Chili Cheese or Peppers and Onions? Hot Dogs and American Culinary Regionalism

By Andrew Howe.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The hot dog has long been popularly associated with three things that could not be more pan-American: picnics, baseball, and the Fourth of July holiday. However, in many ways, an analysis of the hot dog as a food item serves to indicate the fractures that exist in the United States, including divisions both regional and ethnic. For instance, chili dogs are often associated with the American southwest, much as the hot dogs that feature both onions and peppers are deemed to originate from Chicago. On the other hand, the Polish dog and the Italian dog are not invested in regional identifications but instead ethnic distinctions between white minority groups in Boston, New York, and other northeastern cities. This paper will examine such regionalism through the cultural artifact of the hot dog, as it is packaged both by national chains such as Weinerschnitzel as well as localized businesses such as Pink’s in Los Angeles. Burgers and pizza will also be examined as to their relative resistance of such regional affiliations.

Keywords: Food, Regions, Ethnicity, Immigration

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 637.002KB).

Dr. Andrew Howe

Associate Professor, Department of History, Politics, and Society, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA

Andrew Howe is an associate professor at La Sierra University where he teaches cinema studies, popular culture studies, and twentieth century history in the Department of History, Politics, and Society.