Wednesday, July 03, 2013

burgers and hot dogs

The 4th of July is nearly here, and in America that means fireworks and barbecues. (In England, it means I'll be giving my talk 'How America Saved the English Language' at the Skeptics in the Pub at Tunbridge Wells. Hope I'll meet some readers there. And that no one will throw things at me.)

The old standbys of American barbecues are hot dogs and hamburgers. I've written a bit about hot dogs before, when I was wondering whether a UK company had misunderstood the term red hot. But the (orig. AmE) term hot dog itself is used rather differently in the US and UK, as my sad tale will reveal. A Californian-in-the-UK friend and I took our kids to an event in a local arts complex. There was the option to bring a picnic lunch, but we'd seen it advertised that they were also serving hot dogs. Get lost, picnic lunches! We're having hot dogs! We ordered some with 'Back to the Old Skool' (their words/spelling) toppings: ketchup and yellow (a.k.a. American) mustard. What we received was this thing-in-a-roll.


I believe (but I may be wrong) it was a Cumberland sausage. The roll was chewy and baguette-like. It also took forever to arrive, so we were already grumpy, and then we were disappointed, for this is no hot dog, from an American point of view.

We can see hints of why we were disappointed if we compare British and American dictionary definitions of hot dog.

The American Heritage Dictionary says:
1. A frankfurter, especially one served hot in a long soft roll. Also called red-hot.
The Oxford English Dictionary says:
 1. orig. U.S. A hot sausage served in a long soft roll
See what's going on there? For Americans, a hot dog is a particular type of sausage. It's typically served in a long, soft roll, but that's how it's served, not what it is. What it is is a type of sausage. For the British, hot dog is a way of serving a sausage. It is essentially (in the American use of this word), a type of sandwich, not a type of sausage.

The same kind of thing happens with (orig. AmE) burgers. The British focus on the bread: a burger is a cooked thing served in a round bun (but they'd be more likely to call it a roll--see the old baked goods post). So, order a chicken burger at Nando's or Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and you'll get what Americans would call a chicken breast sandwich. For Americans, a burger is a (chiefly AmE) patty made of (AmE) ground/(BrE) minced meat, so we can be heard to express surprise when the chicken burgers we order in the UK are chicken breasts. (Not necessarily disappointed, but surprised. One doesn't hear chicken burger that much in the US, but turkey burger is fairly common--and always ground/minced.)

[My colleague Lynne C's first comment here says what I should have. BrE uses beefburger for the patty. To my American ear, that always sounds redundant. And kind of unconvincing. If you have to tell me it's beef, should I trust the burger? In the wake of the horse meat scandal, maybe not!]

In fact the 'burger' is so much associated with the meat that (orig. AmE) hamburger can also be used in AmE to refer to ground/minced beef even before it's cooked. Hence Hamburger Helper, and its 'Add hamburger' in the top right corner of the package. Here hamburger is a mass noun, not a countable patty.



In my part of the US (at least) hamburger is often shortened to hamburg (in either the 'ground meat' or 'ground-meat sandwich' meanings), as evidenced by the photo below, taken a couple of years ago in Sodus Point, NY. (Salt potatoes, for the unfortunate uninitiated, are an upstate New York treat.)



I will be missing all this on the 4th of July, but the kind people at Tunbridge Wells Skeptics have promised cake. Independence Day is a birthday of sorts, I suppose.

In other news:
Postscript (5 July 2013): Before the talk in Tunbridge Wells, I met a friend for dinner in The Wells Kitchen (where the talk would later happen), and thought it rather apt to find 'cajun chicken burger' on the menu: 
We had decided to have burgers as a nod to the 4th of July, and my friend was torn about having the chicken one, since she knew it was not American to call it a 'chicken burger'. (It was indeed a breast fil(l)et--I'd put away the phone/camera for the meal, which I only half regret.) But since it was 'Cajun' we agreed it was 'American enough'. All of these had cheese on them, by the way, but none are called 'cheeseburgers'. There's a US/UK cheeseburger difference to mention here, though: in the UK, the cheese is often not melted on a burger. In fact, at one place I go, they serve the burger on one half of the bun/roll, and the other half has all the extras stacked on it, including cold cheddar. In the US, not every place would put the cheese on the burger while it was cooking, but at least it will have been put right on after cooking, so that it melts a bit.


I had the 'steak burger', although I'm supposed to be reducing my beef intake for environmental reasons, and I wish to report: it was one of the best seasoned burgers I can remember having. Thanks, Wells Kitchen!

