A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 27, 2006
Red Hots
"Red hots" came into use before the term "hot dogs." Some say that Harry Stevens coined "red hots" at the Polo Grounds in the early 1900s. Like the standard "hot dog" Polo Grounds story, this is also a myth.

"Red hots" probably originated in Chicago slang.


12 November 1886, Duluth (MN) Tribune, pg. 4:
Inasmuch as the old company (St. Paul & Duluth) has half a million in loose money, no wonder the guaranty was good enough to cause the bonds to be snapped up like red hots on a winter night.

30 September 1887, Aberdeen (SD) Weekly News, pg. 5:
For a few nights past there has been a "red-hot" fiend on the streets, freezing the blood in your veins with a solo entitled, "Red Hots."

18 January 1890, Salem (OH) Daily News, pg. 5, col. 1:
29 January 1890, Knoxville (TN) Journal, pg. 7:
CHICAGO'S NIGHT COOKS
[From the Chicago News -- ed.]
(...)
"This class is the most common," said the detective. "See, he sells hash, bread and Frankfort sausage, red-hot."

"Vill de shentlemens haf some red-hots und brod?" asked the cook, as he placed his copper kettle on the curb. In a twinkling the table was set up. His wares were good. Hot, home-made hash, with good bread and butter, made excellent sandwiches for a hungry rounder or policeman. The red-hots were generally cut in two longitudinally and smothered in mustard. The merchant willingly told how he made his living.

"You see, frents, I sleeps me in de day-time, 'cause de beeblers what vants mine stock dey be sleepin, too. Mine woman, she cooks de hash ofery afternoon und I cook de red-hots vile I carries dem. Lots of fellows make money mit dis business. See, in dis part I keeps de hash, and here are de red-hots. Under is de lamp what keeps de blace hot. In dis box I carries the brod and mustard. I shust valk me round, und de peoples what is hungry dey buys. Dey be beoples vhat only work aroun' nights. Some be tieves, some gamblers, some policemen and odder ting. Oh yes, I make more money als vorkin' in a restaurant."

25 January 1890, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 3:
Philip Buchbinder, 98 years old, is missing from his home, No. 73 Bingham street. Notwithstanding his age he industriously peddled sausages, and his wheezing cry of "red-hots" could be heard nightly around the saloons and corners of the neighborhood. He expected to live long enough to cry out "red-hots" for the visitors to the World's Fair.

10 August 1890, Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, pg. 1:
RED HOTS! RED HOTS!!
Sausages Are Cooked in a Burning
Randolph Street Meat
Market.

23 September 1894, Duluth (MN) News-Tribune, "Chicago at Night," pg. 3:
More numerous than the lunch wagon is the strolling salesman of "red hots." This individual clothed in ragged trousers, a white coat and cook's cap, and unlimited cheek, obstructs the night prowler at every corner. He carries a tank in which are swimming and sizzling hundreds of Frankforters or Wieners. These mysterious denizens of the steaming deep are sold for five cents, which modest charge includes an allowance of horseradish or some other tear-producing substance.

15 August 1898, Omaha (NE) World Herald, pg.7:
WANTED -- Two good Coney Island red hot or hamburger sausage men, must be quick and good spieler; four jinrikasha men.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Tuesday, June 27, 2006 • Permalink