Questionable hot dog recipes from a bygone era

Questionable hot dog recipes from a bygone era

CHICAGO – In the mid-20th century, French food was regularly considered fancier and downright better than most restaurants in Central America.

This explains an article in the Chicago Tribune of March 30, 1960, entitled “A Magnificent Hot Dog? This One, Prepared French Style, Is” by Mary Meade. She wrote that chef John Bandera of the Sheraton-Blackstone hotel had made a frankfurter bourguignonne. The recipe, which evokes the name of a French beef stew braised in red wine, featured eight frankfurters bathed in a sauce made with butter, shallots, garlic, brown gravy and 3 cups of red wine.

Writer Mary Meade has also created her own hot dog recipes over the years, although she almost always read as if she was gritting her teeth while doing so.

An article on June 25, 1943 by Meade begins: “Mustard and piccalilli-covered red hots are great dishes for picnics and ball games, but have you considered the possibilities of frankfurters in your daily meals?” Then she gives a recipe for frankfurters with fried rice and tomatoes.

More than 20 years later, Meade didn’t care much for the hot dog. In an article dated June 9, 1966, she begins with this comment: “A red snapper is a delicate and delicious fish. It says “gourmet” on you when you think about preparing it. That’s not what a wiener says!” Then you can find a recipe called Barbecued Southern Pups, where she recommended covering the sausages in a chili sauce, wrapping them in cornmeal dough, and then baking them.

Hot dogs were popular at ball games, and here a hot dog vendor sells to fans at Wrigley Field during a game on April 14, 1970. (Phil Mascione/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Not to bully Meade, but she spent an inordinate amount of time thinking of ways not to use hot dog buns. On June 3, 1958, Meade suggested making “frankfurters in tomato rolls.” “The franks are wrapped in yeast dough – there are spices of onion juice, cheese, parsley and tomato juice. Doesn’t it sound delicious?” On May 30, 1960, she gave a recipe for Ring-a-Rosy Hot Dogs, made by “shaping hot dogs like hamburgers” so they could fit on round buns. To be fair, the April 2, 1971 recipe for a skillet with sausage and sauerkraut sounds like something I would enjoy.

(While she certainly had a fair share of questionable hot dog recipes, there is an explanation for her erratic take on hot dogs. It turned out that Mary Meade was not a real name. Instead, the pseudonym was used by a succession of female writers, common newspaper practice at the time.)

But it’s still hard to imagine enjoying Meade’s June 25, 1943, Supper Salad Bowl, which combined hot dogs with French dressing, green pepper, cottage cheese, shredded raw turnip, raw carrot, mayonnaise, lettuce, and coleslaw.

I’m also not sure you could pay me to try a “frankfurter skillet supper” (as of May 15, 1964), which combines a pound of hot dogs with green onions, chopped green pepper, lima beans, tomato sauce, and a whole cup of sour cream. I’d probably also pass on the “franks in sour cream sauce” found in a July 19, 1957 post by Doris Schacht.

Male prescription writers didn’t fare much better. In a recipe column that genuinely says “Only for men!” hot, not to be confused with another titled “Woman’s Night Out,” Morrison Wood called for the creation of Creole frankfurters. The designation is charitable a lot; I assume he got that name because of the hint of cayenne pepper and tabasco.

Even readers got in on the questionable hot dog action. On July 2, 1958, a reader sent a recipe for Hot Dog Surprises, which combined 1 pound of “frankfurters, finely chopped” with shredded sharp cheese, shredded hard-boiled eggs, chili sauce, pickle, mustard, and garlic salt. This mixture was spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and covered with halved buns.

Thankfully, in the 1980s, writers and readers finally seemed to understand that Chicago’s best hot dog dish was staring them right in the face all the time.

Earl Pionke peddles hot dogs from a stall outside his pub, Earl of Old Town, in Chicago in June 1977. (Ron Bailey/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Try the recipes yourself.


10 sausages

1/4 cup butter

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup chili sauce

Cornmeal Pastry:

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup lard

  1. Make oatmeal dough first. Sift flour, cornstarch and salt together. Cut in lard and add just enough water to moisten, about 3 to 4 tablespoons.
  2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to approx. inch thick. Cut into five 5-inch squares.
  3. Melt butter for sauce and add dry mustard, onion, lemon juice, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and chilli sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Cut the sausages in half lengthwise, almost to the ends, but not all the way through. Place two sausages diagonally on each cornmeal square. Spoon a tablespoon of barbecue sauce into each. Fold the corners of the dough over the sausages, moisten the corners and press them together.
  5. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.

Makes 5 servings.

— Mary Meade, June 9, 1966


8 frankfurters

2 tablespoons butter

3 teaspoons chopped shallots, onions or chives

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

3 cups Claret or Bordeaux wine

24 cooked pearl onions

1/2 pound whole mushrooms (fresh)

2 cups brown gravy

24 small potato balls, browned in deep fat

  1. Cut the frankfurters in three and fry them in butter for about 5 minutes. Remove meat and add shallots and garlic to the fat. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.
  2. Add wine and simmer to reduce liquid to 1 cup, about 8 minutes. Add onions, mushrooms and gravy.
  3. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add boiled potatoes and frankfurters and serve with fluffy wild rice.

Makes 4 servings.

— Mary Meade, March 30, 1960


By Mary Meade, June 25, 1943


1/2 pound sausages

1/2 cup French dressing

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

1 cup of cottage cheese

1 cup grated raw turnip

1 cup grated raw carrot

Mayonnaise and lettuce



  1. Simmer the sausages in water for 5 minutes and allow to cool.
  2. Slice the sausages and cover with French dressing. Leave in the fridge for half an hour.
  3. Combine green pepper and cottage cheese.
  4. Combine grated turnip and carrot; moisten with mayonnaise.
  5. Arrange lettuce in salad bowl. Arrange the sausages, cottage cheese, grated carrot and turnip and coleslaw in separate salad bowls. Serve with mayonnaise.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.