Postscript (30 July 2013): It seems I can't leave this post alone. I thought of it again when wandering through Poundland (one of the UK equivalents of a US 'dollar store') and spotting this evidence of UK use of hot dog for the sausage without the bun:
Americans are often surprised by the hot dogs in jars or (orig. AmE) cans/(BrE) tins in the UK, but here they are. Even more fun is to see this brand's "American" range. Now, in AmE I might call these 'little hot dogs', but I'm more likely to call them cocktail franks or cocktail wieners.

75 comments:

Lynne C said...

In Britain we distinguish between a beefburger (the patty) and a hamburger (patty in a bun - and I would use bun for this use, even though without the patty/beefburger inside it I would call it a roll). Burger can be used for either, and you do hear "burger in a bun" and "burger without the bun".

lynneguist said...

Good Lynne, you are absolutely right. I've added a paragraph in the post with your name on it.

Mindy said...

Here in St Louis we will be having pork steaks, which are a st louis thing, you can not find them any where else in the USA that I know of.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_steak

Roger Owen Green said...

As an upstate NY kid, I've never seen red-hots for hot dogs/franks/wiener, except in literature. (Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who left Congress after sending a picture of his underpants - with him in them - over Twitter, is now making jokes about his suggestive name as he runs for NYC mayor.)

I have a different recollection of the term red hot:
"My girl is red hot
Your girl ain't doodily squat."

Of course, a hot dog can also be a daredevil, or showoff.

John Burgess said...

@Mindy: My local cafe in Sarasota, FL has pork steaks fairly often as the daily lunch special.

Chayanin said...

As I'm from a non-Anglophone Asian country, our understanding of the term 'hotdog' is also a way of serving a sausage. I always thought this usage would be 'incorrect' back in English, but now I know it's at least OED-approved, lol.

Colleen said...

In Canada, you would get a chicken breast in a bun in most restaurants if you ordered a chicken burger. At fast food places, it would be minced and breaded chicken.

John Cowan said...

I used to see beefburger for the sandwich back in the 1960s (in the U.S., specifically New Jersey). I remember asking my mother about it, and she explained that it was used so that people wouldn't assume hamburgers were made from ham.

Mark said...

To me, as a Brit, yes it means the whole thing rather than the sausage, but it's got to be a frankfurter.

I have seen other sausages sold as hot dogs, as in your story, but it's rare and I'd consider it to be a mistake. And when I see it it annoys me, because I think "damn, if I'd known it was a proper sausage instead of one of those disgusting frankfurter things I'd have ordered one"

biochemist said...

This reminds me of a visit to Dodge City we made thirty years ago - at lunchtime since we were on a camping holiday - hoping for a proper steak meal. At that time of day we could 'only' be offered a steak sandwich - huge plates of steak appeared, with a tiny piece of bread underneath. Perhaps the steak in the evening was even bigger....

Kate Bunting said...

I always thinkof a hot dog as being a frankfurter, but it's true you do often get them in the UK made with other kinds of sausage (which I find vaguely disappointing).
I think the term "beefburger" originated with the frozen patties that have been on sale here since the 1960s. "Burger" is now often used as a generic term for a meat or vegetarian patty.

srobalino said...

I agree with Colleen re: 'chicken burger' in the US that it's usually a chicken breast in a bun. I can't say I've ever seen a chicken burger that was ground chicken, only turkey burgers.

Thanks for pointing out this distinction between US/UK hot dogs. I'd vaguely noticed it but not really paid much attention to why it was different since it's so rare to see hot dogs here outside of IKEA! And you're not alone in thinking beef burger sounds redundant. I like to think it's because hamburger makes people thing it's made of pork/ham...

srobalino said...

Should've said the minced chicken thing in my experience is called a chicken patty, not burger, and, again as Colleen says, it's breaded.

n0aaa said...

Isn't a red-hot the spicy, red, cinnamony candy in a box you seem to get only at the movies? Never heard it used referring to meat, tubular or otherwise. (Iowa and elsewhere)

Mindy said...

@John Burgess, That is So awesome! Whenever I would ask about Pork steaks, I have gotten blank stares. No one seems to have heard of them before. Also Toasted Ravioli, Another St. Louis food. Missed them while on vacation. And when I went to a Chevys fresh mex in NY, I asked if they had sopapilla's for dessert, and the waiter thought It was soup. Strange.

lynneguist said...

If you'd like to discuss 'red hot', I'd suggest following the link to that post, as these issues have been covered pretty well in the comments there.

As for 'chicken burger'--I'm not saying that American restaurants serve ground chicken, I'm saying that they call things in buns 'chicken sandwiches' (or similar), not 'chicken burgers'. Hang around long enough in a Gourmet Burger Kitchen in the UK, and you'll run into American tourists being confused by the terminology.

