Barbecue & More: US traditions with German roots

US traditions with German roots


Have you ever thought about the origins of traditional “all-American” barbecue foods? You’ll likely be surprised to know that many foods Americans associate with tailgates, picnics and barbecues actually originated in Germany. Here are the most prominent examples:


While the history of the hamburger is somewhat shrouded in mystery and there are several popular version circulating, a popular version traces North America’s favorite fast food back to Germany. The story goes that Otto Kuasw, a cook in Hamburg (hence the name), created a sandwich in 1891 with a thin, fried patty of mild beef sausage. He topped it with a fried egg and placed it all between two slices of buttered bread. This sandwich became popular among the soldiers who visited the port city. And when the soldiers traveled to the New York ports, they told the restaurant owners about their favorite Deutsches Beefsteak Sandwich. This eventually came to be known as the hamburger.

Hot Dog

Next up another American favorite: the hot dog. The German forefather to the American hot dog, the Frankfurter, looks back on a long history. It was created in 1487, five years before Christopher Columbus set sail to discover the new world. The name of this mild, finely ground sausage link is attributed to yet another German city, Frankfurt, where it first gained popularity. In the 1860s, German immigrants began selling “franks” with rolls and sauerkraut from pushcarts in New York City. And in 1871, Charles Feltman, a German-American butcher, opened the first Coney Island hot dog stand, putting the links in a long bun. Since that time, hot dogs have become standard fare at summer barbecues and baseball parks across the U.S.