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What is the Difference Between a Hot Dog, Weiner, Frank, and Sausage?

Hot dogs, also called franks.
Raw sausages.
Cocktail sausages are popular at get togethers.
Kielbasa, a type of sausage.
A hot dog with mustard.
Vienna, Austria, is the home of the sausages named after the city.
Blood sausage.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 August 2014
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The hot dog, considered quintessential American food owes its origin to two places outside the US. Frankfurt, Germany, and Vienna, Austria lay claim to inventing these sausages. Thus franks or frankfurters are merely synonyms for this dish. Wiener comes from the name Wien, the Austrian name for the city English speakers call Vienna. Essentially there is no difference between hot dogs, wieners, and franks, although some say that wieners may be slightly shorter than franks.

All hot dogs are sausages, a mixture of meat and spices usually stuffed into casings (or veggies and soy products for a veggie dog stuffed into a veggie casing). Yet not every sausage is a hot dog. There are plenty of sausages that predate franks and weiners, and they can contain mixtures of meat, fat, animal blood, and spices in casing, but don’t have the same taste as the modern weiners or franks. Generally, hot dogs, unless kosher, are a combination of finely ground pork and beef combined with salt and spices. This differs widely from tiny breakfast, spicy Italian, chicken and apple or black pudding sausages.

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Sausages are referenced as far back as Homer’s Odyssey dated at about 850 BCE. The earliest possible reference to a hot dog occurs in the late 17th century, when a sausage maker named Johann Georghehner may have first invented a sausage he called "little dachshunds," or "little dogs," after the dogs many today refer to as weiner dogs. Georghehner, though originally from Coburg, Germany, is said to have brought his new sausages to Frankfurt, but there is a great deal of debate on this subject, and the matter of who really invented this type of sausage is still unresolved.

There are some variations on hot dogs though. For instance, Hebrew National® labels their product as all beef franks, and are popular because they are kosher. They contain no pork, and use only kosher cuts of beef. To add further puzzlement to matters, cocktail weiners are very short sausages, meant to be eaten in a bite or two. They really don’t differ much from the standard kind except in size. Vienna sausages are also considered hot dogs of a sort, though they are typically slightly larger than cocktail weiners and still smaller than franks.

Do note that most franks and weiners are pre-cooked, but you still need to re-cook them. Many sausages can be sold raw, but this usually isn’t the case with hot dogs. Follow package directions for safe heating.

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Discuss this Article

anon351214
Post 11

"Weiner" (pronounced "whiner") has no meaning. "Wiener" (pronounced "weener") is a type of sausage, named after the city of Vienna ("Wien" in German).

feasting
Post 10

Cocktail sausages are the best! They have so much more flavor than a plain hot dog or sausage link.

They are so little, and it's sad to me that such a little piece of meat contains so much fat. I have to remember to take it easy, which is hard.

I like them cooked in BBQ sauce, and I also like them wrapped in biscuit dough and baked. Either way, it is hard to eat just a few of them.

Many times, I've been at holiday parties where this was the only type of meat available. Those were the times when I ate way more than I should have. I used the lack of other options as an excuse to gorge myself!

JackWhack
Post 9

If you are ever looking for hot dog recipes, you will find them called by every name. Some cooks just try to sound fancier by calling them “frankfurters” or simply “franks,” but they are no different from your average hot dog.

Of course, there are differences in types of hot dog, though. I've seen turkey dogs and chicken dogs for sale, and they taste totally different from a beef hot dog.

kylee07drg
Post 8

@shell4life – I've never bought anything from a hot dog vending cart, but I agree with you about the sausage. My husband likes to eat sausage links for breakfast, and he chops them up in little pieces first.

I've never been a big fan of sausages that are shaped like hot dogs, though. I prefer the kind that are cut into discs.

People think I'm crazy, but to me, they taste totally different from the links. I love the way they fit right inside a biscuit for an easy breakfast sandwich. All I have to do is plop them in a skillet and cook them until they are dark brown on either side.

shell4life
Post 7

Do hot dog vending carts ever sell cooked sausages? I don't think I've ever seen any sold alongside the typical hot dogs.

Then again, probably not too many people would want a sausage wrapped in a bun. Everyone I know only eats them for breakfast with either toast or biscuits.

CellMania
Post 6

@dill1971: Here are a few more variations of the typical hot dog:

Coney Island Dog: Hot dog topped with a spicy mixture made of meat.

Slaw Dog: Hot dog topped with coleslaw.

Corn Dog: A wiener placed on a stick, dipped in corn bread batter and deep fried.

Tex-Mex Dog: A hot dog topped with salsa, Monterey Jack cheese, and jalapenos.

alex94
Post 5

@dill1971: I used to work at a local restaurant that served hot dogs that I had never even heard of! Here are a few of those:

Baltimore Frizzled Dog: The wieners are split down the middle and then deep-fried.

Pigs in a Blanket: Wieners that are wrapped in pastry and then baked (usually cocktail wieners).

Chicago Dogs: A hot dog with mustard, relish, onions, tomato, and celery salt on a poppy seed bun.

Kansas City Dogs: A hot dog with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese on a sesame seed bun.

New York City Dogs: A hot dog with steamed onions and pale yellow mustard sauce.

dill1971
Post 4

We are serving hot dogs at my son's birthday party. He wants us to come up with different varieties of hot dogs. I honestly don't know any. Does anyone have any ideas?

anon37313
Post 1

What, if any, is the difference between a Frankfurter sausage and a Vienna sausage or a Weiner sausage?

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