Katherine Barber said...

along the same lines, I noticed that in the UK a "club sandwich" is a triple-decker sandwich but not necessarily with bacon, chicken, and tomato, which is my (Canadian) definition of a club sandwich.

David Crosbie said...

Here in Britain, the meaning of word burger depends on whether you're a consumer or a cook.

If you're eating out, a burger is a hamburger.

If you're buying something ready-made to cook at home, and especially if you're following a recipe, then a SOMETHING burger is what you call a patty made of minced (ground) — or at least chopped SOMETHING.

With the exception of beefburger, these compounds are usually written as two words. My spellchecker still dislikes beefburger, preferring either beef burger or beef-burger.

Lamb burgers and veggie burgers are about as common as British-type chicken burgers. But pick virtually any foodstuff, and you'll find that somebody has created a burger recipe — more than likely on the BBC recipe web pages.

I'm not sure I remember all the dishes I've googled. they include: horse burger, snail burger, mutton burger, rabbit burger (aka bunny burger), pork burger, fruit burger, lobster burger, quorn burger, ostrich burger, veal burger (sold at Waitrose), shrimp burger, cod burger, haddock burger, potato burger, whale burger, calamari burger (squid burger), snake burger, eel burger (These last two are British names for Indonesian and Japanese dishes.)

I also got results for cabbage burger, but this is a Russian-American dish with beef — on the analogy of cheeseburger.

mollymooly said...

I had thought competely the opposite of the original post's account, that it was the Americans who reserved "hamburger" for the sandwich, with "beef patty" or "Salisbury steak" for the bunless version that my Irish mammy called "hamburgers" when she served it to us as children, with no bun, and typically with beans and rice. Neither "beef patty" nor "Salisbury steak" is in my dialect. True, Americans say "hamburger meat" for "cheap beef mince"; but by the same token they say "jean shirt" for "denim shirt", though shirts are never jeans (and not all jeans are denim?).

I completely fail to recognise Lynne C's distinction between "hamburger" and "beefburger". A "beefburger" is another word for "hamburger": to reassure those who either stupidly think hamburgers must be made of ham, or suspiciously think hamburgers might be made of any old meat.

A "burger" is by default a hamburger but might be some variant with a different filling. This applies not just for frozen-food shopping (per David Crosbie) but also at takeaways. These often distinguish a premium "chicken sandwich" (made from a single piece of chicken breast) from a cheap "chicken burger" (made from meat slurry, sometimes coated in crumb batter for bulk and to hold the evil thing together).

Note that a "cheeseburger" (presumably a US term originally?) has cheese *as well* as beef, not instead of it. Likewise "baconburger" (distinguish "gammonburger"), "coleslaw burger", "batter burger", and "spice burger".

David Crosbie said...

Mollymooly

There seems to be clear England-Ireland divide, since I too take a hamburger to include the bun, while a beefburger is usually what the Americans call a patty — unless the burger joint chooses to use the word otherwise.

The BBC recipe site burgers are prepared from scratch, and the Waitose veal burgers are not sold frozen.

I don't think any of the supermarkets or butchers that I go to (I'm English, living in Scotland) use the word hamburger.

I think it's an American~British thing that cheeseburger has ADDED cheese and so on.

AmE — SOMETHING burger = beef-burger with added SOMETHING

BrE — SOMETHING burger = patty made of minced SOMETHING

My example of cabbage burger is formed on the American model.

Anonymous said...

I would be very surprised (and delighted) to find that all those English cheeseburgers have cheese *instead* of beef, rather than as well as. As a vegetarian, I have been studiously avoiding them; perhaps I needn't have worried.

Anonymous said...

As so often, I agree with David Crosbie on UK usage.

Somebody once told me that their daughter had renamed the nice Venison-burgers that I was buying, 'Bambi-burgers'. I still bought them, and apparently so did she.

It's normal to eat *burgers at home as one would eat any other sort of prepared meat, with potatoes and vegetables etc on a plate.

I don't know what it means in St Louis. A 'pork steak' here is a piece of pork cut as a steak, a bit like a chop without the bone. 'Turkey steak' is used in the same way to describe a similar cut of turkey.

Rachael said...

I'm British and I disagree. A hot dog has to be a frankfurter-type sausage (and the roll should be a soft one, not a baguette). Serving normal sausages in hot-dog buns as "hot dogs" is the sort of thing well-meaning but clueless grandmothers do to disappointed kids. Like putting tomato puree on a slice of ordinary bread and calling it pizza. I'm surprised at your theatre doing it.

I'd also go with what you call the American definition of burger. A chicken burger is made of ground chicken, like you get in McDonald's. I didn't realise Nando's and GBK called pieces of chicken breast "burgers", and if I had discovered this before reading this post, I would have assumed that was an American oddity.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

I have seen "Portabello burgers" which is basically a portabello mushroom in a bun.

