Have you ever wondered why we call some foods what we call them? Well, we at Spot On did some research and will try to explain some of them to you! Follow us!
According to the website Today I Found Out, the word “barbecue” comes from the Caribbean word “barbacoa”. The site also tells us that “originally, a barbacoa wasn’t a way of cooking food, but the name of a wooden structure used by Taino Indians to smoke their food.”
The spelling and meaning of the term evolved and, eventually, in 1755, the word “barbecue” was entered into Samuel Johnson’s The Dictionary of the English Language:
“to ba’rbecue. A term used in the West-Indies for dressing a hog whole; which, being split to the backbone, is laid flat upon a large gridiron, raised about two foot above a charcoal fire, with which it is surrounded.”
Today, there are many different spellings for it: barbeque, BBQ, Bar-B-Que… and many other variations. However, the “official” spelling is considered to be barbecue, with a C, which is closer to the original word.
Another creative theory, although not true, is that the word comes from the French words barbe and queue, which respectively mean “beard” and “tail”, perhaps referring to the way you roast a pig, from its top (beard) to its tail. Even though when you join both words you get a similar sound to “barbecue”, this is just not true.
And speaking of creative origin theories, there is another one that says the word comes from an American roadhouse that would advertise themselves as having “bar, beer and cue” (the last of which referring to pool tables). There are no historical records to confirm this, however.
The name comes from Medieval Latin “bis coctus“ – “bis” meaning “twice” and “coctus” meaning “cooked”, “twice cooked”, which is the way most biscuits are made to this day. From the same root are the French word “biscuit“, the Italian word “biscotto” and the Portuguese word “biscoito“.
Frankfurter/wiener (hot dog sausage)
When you hear the name “frankfurter sausage”, the first thing that comes to mind is the city of Frankfurt, in Germany. And you wouldn’t be wrong! The sausage is called this exactly because of the city.
All right, so that was easy, but what about “wieners”? They’re the same thing, aren’t they? But why a different name? Well, according to the website wiseGEEK, the name “wiener” comes from the German name for the city of Vienna, in Austria. While in English it’s pronounced “wee-ner”, in German it’s pronounced “veena” and… Wait, isn’t that what people from Curitiba call hot dog sausages (“vina”)? Ha! You learn something new every day, don’t you?
By the way, remember you can always call them “hot dogs” if you don’t know the difference between a frankfurter and a wiener!
Although a lot of people may think this name comes from coupling “ham” and “burger”, making people wonder why there’s usually no ham in a hamburger, just like the frankfurters, there’s reason to believe the name also comes from a German city: Hamburg.
Nobody really knows who in fact created the hamburger or why it’s called a hamburger, and there are many claims. According to the neat Wikipedia article on the subject, Louis Nassen, from Connecticut, Charlie Nagreen, from Wisconsin, Otto Kuase, from Germany, Oscar Weber Bilby, from Oklahoma, Frank and Charles Menches, from Hamburg, New York (which raises suspicion on whether the name comes from the German city or this one), and Fletcher Davis, from Texas, among others, all say they have invented the hamburger (which has evolved to simply “burger”).
The truth is that we may never know who made the snack first, but as long as there’s cheddar, bacon and fries on the side, all we can do is thank everyone involved!
We’ve explained where the name for the sausage comes from, but what about the snack as a whole?
Though many people claim the name “hot dog” comes from the way it looks when you put the sausage inside the bun and the ends “hang out” – one end being the dog’s head and the other being its tail – there are no sources to confirm this.
In reality, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council website (yes, it does exist) the name is said to come from the fact that people were a bit suspicious as to where the meat actually came from. You see, it wasn’t very uncommon for German people to eat dog meat back in the day, so, as a joke, people started calling these frankfurter sausage sandwiches “hot dogs”. They probably weren’t serving dog meat, but you never know.
By the way, it’s worth mentioning that the Germans also called frankfurters “dachshunds”, which translates as “little dogs” (dachshund is also what this dog breed is called in English), and this must have had some influence on the name as well.
According to the website What’s Cooking, America?, John Montague, also known as the 4th Earl of Sandwich, used to play cards and bet money. But he wasn’t your regular Vegas gambler – he would play for hours and hours, without even getting up for food! Because he needed to eat but he didn’t want to get his cards greasy, he started asking his servants to bring him meat served between two pieces of toasted bread. Seeing this, other people sitting at the same table began ordering “the same as Sandwich”, and that’s how the name became popular.
To understand where the name “sundae” comes from, you have to understand what an “ice cream soda” is. Ice cream sodas, or ice cream floats, are basically scoops of ice cream floating over some sort of soft drink, such as coke, club soda or root beer. You can learn how to make ice cream soda on this link, if you wish.
According to a source on the City of Evanton’s Public Library website, the name came from a prohibition on the sale of soda on Sabbath, that is, on Sunday.
In order to obey the law and not get in trouble, some confectioners started selling ice cream soda without the soda on Sunday – that is, basically ice cream, syrup, whipped cream and a cherry on top. Because it was getting pretty confusing ordering ice cream soda and not getting the “soda” part of it, some confectioners started calling the dish “Sunday”.
The problem with naming the dish after the day of the Sabbath is that it’s a very sacred day for the Methodists, the makers of the dish decided to spell it “sundae” instead – and that’s how we still spell it today.
As the source on the website says, there are many cities who claim to have made the first sundae, but the story still makes a lot of sense and should well be considered.
We hope you enjoyed knowing where these food names come from! And we also hope we didn’t get you craving – in which case, we’re sorry!