The last Thursday in July is National Chili Dog Day (July 25)! Making decisions is difficult. Alas, making decisions about what mouthwatering cuisine to satiate your appetite during the sweltering summer months can also be difficult. Do you want chili? Do you want hot dogs? Sometimes life doesn’t have to be so complicated. Sometimes you can have it all. Enter, like a shining beacon from the sky, the Chili Dog. On National Chili Dog Day, we the people celebrate a food that doesn’t make us choose. We celebrate a food that chooses us. We celebrate the chili dog.
History of National Chili Dog Day
The hot dog has come a long way since German immigrant Charles Feltman first sold ‘frankfurters on milk buns’ from his snack stand in 1867. It became a huge hit and eventually spread through the United States.
However, when the idea to put meat sauce and spices on hot dogs appeared, it kickstarted a wave of innovation that helped expand the scope of American cuisine. It is hard to pinpoint who exactly invented the concept of a chili dog, as many variations have emerged since the early years across the United States.
During the early 1900s, Greek and Macedonian immigrants, who were fleeing their home countries due to economic hardship, came to American shores along with their traditional meat sauce recipes. Eventually, they would be responsible for the development of the Coney Island dog — a variation seen as the definitive image of a chili dog. Despite the name, the dish did not originate in New York. The immigrants who developed the Coney Island dog settled mainly in the Great Lakes region and named it after their memories of visiting Coney Island during their journey.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, other varieties of chili dogs were being developed. Between 1918 and 1920, the ‘Texas Wiener,’ a hot dog with simple chili meat sauce, emerged in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In the early 1900s, the Hot Wiener, or ‘New York System Wiener.’ was born in Rhode Island. The Half-Smoke, a chili dog with smoked ingredients, was developed in Washington D.C.
Over time, chili dogs have become a staple of American cuisine, appearing on street corners, roadside stands, sports stadiums, diners, and restaurants. National Chili Dog Day is a day for everyone to celebrate and appreciate the chili dog. Not only is it a celebration of its versatility and satisfying taste, but it is also a celebration of its important role in American culture. Don’t forget to have a few napkins ready before digging in!
National Chili Dog Day timeline
Sausages are common street food in American cities
Charles Feltman sells hot sausages in milk rolls at Coney Island
Chili shows up in the U.S. for the first time in San Antonio, sold by a woman by the nicknamed "Chili Queen"
"Chile con Carne" appears on U.S. restaurant menus
A former Feltman employee, Nathan Handwerker, opens his own Coney Island hot dog stand and sells hot dogs for a nickel instead of a dime
National Chili Dog Day Activities
Make your own chili dog
We know cooking can be hard, what with all the directions and ingredients and the preheating of ovens. Guess what? Making a chili dog isn’t hard. The Internet exists for making vital tasks like these easier. We trust you can do this. Go forth and feast.
Purchase your own chili dog
Okay, you couldn’t make your own chili dog. That’s fine. No judgment from us. There are plenty of places of business where you can obtain an expertly crafted chili dog. Restaurants, amusement parks, food trucks, food carts, any of these establishments would be happy to serve you an exquisite globular shaped food with some sort of meat sauce poured on top of it. The world is your oyster and that oyster is filled with chili dogs.
Host a chili dog party
The birth of chili dogs came from the decision to bring unlikely ingredients together into one bun. It didn’t matter that the concoction hadn’t been produced before. It mattered that someone tried it. What if we did the same with people? What if we all came together like a chili dog in the name of chili dogs? What if the ultimate act of diplomacy was a party celebrating chili dogs? What if you had a dog and you turned the air conditioner on real high? Forget that one. Maybe just invite some friends over for really good food.
5 Facts About Hot Dogs
Even Homer Had 'Em
Homer mentions sausages in "The Odyssey
The Yellow Stuff
Mustard is the most popular hot dog topping (ketchup comes in second)
Freeze dried ice cream is the most famous food that has gone to space, but hot dogs are actually a space food staple
Summer is Hot Dog Season
Americans eat 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day
The record for hot dog eating is 62 hot dogs in 10 mintues
Why We Love National Chili Dog Day
There is a chili dog for every mood
No matter where you are or how you’re feeling emotionally, there is a chili dog out there for you. Want a classic? Load up on meat. Feel like like fortifying your bones with calcium? Stuff your bun with cheese. Are you skipping date night? Pile on the onions. No matter what your taste preference, the only wrong way to eat a chili dog is not eating one at all.
It celebrates a dish that represents the best of cultural diversity
The chili dog represents the best of cultures coming together. ‘Chili con Carne is a Mexican-inspired dish that was developed in the 19th century and eventually became a part of popular American cuisine. The hot dog is a popular American food that originated in Germany. The combination of these two dishes showcases the power of cultural diversity.
Chili dogs are an essential part of the American identity
Chili dogs have become a staple of ballparks, street food, and culinary innovation, becoming synonymous with American cuisine itself. It has numerous variants, ranging from the Texas Wiener and Carolina Style to the Coney Island Dog and Michigan. National Chili Dog Day celebrates the iconic dish and its place in the American identity.
National Chili Dog Day dates