Incidentally, if you go to Gourmet Burger Kitchen, don't order the puy lentil burger - it is a complete misnomer; the burger is made out of potatoes with about 2 lentils per burger, most disappointing! Their lamb ones are gorgeous, though. Especially if you order them without a bun so you can have chips.

I was recently in Germany and was reminded of the origin of the word when seeing plenty of signs for "Magdeburger" this and that, pertaining to the town of Magdeburg, where we were staying, and nothing to do with meat!

Years ago in France, if you ordered a "hot-dog" in a café (always hyphenated) you got practically a whole baguette, usually spread with mustard, with two frankfurters inside and cheese toasted on the outside! Delicious. Not sure if you can get them now....

Miriam Nadel said...

It has been some years since I have been there, but I am reasonably sure that the chicken burgers at Nando's in South Africa (where the chain originated) are made from ground chicken, not a chicken breast on a bun.

lynneguist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lynneguist said...

Not sure about South Africa--their menu says 'Chicken Burger'. UK's says 'Chicken Breast Fillet Burger'.

But when I lived there, Nando's was my Sunday treat to myself. When I refer to it as 'a South African chain' in UK, people often don't believe me, but I was so happy to find it here!

biochemist said...

Thinking about the origins of the foodstuffs frankfurter and hamburger, I looked up Vienna steak on our friendly search engine. I thought it was a similar minced meat patty, as served at UK school lunch,definitely no relation to wiener schnitzel, and discovered:
in wartime UK, one 'knew' it was horsemeat (recent letter to the Times); recipes seem to involve either minced meat and carrots as well as onion, made into a patty, OR it is a tenderised cut of beef that might not otherwise be recognised as steak. Definitely ersatz, in all cases.

And then I looked up 'berliner'. Oh Boy. Seems JFK was never in danger of calling himself a (BrE)jam doughnut because in Berlin it is known as a pfannkuchen.

Sine Nomine said...

I suppose this is vaguely off topic but what exactly is minced meat? Is that just another way to refer to ground meat? Is there a difference in preparation?

David Crosbie said...

Sine nomine

The term ground meat is never used in Britain. Well, there must be some Americans here who use it when speaking to each other. But the overwhelming majority of British English speakers never speak of ground meat, and the majority of them wouldn't even understand the term. For us, you can only grind hard, dry things.

Clearly BrE minced meat and AmE ground meat are usually the same. Whether minced would always translate as ground I can't say.

In my kitchen I have a mincer, which I still use occasionally. It does two things simultaneously:

• It compacts and pulps food (by forcing it through little holes)
• It chops the food finely or relatively finely (with revolving sharp blades)

Nowadays we use food processors to reduce foodstuffs to something you can shape or stir, but (with one exception) we label the results as if we'd used older technology.

• If we stop very early, we call the result chopped — as if we'd used a hand-held blade.

• If we carry on with relatively dry stuff (usually in a
different container) so as to produce a powder or a meal, we call the result ground — as if we'd used a mill

•If we carry on with relative wet stuff so as to produce a liquid or sludge, we call it puréed or liquidized.

• If we carry on with of firm-but-wet stuff so as to produce a mess of little bits stuck together, we call the result minced — as if we'd used a mincer.

When we buy minced meat, we generally call it mince. Unless we specify the meat as in lamb mince, veal mince etc, then everybody takes it to mean 'minced beef'.

vp said...

@David Crosbie:
The term ground meat is never used in Britain. Well, there must be some Americans here who use it when speaking to each other. But the overwhelming majority of British English speakers never speak of ground meat, and the majority of them wouldn't even understand the term. For us, you can only grind hard, dry things.

* Ground meat standardisation (from a Danish company, but clearly intended to be in British English).
* Russian chef 'murdered father-in-law, ground up meat and served him as pies to customers in popular cafe near Kremlin' from the Daily Mail, obviously. It refers to the machine as a "mincer". Perhaps fathers-in-law are particularly hard and dry :)

David Crosbie said...

vp

Up to a point, Lord Copper. The Danish example is, well, Danish. And the Mail example is a Past Simple of grind up — not a single word and not an adjective.

No doubt, ground meat is gaining, well, ground in British awareness, but there's still a long, long way to go. And actual usage by BrE speakers is way behind that.

David Crosbie said...

The Mail's 'grinding up his flesh' may signal the start of a new trend in BrE, or it may be an aberration. The status quo is reflected in

Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum
I smell the blood of an Englishman
Be he living or be he dead
I'll grind his bones
(the hard and dry bits of him)
to make my bread

vp said...

