Hot Dogs, Franks And Wieners: Is There A Difference Between Them?

Nothing says summer more than hot dogs hitting the grill. A summer staple, hot dogs are quick-cooking, tasty, and an American tradition — about 20 billion are eaten in the country yearly, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. You can find any hot dog to suit your tastes and preferences, from all beef, pork, turkey, chicken, or a combination. Even vegetarians aren't left out, with plenty of options like tofu, wheat gluten, or pea protein. And don't stress about all those myths about hot dogs — the USDA maintains strict standards for hot dog production.

When it comes to the sheer variety of hot dogs available, labels might be confusing. Are all frankfurters hot dogs, or are all hot dogs frankfurters? What about wieners — how are they different, if at all? German immigrants to the U.S. in the 1800s brought the sausage recipes of their homeland with them. Usually when we're talking about American franks or frankfurters, we're talking about all-beef hot dogs like Hebrew National beef franks. Oscar Mayer's wieners are a mix of pork, turkey, and chicken. As for the term hot dog, legend has it that German immigrants were selling their "dachshund sausages" from food carts in the late 19th century in New York City, and those evolved into the hot dog. So it's safe to say that in the U.S., all franks and wieners are hot dogs.

Two European cities lay claim to the best sausages

Over time, the names for frankfurters and wieners have been switched and lost in translation. In Germany, the home of sausages, the city of Frankfurt lays claim to the frankfurter: an all-pork, smoked sausage and definitely a food to try before you die. You can find them served with mustard, horseradish, bread, and perhaps a side of potato salad. The "frankfurter würstchen" is a food of protected geographical origin, so frankfurters produced outside of Frankfurt must be called "nach frankfurter art," even if they are made in the same style.

Over the border in Austria, the wiener comes from the German name for Vienna, Wien (pronounced "veen"). The wiener is a longer, thinner beef and pork sausage, and its taste and texture are similar to an American hot dog. You can go to Vienna and grab yourself a Viennese sausage and a beer from a würstelstand, or the Viennese version of a New York City hot dog stand. You can have your sausage in a few different ways, including with a roll of bread and some mustard or ketchup — a taste of home across the pond.