Horowitz is using the prominence of hot dogs at the 1939 World's Fair to chart the rise of this previously obscure form of sausage to prominence as one of America’s most ubiquitous meat products. He is also using the hot dog to explain the larger dynamics of meat consumption in America.
Originally just one of countless sausage varieties, hot dogs became popular in the early 20th century as a quick and easy food in places of popular culture, such as baseball games. The 1939 World’s Fair presented newly developed production technology that allowed hot dogs, following World War II, to become a popular meal at home as well, especially among families with children.
The lecture is drawn from Horowitz's forthcoming book, Putting Meat on the American Table (Johns Hopkins, December 2005). The book explains how America became a meat-eating nation from the colonial period to the present by looking at the relationships between consumer preference and meat processing in the production of beef, pork, chicken and hot dogs.