@David Crosbie: Up to a point, Lord Copper.

Please forgive me. Unqualified (or insufficiently qualified) generalizations are like a red rag to a bull, especially if I haven't yet drunk my morning chai.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing to say about burgers of whatever variety. Just wondering if there's a place on the interwebs where we could watch/listen to your How America Saved English talk.

David Crosbie said...

Spiced mixed bean burger with tzatziki (v)

The (v) indicates that the burger is made of beans — not a meaty hamburger with added beans. Could a menu in America use this burger name?

David Crosbie said...

Lynne

I'm supposed to be reducing my beef intake for environmental reasons

The blurb at the end of your link claims that they serve locally sourced fayre. So not too many food miles.

Dru said...

If I heard meat referred to as 'ground' I think I would assume it was ground to a sort of slurry or paste consistency, rather than the lots of little lumps one associates with normal mince. But I agree, 'mince' is a normal term here, and 'ground' is not.

'Vegburger' (g is soft) or 'veggie-burger' both strike me as familiar words, and everyone here would know what they mean.

By the way, the comment about bambi-burgers was from me but I pressed the wrong key and it has appeared as anonymous.

Anonymous said...

One Time In Band Camp We Had "Saugi/Saugy/Soggy Dogs"... Rhode Island

Anonymous said...

Also Here In New England We have "New England Style" Buns, Which Are Buns With The Crust Cut Off Of The Sides. Makes For Easy Toasting! ©®

Anonymous said...

And A Question For The World... Submarine-Style Sandwiches, Does Anyone Else Call Them "Grinders"?

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

Submarine-Style Sandwiches, Does Anyone Else Call Them "Grinders"?

I have a feeling this topic has been covered elsewhere, and Lynne asks us to post comments on the relevant post, even if it is five years later. Although I can't actually find the relevant post....

But I will just say that hamburgers in buns are not called "sandwiches" in the UK.

lynneguist said...

Anonymous: No, the talk is not online. If it were, I wouldn't be getting all these gigs to give it. I happily give it anywhere, for travel expenses. I wouldn't give it in the US and a lot of it would probably baffle Americans, as it is particularly aimed at unpicking British beliefs about America(ns) and language, mentioning UK media stories and locally famous people. I could give talks in the US (if anyone ever wanted to coordinate some with my travels in the US), but they would have to be different talks.

If any SIXTH FORM COLLEGES out there would like me to come and talk about Americanisms and about why English Language is a great thing to study at university, I'm super-happy to come, and might even be able to rustle up my own travel money.

David: the beef's local pedigree doesn't matter as much as how much energy and land goes into producing it.

I have not covered 'grinders', which is a New England word, but I think I may have mentioned (when discussing sandwiches) that these things have lots of local names. My aim here is to focus on dialect at the national level. But if you are interested in that kind of thing, Bert Vaux covered it: http://www.tekstlab.uio.no/cambridge_survey/views/1104


David Crosbie said...

Mrs Redboots

Although I can't actually find the relevant post....

The link was hiding in plain sight. If you click on the words

(in the American use of this word), a type of sandwich

you'll get to baked goods.

Anonymous said...

David Crosbie - I think there are more exceptions than rule to your Something-burger breakdown: In the US, a cheese or bacon burger would have the cheese or bacon on top, a black bean or turkey burger would be made of black beans or ground turkey, and a mushroom burger could be either.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see this elsewhere in the comments, but to me (in Iowa), a "beefburger" is loose cooked ground beef served on a hamburger bun. (We also call these sandwiches Maid-Rites after the restaurant that has served them for decades.) "Burger" is often used for a hamburger and never that I've heard for a beefburger. I visit concession stands a lot for my kids' activities, and I've never heard anyone question the use of either term -- we all seem to know what we're getting.

Anonymous said...

I should have said in my post above that a loose-meat beefburger is different than a Sloppy Joe, which usually has a tomato and seasoning sauce. We top a beefburger with the same condiments as you would use on a hamburger.

David Crosbie said...

Anonymous

David Crosbie - I think there are more exceptions than rule to your Something-burger breakdown:

Well, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised to have got the AmE somewhat wrong. But I assure you that BrE SOMETHING burger is almost always made of SOMETHING — except for some American dishes imported to our menus along with with their American names (cheeseburger, baconburger and not much else.)

jafd said...

Hello, Lynne and followers,

Youse might want to check out
http://www.seriouseats.com/maps/united-states-of-burgers?ref=pop_serious_eats

Thanks for the effort you put into this blog, and please keep up the great work.

Johnny E said...

