausages in comfort began to disappear as souvenirs.
In 1916, an employee of Feltman's named Nathan Handwerker was encouraged by celebrity clients Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante to go into business in competition with his former employer. Handwerker undercut Feltman's by charging five cents for a hot dog when his former employer was charging ten. At an earlier time in food regulation the hot dog suspect, Handwerker made sure that men wearing surgeon's smocks were seen eating at Nathan's Famous to reassure potential customers.
The term "hotdogging" wouldn't dare be uttered by a surfer under 60 for its archaic connotations and inordinate cheesiness. Nowadays we call it "ripping" or "flaring up," but it's all the same. Generally defined as surfing for flash rather than function, occurring in small conditions, with little regard for making the wave, hotdogging has attained an unprecedented level of acceptability within the world of surfing, thanks to aerials. For the most part, this state of mind is characterized by youth, as older surfers tend to grow increasingly conservative and set in their ways.
Hotdogging made its way into the sport early in the '50s along the popular breaks around Waikiki. Prior to that, the equipment of the day confined surfers to striking a manly pose and riding straight to the beach on finless planks up to 16 feet in length. Any variation on the process came as attempts were made to cut across the face of the wave, inevitably resulting in "sliding ass" (which was far less desirous than today). The most respected surfers since the sport's rebirth early in the 20th century -- George Freeth, Duke Kahanamoku and Tom Blake-- couldn't do a turn to save their lives (and didn't care to.) But boards were shrinking, and a few Queens locals were tired of trimming. On 7-foot redwood spears, Rabbit Kekai and Conrad Cunha began zigzagging across the surf by dipping a foot off the tail as a rudder. Kekai's boards were as narrow as 18 inches and featured drastically drawn-in tails in the Hot Curl mold, affording him unprecedented maneuverability.
California got into the hotdogging act when Joe Quigg began shaping light balsa boards (known as Malibu chips) for his wife and a few other girls -- boards that were actually ridden by guys like Matt Kivlin, Leslie Williams and Tom Zahn. With board weight drastically reduced, turning was a natural progression. A quantum leap came in 1953 at the now-defunct Killer Dana when a 13-year-old Phil Edwards quit "going for the green" and began cutting back into the soup. Edwards and pal Miki Dora used the empty Trestles playing field of the '50s to make hotdogging their personal art form.
By the '60s, everyone was in on the act, led by Malibu's Dewey Weber, "The Little Man on Wheels." Weber's kick stalls and whip turns were at first dismissed but soon regarded as groundbreaking. Mickey Munoz brought humor into the hotdogging mix with a bevy of comical poses such as the Quasimodo, el Telephono and the Mysterioso. After nose-riding ran its course as surfing's single-minded pursuit, the shortboard revolution made involvement the new rage. Inspired by Nat Young's power carves and Dick Brewer's Hawaiian mini-guns, surfers were intent on turning in all conditions, and the inevitable result was a return to sliding ass.
Such is the nature of progression: yesterday's "hotdogging" is tomorrow's "sushi roll.' In between, today's groms reap the benefits, with no-names routinely hucking airs bigger than most 90s pros. But, don't' worry. For the relics whose sticks still stay stuck in the water, you can always stuff yourself in a tube.
-- Jason Borte (updated, December 2009)