Move over hamburger history, it\u2019s time to talk about New Haven and hot dogs. For a long time, New Haven has proudly proclaimed itself the birthplace of the hamburger. However, last January\u00a0this column\u00a0raised serious questions about the legitimacy of the claim that Louis\u2019 Lunch served the first hamburger sandwich at the turn of the century. Soon afterward, a dedicated reader\u00a0directed us to a newspaper account\u00a0with definitive proof of hamburgers being served outside of Connecticut several years prior. But fans of unhealthy meats and Connecticut history shouldn\u2019t despair. It appears New Haven played an important early role in hot dog history, or at least in the etymology of the famous food. Hot dogs are sausages, which have been eaten for thousands of years. In the late 18th and early 19th century, German immigrants brought their love of sausages to the U.S. Two varieties \u2014 wieners (Vienna sausages) and frankfurters (franks) \u2014 ultimately were dubbed \u201chot dogs.\u201d Though the first time the term \u201chot dog\u201d was used is unclear, a famous early use comes from Yale University magazines in 1895. \u201cLexicographer David Shulman thought there was a connection between hot dog as a sharp dresser or good athlete, or show-off (still one use of the phrase) and sausages sold by lunch wagons,\u201d writes historian Bruce Kraig in\u00a0Hot Dog: A Global History. \u201cThis was later demonstrated by Barry Popik using Yale University college magazines from 1895. In them a new lunch wagon called \u2018The Kennel Club\u2019 appears (the name also applies to a well-known Yale clothier) giving rise to the phrase \u2018Dog Wagon,\u2019 followed closely by \u2018hot dog.\u2019 \u201d\u00a0 Several earlier references to hot dogs can be found. The earliest Kraig is aware of is a mention in the\u00a0Paterson Daily Press\u00a0of New Jersey from Dec. 31, 1892. But even though the term wasn\u2019t coined in New Haven, \u201cBilly the Dog Man,\u201d who owned \u201cThe Kennel Club\u201d dog wagon in New Haven, seems to have helped popularize the term. Kraig, a professor emeritus in history at Roosevelt University in Chicago, writes that the term spread to Eastern colleges and \u201cthen seeped into popular culture.\u201d A\u00a0well-read story\u00a0published in\u00a0The Sun\u00a0in New York City in 1899 about New Haven hot dogs may have also contributed to the term\u2019s rise in use. \u201cDog wagons are indigenous to New Haven and are the result of the appetites of Yale men who appreciate the fact that the hot wienerwursts snugly imbedded in rolls and covered in mustard are ready to bark at any time,\u201d the article states, noting the pioneer of these famous dog wagons was \u201cBilly the Dog Man.\u201d The association of this type of sausage with dogs grew out of a longstanding joke that the inexpensive and often-hard-to-recognize meat in sausages came from dogs. \u201cIt\u2019s a sardonic sense of humor,\u201d Kraig says. Though the joke likely appealed to young Yale students, the linkage of sausages and dog meat predates the emergence of dog wagons in New Haven by many decades. \u201cThis goes back to the 1840s, at least,\u201d Kraig says. In 1864,\u00a0Septimus Winner, a noted songwriter of the era, released a song set to a traditional German folk tune known popularly as \u201cOh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?\u201d The highly tongue-in-cheek song is sung in an exaggerated German accent and written from the perspective of a mournful dog owner whose dog has been put through the sausage machine of a local butcher. Of course, German immigrants didn\u2019t use dog meat in their sausage, and the joke, at least initially, was inspired by nativism and mistrust of immigrants, Kraig says. Eventually, however, it seems that hot dog purveyors such as Billy chose to own the joke by referring to their product as hot dogs. As the 1899 article in\u00a0The Sun\u00a0notes, the wagon owners were not offended by the joke that their sausages contained dog meat: \u201cBilly has met the college element more than half way by inscribing on his wagons the following sign: YALE KENNEL CLUB LUNCH WAGON.\u201d This article appears in the\u00a0January 2022\u00a0issue of\u00a0Connecticut Magazine.\u00a0You can\u00a0subscribe to\u00a0Connecticut Magazine\u00a0here, or\u00a0find the current issue on sale here.\u00a0Sign up for our newsletter\u00a0to get our latest and greatest content\u00a0delivered right to your inbox.\u00a0Have a question or comment? Email\firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow us\u00a0on\u00a0Facebook\u00a0and\u00a0Instagram\u00a0@connecticutmagazine and\u00a0Twitter\u00a0@connecticutmag.