As noted earlier, I think there's a sense with "hot dog" in BrE that a frankfurter in a soft bun with ketchup and American mustard is sort of the Platonic ideal, but that a chipolata in a crusty roll with ketchup and Dijon is entirely possible as an approximation. (I for one welcome this as I don't really like frankfurters, but I think that's just a personal preference).

Many burger vans/chip shops offer both, distinguishing them either as "hot dogs; sausages" or "hot dogs - frankfurter; [alternative type of sausage]".

Lanta said...

My contribution to the discussion re types of sausages in British hot dogs:

If I bought a hot dog from a van or something, I would expect it to be a frankfurter (which is the main reason I probably WOULDN'T get one as I don't like them much).

However, I would be astonished if a hot dog that wasn't sold by a business (e.g. if made by a friend, or sold by parents at a school fair) was a frankfurter. I've never even noticed them in the supermarket, to be honest (though admittedly I've also never looked).

The two types of hot dogs I'm most accustomed to are:

1. The tinned variety, slim and soft sausages cooked in water on the stove.
2. On the barbecue - usually thicker sausages for obvious reasons, though no particular type.

In all cases they would be within bread rolls - but a particular type of slim rolls. I've never heard the term "hot dog" applied to a sausage in a round bun - which cafes, bakeries etc sell as breakfasts.

starwefter said...

Describing the meat as something put through a grinder vs. mincer doesn't really help, because I think we call the same item by two different names, also. I have my mother's meat grinder; I don't use it often but I have occasionally. It clamps onto a table and you drop whole clumps of meat in the top where a spiraling "screw-like" section forces them through little holes past cutting blades as you crank the handle. I don't remember the brand name (if it even has one stamped on it) but it looks something like this: http://media.qcsupply.com/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/5/1/510481.jpg That sounds like what David Crosbie referred to as a mincer if I'm understanding him correctly.

Before it's cooked everyone around here just calls the uncooked meat hamburger, but the stores actually call it ground beef instead. Veggieburger I think is slang, but I have heard soyburger in the health food store to refer to burger made from soybeans -- and as someone said earlier, sometimes the (something) burger means it's made of something else like turkey burger, other times it means it's a basic ground beef hamburger topped with whatever -- bacon, cheese, mushrooms, etc. One of the fast food places sells a bacon double cheeseburger, which means you get two beef patties, topped with cheese and bacon. You will also generally get shredded lettuce, a tomato slice and a couple slices of dill pickle with one of those, and some sort of mayonnaise based sauce, and as said, the cheese will be a bit melted. (There's a reason I don't order this.....) I think the defining difference is if you can use it as a topping (cheese, bacon, mushrooms...), then it goes on, but you still have a beef patty, if you can't (soybeans, turkey, venison) then you make the patty out of it instead.

Also, here I've never heard red hots refer to hot dogs, only to the candy. I have heard brats used as shorthand for bratwurst, actually it's what we normally say anymore, and it is pronounced differently. Both would be almost always be served in a hot dog bun, though you can do other things, like cut a hot dog up into macaroni and cheese (not the good homemade kind, but the cheap kind you make quickly from a prepackaged box). A footlong is just an extra long hot dog, same type of meat item, but instead of being five to six inches long (13 to 15 cm.) it would be probably around eight or nine inches (20 to 23 cm.). For the record, I'm in western South Dakota, near the Wyoming border, and I'm 56.

And this brings up a rather related question -- we refer to the round buns as hamburger buns and the long buns as hot dog buns. Is this the same in Britain, or do you call them something else?

David Crosbie said...

Starwefter

That sounds like what David Crosbie referred to as a mincer if I'm understanding him correctly.

Yes, that's what I think of as a heavy-duty mincer for professionals. My mother's mincer had a much shorter tube. My own mincer is the same shape as my mother's but is considerably lighter, with the container bits made of plastic. It looks more or less like this model.

David Crosbie said...

Starwefter

And this brings up a rather related question -- we refer to the round buns as hamburger buns and the long buns as hot dog buns. Is this the same in Britain, or do you call them something else?

Bakers and supermarkets may use the terms, especially at this time of year (barbecue weather), but I don't think many ordinary punters would use them. As Lynne observed on another thread, we seldom use bun for something that isn't sweet.

The safest way to be understood is Some round rolls for hamburgers, please. Some long rolls for hot dogs, please.

For other terms, visit Lynne's baked good thread.

kitchenmudge said...

I noticed your link to an earlier post metioning the word "barbecue", and you might wish to revisit that word. I don't know what it means to the Brits, but to an American cook who knows what he's doing, it's a method of cooking: low and slow. Burgers and dogs are not barbecued. They are grilled. Your earlier post did correctly point out that it can also be the meat cooked by the barbecue method.

David Crosbie said...

