Sausage? Hot Dog? top dog™!

A SAUSAGE IS – any chopped or ground meat or vegetable matter that has been seasoned and formed into a tube. Except for our skinless veggie “wienies”, all top dog™ traditional sausages are encased in a natural membrane and usually follow tradition-tested recipes with textures ranging from a coarse chop to a fine emulsion. Most are smoke-cured using only natural hardwoods and may be made fresh, cooked, semi-dry or dry, though most of the fifty million-plus eaten daily in the U.S. are of the cooked variety and then reheated.

Long before refrigeration, meat was salted to preserve it. In fact, the word “sausage” derives from Latin “salsus” denoting salted or preserved. Dating back to 2,500 B.C. , the first written reference was found in Salamis, appropriately enough. Two thousand years later the ancient Greeks and Romans had made sausages a happy part of their diet, flavoring them with garlic and cooking them in wine. Even Aborigines in Australia make a sausage they bury and can retrieve to eat months later. Now that’s staying power – no hamburger, pizza or fried chicken there.

AND A HOT DOG IS – any one of the world’s many different kinds of sausages that has been heated and served in bread, usually a bun. Not hot? Brr, that’s a cold dog…

By 1700 the hot dog – in form – had become popular in Germany and by 1850 in the Eastern U.S. as well, thanks to its many German immigrants. Within another fifty years “wiener” (from Vienna/Wien), then “wienie” and also “frankfurter” were, and still are names used to mean “hot dog” even though these very similar sausages were probably “Brühwürsts” (sausages cooked to broth) from Halberstadt in eastern Germany where they were just part of the hot dog-to-be – minus the bun.

Not until around 1905 did T.A. (“Tad”) Dorgan, a well-known sports cartoonist in New York City, introduce the phrase “hot dog” with a drawing of a dachshund (the long and low German dog) in a bun. This was his way of illustrating the actual sausages now in buns being sold at the New York Giants baseball team at their Polo Grounds home stadium – and that he couldn’t spell “dachshund” … (Note: before sausages made it into buns they had even been sold at Coney Island with gloves as to prevent finger-burning!)

BUT top dog™ IS – well, special. And not just that we’ve been selling fine hot dogs in Berkeley, Oakland and elsewhere around The Bay since 1966. Rather, that its originator was introduced by his German immigrant parents to traditional top-quality European-style sausages when only a boy in New York before World War II. Then also there were the many excellent kosher-style frankfurters in hot dogs at pushcarts, stands and restaurants everywhere. Hot dog heaven! Truth to tell, that boy grew up preferring a good “tubesteak” to an ordinary steak. And still does. That love of, that reverence for a top hot dog became top dog™, only by then the scene was San Francisco Bay and the tradition of just a typical skinless frankfurter or wiener sausage in a hot dog sandwich was forever altered. top dog™ became the first to offer hot dog fans a choice among a significant variety of quality sausages including the best eastern kosher-style all-beef frankfurter in a memorable bun, our top dog. Onward!


top dog grew out of a boy's love of sausage, a staple in his German immigrants' New York home over the WWII years. Steaks? Tubesteaks! His paper route to a well-mixed neighborhood assured that Italian, Polish, even Hungarian sausages were soon no strangers to that developing appetite and palate. Nor had he far to go to a cart or stand offering kosher style "Franks", usually steeped but better off the griddle.

Goodness! With kraut n' mustard, please. Raw onions, ketchup (not "catsup") and mayo were unheard of on hot dogs. Burgers maybe ... oh, but that was far away and another day ...more