Where Did The Texas Tommy Hot Dog Come From?

The American regional hot dog scene is a world unto itself. There's the eponymous Chicago Dog served in a poppy seed bun and loaded with tomato, pickles, and chopped white onions, per First We Feast. The Danger Dog — a grilled, bacon-wrapped hot dog loaded with caramelized onions and an entire poblano chile pepper — rules Los Angeles street food, via Thrillist. There's even the Cleveland Polish Boy hot dog that isn't actually a hot dog at all. It's a grilled sausage topped with coleslaw, fries, and hot sauce (and Happy Dog makes the best hot dog in the city).

Today, we're talking about one particular regional hot dog that perhaps you haven't heard of: The Texas Tommy. According to American linguist and food historian Barry Popik, the earliest appearance of the "Texas Tommy" hot dog in print comes from a Dallas "Morning News" article published in 1955. The term "Texas Tommy" also refers to a dance popular in 1911 and a type of icebox cookie commonly made during the 1940s. But, despite first appearing in a Texas-based newspaper, that's not where the Texas Tommy got its start. So, where did it come from?

Don't mess with Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Don't let the namesake fool you. Believe it or not, the Texas Tommy hot dog was actually created in Pottstown, PA. Per local news outlet PhillyBite, the Texas Tommy is a hot dog wrapped in bacon, topped with ketchup, mustard, and a slice of American cheese, and served on a toasted bun. The hot dog gained popularity during the 1950s, but it might have been invented during the 1940s, depending on who you ask. According to the outlet, it might also include pepper jack cheese, but the specifics are up for debate. In this Texas Tommy version by Betty Crocker, the hot dogs are slit open lengthwise and stuffed with small pieces of cheese for a melty inside. There's even a Texas Tommy "Hitched" variation, in which the already-loaded dog is topped with a heaping spoonful of macaroni and cheese.

The Texas Tommy is one of many notable installations in Pennsylvania's world-renowned gastronomic Hall of Fame, including the Philly cheesesteak, soft pretzel, tomato pie, and scrapple, per local tourism guide Visit Philadelphia. And USA Today lauds the Northeast as "America's hot dog capital," which is no small feat considering the aforementioned smorgasbord that is regional U.S. hot dogs. (Admittedly, Pennsylvania rides the line between being a Midwest or Northeast state, but Philly foodies and frankfurter fans could argue that it counts.)