A hot dog is a type of fully-cooked sausage in bread, cured and sometimes smoked sausage of even texture and flavor that is softer and moister than most other sausages. It is the sausage most readily eaten as finger food, especially in the United States. It is usually placed hot in a soft, sliced bun of the same shape as the sausage, and optionally includes condiments and toppings. The resulting sandwich is also called a hot dog.
The flavor of hot dog sausages varies widely by region and by personal preference, as do the toppings on the sandwich. The flavour of the sausage itself can resemble a range of similar meat products from bologna on the bland side to cooked salami in the spicier varieties.
Hot dogs are traditionally made from beef, pork, or a combination of those meats. Unlike many other sausages (which may be sold cooked or uncooked), hot dogs are always cooked before being offered commercially. Unless they have spoiled, hot dogs may be safely eaten without further cooking though they are usually warmed up before serving. Vegetarian hot dogs and sausages which are made completely from meat analogue are also widely available in most areas where hot dogs are popular.
Hot dogs are also called frankfurters, or franks for short (named after the city of Frankfurt, Germany, the original frankfurters are made of pork only), or wieners or weenies (named after the city of Vienna, Austria, whose German name is "Wien", the original wieners are made of a mixture of pork and beef). In Australia, the term frankfurt is used rather than frankfurter. Tiny frankfurts, called cocktail franks or cheerios, are sometimes served at parties and eaten on the end of a toothpick. In the German speaking countries, except Austria, hot dog sausages are generally called Wiener or Wiener Würstchen. (Würstchen means "little sausage") In Swiss German, it is called Wienerli; but, in Austria, the terms Frankfurter or Frankfurter Würstchen are used.