Nov 16, 2013

The Presto Hotdogger

Presto Hotdogger

Tired of cooking your hot dogs the plain old boring way? Fear not! You can electrocute them! The most interesting thing about that article though, at least to me, was the multiple mentions of the Presto Hotdogger.

Presto Hotdogger

It was difficult to find information on this, but I did manage to buy one off ebay (you can get one too!). The company that made these, Presto, is still in business, and they still make a wide variety of kitchen cookware and appliances, even though the Hotdogger has been discontinued.

Presto Hotdogger

Born in 1905 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Presto actually started out as the Northwestern Steel & Iron Works company. At the time, they manufactured cement mixers, marine engines, farm engines, and a number of other products), and among these products was a steam pressure cooker developed in 1908 for the canning industry. In 1910, the USDA reported that using these cookers was a good way to prevent botulism, and as a result, these cookers became quite the hot commodity. The appliance portion of the company forked into the National Pressure Cooker Company in 1917, and in 1939, it became Presto. If you'd like to read more about Presto's history, they have a wonderful history page on their website.

Presto Hotdogger

Fast forward to 1960, Presto develops the Presto Hotdogger, which basically takes electricity directly from your wall outlet, and pumps it into a hot dog! The appliance itself can cook up to six hot dog simultaneously, and actually does not have a power switch. Instead, to turn it off, you just unplug it. On the bright side, it cooks your hot dogs in 60 seconds, and it does indeed cook them quite well. Do they taste good? Well, that's a different question. Over the next ten years, these Hotdoggers continue selling, but at some point, Presto stops producing them. I couldn't find any exact evidence for why they stopped producing them, but I'd guess that it had something to do with the introduction of the consumer countertop microwave oven, which was introduced in 1967.

Presto Hotdogger

Of course, there could be a variety of other reasons the Hotdogger stopped selling and no future iterations were produced, but the microwave seems to be a much more versatile option to cooking food, including hot dogs, and produces a cooked product that tastes just as mediocre. In fact, conceptually, the Hotdogger isn't that far from a microwave. It uses the hot dog as a resistor between the two electrodes, so it's effectively heating the water inside the hot dog. Similarly, a microwave does the same thing. But even though a microwave produces the same product, there's something cool about electricuting hot dogs that I can't quite pinpoint.

Presto Hotdogger