Great Depression Hot Dogs

New York cartoonist Tad Dorgan first coined the name "Hot Dog" in 1901 when he drew a red dachshund nicknamed the wiener dog.

Just keep buying Hot Dogs folks... everything will be alright.

In the USA – Hot Dogs grew in popularity during The Great Depression. One Google search of ‘Depression era advertising’ comes up with a hell of a lot of Hot Dogs and Mustard adverts. Right around 1929 the humble and inexpensive Hot Dogs became the most popular street food, bought for only a nickel.


Newspaper articles from the early 1900s often make hot dogs, despite their widespread consumption at the time, seem like the lowest of the low.
Always a family favourite.

The Depression Dog is a child of the dark global economic times - a meal on a bun, born out of anxiety. It's consistent. It's dependable.

Before FDR helped the hot dog become a Fourth of July favourite - it was an outcast associated with squalor, crime, and moonshine.
In 1930s New York, everyone had a favourite hot dog stand. There were stands everywhere.
Another icon of the era - Coca-Cola. The company profitability remained solid through-out The Great Depression. By the end in 1937, Coca-Cola was earning north of $20,000,000 per annum while taking on cult like status. Also strongly linked to the humble the Hot Dog as seen here, just one of many associated advertisements of the time..

“Before, during and after the Depression, hot dogs were the food of everyday people, because they were good, they were tasty, and they could stretch a dollar.”

There are many tall tales about the way in which hot dogs are manufactured. Curiosity alone might make you think twice about it...


This is also right around the time SPAM was invented as a solution to sell the underused shoulder portions of hogs. All be it, SPAM was one of many tinned ham products on the market at the time. The difficulty of delivering fresh meat to the front during World War II saw Spam become a ubiquitous part of the U.S. soldier’s diet. A.K.A – The  “wartime delicacy”, or “Ham that didn’t pass it’s physical”, or “Meatloaf without basic training”, and the “Special Army Meat”.

Over 68,000 tonnes were purchased by the military before the end of the war. That’s a ridiculously large amount of pork, ham, salt, starch, sugar, and sodium nitrite. From wartime to affiliated with economic hardship – it’s still on supermarket shelves now. People must be buying it still… surely?

The wartime delicacy. Ham that didn’t pass it’s physical. Meatloaf without basic training. Special Army Meat.

“The noblest of all dogs is the hot-dog; it feeds the hand that bites it.”
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Alan Wilson Watts

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