The European Reason Why Americans Eat Hot Dogs At Baseball Games

There's nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a hot dog nestled in a warm, soft bun and piled high with fresh toppings. Combine that with a stadium filled with fans cheering on their favorite players, and you've got the perfect setting for a good ol' fashioned baseball game.

While it may appear to be an American tradition, eating hot dogs at a baseball game is actually thanks to the ingenuity of Europeans. Frankfurter sausages, which eventually became known as hot dogs, were a staple in Germany dating back to 1487 and soon made their way overseas in the 1800s. Immigrant butchers used the well-known European recipe, and vendors started serving them with milk rolls and sauerkraut. Professional baseball actually started without hot dogs served at stadiums. Hot dogs weren't introduced as stadium food for several years.  

In the 1890s, German immigrant Chris Von de Ahe saw an opportunity with the ballpark he owned in St. Louis, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He knew how successful frankfurters were in his home country and figured that ticket holder would appreciate having a meal that was both affordable and easy to hold. Von de Ahe's gamble on hot dogs proved to be correct as they rank among the best food served in MLB parks. However, the origin of hot dogs and baseball is also tied to someone else.

How hot dogs became a must-have at baseball games

There's another theory that contradicts Chris Von de Ahe's role in the origin story of hot dogs in stadiums. According to, Harry Stevens is responsible for popularizing the food. London-born, Stevens immigrated to the United States and realized there was a golden opportunity to supply sports fans with snacks in the stadium. As a result, Stevens decided to open his own concession company, bringing ballpark snacks to different stadiums across the country. As a result, Stevens reportedly helped popularize hot dogs at the games. 

Whoever ultimately played a role in their popularity, hot dogs have stood the test of time. According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, hot dogs were named a favorite ballpark food by 63% of polled baseball fans across the nation. Popular combinations have developed over the years with some stadiums forming their own signature dishes. The Cincinnati Cheese Coney Dogs, for example, can be found at the home of the Cincinnati Reds and feature Cincinnati chili, cheddar cheese, and white onion. The Cuban Dog is a staple with the Kansas City Royals and comes with pulled pork, shaved ham, swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles.