The Difference Between Hot Dogs And Sausages

By now you've probably heard about the "Is a hot dog a sandwich?" controversy, but have you ever asked yourself the question: Is a hot dog a sausage? They're roughly the same shape and sometimes the same size. They are historically both made of meat and other spices stuffed into a casing. So what really is the difference between hot dogs and sausages?

Think of it this way – while a hot dog is a type of sausage, not all sausages are hot dogs (clearly), and there are some important differences between traditional sausages and hot dogs. In general, sausages can be thought of as ground meat mixtures (usually) stuffed into some sort of casing. They can be fully cooked or raw, they can be long or short, and they can be in connected links or in one long piece.

Hot dogs are a very specific type of sausage. They are most often made of meat trimmings, spices, and salt, and can contain other fillers, water, and preservatives. These items are emulsified (ground into a paste) and then stuffed into a casing. They are usually around the same thickness and range in size from 2-inch cocktail wieners to foot-long dogs. Traditionally hot dogs are meant to be served in a bun with a variety of toppings while sausages can be eaten in any number of ways.

Hot dogs have a specific origin, and sausages are universal

While nearly every cuisine across the globe has some kind of sausage, hot dogs have a very specific origin story. The German city of Frankfurt-am-Main is often credited with creating the hot dog in 1487, hence the moniker "frankfurter." Others claim a butcher in Coburg, Germany created the sausage, while across the border in Austria, the city of Vienna (Wien in German) says it was invented there, giving rise to the name "wiener." Whichever story is true, it's undeniable that the hot dog is of Germanic birth. It's widely accepted that German immigrants to the United States introduced the hot dog to America via New York in the 1860s.

Sausages as a whole, on the other hand, aren't tied to a specific country or continent. There's Sai Ua from Northern Thailand, Lap Cheong in China, Chorizo in countries like Mexico and Argentina, Fläskkorv in Sweden – the list could go on. Sausages are the umbrella group to which hot dogs belong.

Since arriving in the United States hot dogs have branched out into regional specialties much like sausages have globally. There's the classic Coney Island dog, the Chicago-style hot dog, and the Carolina version. We've ranked regional hot dog styles from worst to first in case you need a run down. So even if people can't agree on whether a hot dog is a sandwich, at least now you know the difference between hot dogs and sausages.