Fact: The Founding Fathers did not eat hot dogs. They didn't exist at the time, and besides, "food connoisseurs Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin would have considered hot dogs to be the lowest of foods," writes culinary historian Bruce Kraig in the LA Times. But Kraig nonetheless sees hot dogs as "an American creation, and in a way the product of social and economic forces that the founders unleashed, wittingly or otherwise."
The hot dog's story captures some of the founders' ideals: "American individualism, can-do spirit and egalitarianism." Hot dogs arrived with German immigrants in the mid-19th century, but were quickly sold by everyone from Italians to Eastern European Jews. Regional variations abound—like the Latino immigrant-inspired Sonoran dogs and bacon-wrapped "danger dogs" of the west coast—and they were all "created by small-scale hot dog hawkers," whose very hope of economic advancement "reflects this liberty to exist and operate in America." (Read more hot dogs stories.)