Kitchemudge

British English use is very simple:

• The verb to barbecue means to grill something — anything — out of doors

• The countable noun a barbecue denotes one of two things
—1. an apparatus on which the stuff is grilled
—2. a single occasion when people come together, grill and eat the stuff

The thread War of Independence/Revolutionary War and an aside on barbecue indicates that American English usage is much more complicated and more nuanced. Because the word has been so long in popular usage there are historical and regional variations. With your foodie nom-de-plume you may object to the variations, but the evidence is there that they exist.

American English also has an uncountable noun as in some barbecue — which is absent from British vocabulary.

As with hot dog and hamburger, we use the term for what strikes us as unusual and interesting about the American foodstuff. What you mean by the words isn't so relevant (to us).

See also red hots for use of hot dog.

ek said...

If what Johnny E says of BrE is correct, then I would say BrE and AmE have the same ideal version of what a hotdog is, but different essential requirements.

In AmE, in my experience, the prototypical hotdog is just what Johnny E describes, a frankfurter on a soft bun, with catsup, mustard and relish being the standard toppings, though served plain and you add them yourself.

But a frankfurter without a bun is still a hotdog. And a brat on a bun is not.

David Crosbie said...

Ek

You'll never persuade a Brit of my generation that a hot dog can be a mere sausage. Younger speakers may eventually be conditioned into the American usage — not by language activists but by food industry packaging and marketing.

The up-market supermarket I usually patronise (Waitrose) is celebrating the unusual hot 'barbecue' weather by putting cans and jars of sausages in brine called hot dogs on its shelves. (There's even a jar of red hots.) A slightly less premium supermarket (Sainsburys) is selling something even rarer: sausages called hot dogs dry and wrapped in plastic.

Most British supermarkets sell sausages called frankfurters all year round.

Dru said...

A sausage of any kind on its own is not (UK usage) a 'hot dog'. It only becomes one by being served in a roll, preferably + fried onions but not essential. The onions (to me) are more essential than mustard. The roll needs to be a long one rather than a round one because of the shape of a sausage.

A round roll, as used for a burger (also please with fried onions) I'd usually call a 'bap'.

I can't off hand think of a generic word for a long roll. However (to me) a 'finger roll' is a small one, probably too small for a sausage, and a 'brioche' is one like a small fat French stick, usually, though, used for serving things which include salad.

On mustard incidentally, one friend of mine says of French mustard, 'it's quite nice as a flavouring as long as you don't call it mustard'. I agree with him, but he does come from Norfolk (for US readers, where most proper English mustard comes from).

biochemist said...

I have just re-read the original post with its comments about cheese ... surely the main difference between American(-style) cheeseburgers and the British 'cheeseburger with pretensions' is that the latter will invariably use a hard cheese such as real cheddar - this is unlikely to melt even with prolonged contact with a hot meat patty, hence the different way of serving it.
The American processed cheese slice that is used commercially, and is also available in UK supermarkets, contains a surprisingly small amount of cheese and melts very readily. It really only has a place as a garnish, providing very little nutrition.

lynneguist said...

@biochemist: In the US, all kinds of cheese are melted on burgers. Cheddar melts if you expose it to heat--the difference in the UK is that it is not put on the burger while the burger is being cooked, as it would be in US.

Ginger Yellow said...

However, I would be astonished if a hot dog that wasn't sold by a business (e.g. if made by a friend, or sold by parents at a school fair) was a frankfurter. I've never even noticed them in the supermarket, to be honest (though admittedly I've also never looked).

Pretty much every supermarket sells frankfurters (either the Herta brand or Polish brands I'm unfamiliar with). That said, even I as a US born Brit wouldn't use them for hot dogs in a barbecue. People here expect sausages. I do use however use them for a rice based dish with barbecue sauce.

FLbasedBrit said...

The UK hotdog conumdrum is further confused by the existence of something called "Hot Dog Sausages". These aren't Frankfurters, but flopply nasty things generally tinned, and made from mechanically recovered "meat".

The look of surprise an unitiated American gets when being handed a British "sausage dog" (as I've heard them described since moving stateside) is nothing compared to that when they find out the yellow stuff they have generously squeezed is actually English Mustard!

starwefter said...

This whole frankfurter/hot dog thing has gotten me thinking, and while I never would call it a frankfurter myself, and don't think I have ever heard someone call it that, if someone came up to me in the store and asked "Do you know where the frankfurters are?" I would know what they were talking about -- so the term isn't unheard of in America, or at least wasn't in my youth in the 1960s. I think it was more likely to be shortened to franks though, and that one anymore might take me a moment to process, for my brain to track down the right pathway so to speak.

I think I did hear them called wieners (pronounced "WEE-nerz) occasionally when I was young; I'd know what someone was looking for then also. I also found this, about the spelling: http://www.beedictionary.com/common-errors/weiner_vs_wiener And the Vienna sausages that came in a can were different, they were much smaller, and softer, something else entirely.

David Crosbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Crosbie said...

starwefter

Some contributor to Wikipedia claims that frankfurters and weiners are the same thing — the latter Austrian word (='Vienna') being, perversely, the Swiss name.

Musically, both terms have been immortalised:

1 By Bo Carter, master of the single entendre. Listen to his recording of Please Warm My Weiner. (The title was re-used for an album of hokum. Type Please Warm My Weiner into Google images to see its striking cover.)

2. The song which sounds like a British description of hot dogs Frankfurter Sandwiches.

Actually, I've come to doubt whether American hot dogs are made with the sort of frankfurter that's sold in Britain. Your sausages seem to be beef or at least beefy; our frankfurters seem to be decidedly porky. They may also be firmer.

lynneguist said...

The best American hot dogs are kosher and therefore beef. My faves have natural casings. In my experience UK frankfurters are inedibly mushy in the mouth. So it's no wonder most would prefer a Cumberland or Lincolnshire.

starwefter said...

David Crosbie

*blinks* Good grief -- what did I just listen to? *blinks some more and falls off my chair laughing!*

That was beyond awesome!! Thank you for the link!! (Yes, I'm about to use up my allotment of exclamation points.)

We actually have two types of hot dogs sold regularly in stores (at least where I live), both kinds of them packaged in the plastic already earlier referred to. One is made from pork and chicken, the other is all beef, both are usually sold under the same brand name and clearly labeled as to which they are, and the all beef usually cost more. They vary in price by brand from very cheap to rather expensive, but as Lynne says, the best are all beef and usually kosher. I've always heard you really don't want to know what goes into the making of hot dogs, but my impression is that they are both from the ... uh, left over excess for lack of a better term? That said, I agree, I had some were kosher beef, hideously expensive (two to three times the price of the ones I usually buy), and insanely wonderful, as in you've-just-died-and-gone-to-heaven better than the usual ones I buy.

charlie tuna said...

yank here. and while i fully understand the issue here, i am puzzled over reader comments about "a mere sausage" vis-à-vis hotdogs. sausage is a major UPGRADE over a hotdog! going to an event expecting (US) "hotdogs" and finding sausages would surprise me as well, but only insofar as i'd be surprised to find filet mignon where hamburgers had been advertised. i'd keep my mouth SHUT and enjoy my good fortune.

btw, in my native boston, "hotdog" is the norm, but "frankfurt" sans -er comes next (like hamburg and cheeseburg). i rarely hear the "frankfurter" except in rocky horror discussions.

also, "red hot" is a very specific (super spicy and BRIGHT RED) TYPE of hotdog. i don't know anyone who uses that for hotdogs in general -- is that regional?

charlie tuna said...

PS - your original point reminds me of an experience i had in japan. while there are a few non-beef uses of steak in english ("swordfish steak"), i think we can all agree there is a DEFAULT meaning to "steak" alone.

so imagine my surprise when i ordered "steak" and got...TOFU! not b/c it was some sort of vegan substitute but just b/c the owner decided "tofu steak" was as good a default as any. in perfect english, she parried my complaint with "OUR steak is tofu - did you want a meat one instead maybe?"

LOL. live and learn. what do you expect in a country where hotdogs are made of...FISH?!

("wiener" the term to use for a meat one....)

Sarah said...

I'm sorry, but I feel the need to clear something up. A COOK OUT involves hamburgers and hot dogs. A BARBEQUE serves barbequed meat--low and slow my friends and certainly no hamburgers.

But, maybe that's just a Texas thing?

lynneguist said...

That's the kind of thing that's discussed (in the comments at least) in the 'barbecue' post, so click through if you'd like to be a part of that discussion. It's a very regional word.

Scott P. said...

"I didn't see this elsewhere in the comments, but to me (in Iowa), a "beefburger" is loose cooked ground beef served on a hamburger bun. "

I've heard that called a Coney Island Burger.

Anonymous said...

Beeing from Germany I'm used to Frikandels (a long, skinless, dark-coloured meat sausage from the Netherlands- usually deep-fried) in a Hot Dog bun.
I consider Wiener or Frankfurter Würstchen not as the real deal, so imagine my disappointment ordering a Hot Dog in the US for the first (and last) time and getting one as sold at Ikea. I felt betrayed ;o)

Barry said...

Aren't they called Hamburgers because they are from Hamburg? Frankfurters are from Frankfurt. Weiners are from Vienna....