The history: While Germans and Austrians disagree about who first invented the hot dog, mentions of sausages date back to Roman times, though it was German “dachshund” sausages that first caught the attention of the American public. The sausages were wildly popular at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where many say the invention of the hot dog bun occurred.
What to try: and where to eat it: the Chicago-style, no-ketchup-allowed dog at Gene and Jude’s in River Grove, Illinois; the classic Coney dog at American Coney Island in Detroit; and a Recession Special at Gray’s Papaya in New York City.
The history: Perhaps the most iconic item on any all-American menu, apple pie first came to the U.S. by way of British, Swedish, and Dutch immigrants, where it was a staple of colonial diets for more than a century thanks to its cheap preparation. During World War II, apple pie became inextricably linked to American culture, and has since become a fixture of Americana.
What to try: and where to eat it: the French apple at A la Mode Pies in Seattle; the homemade, crème-anglaise-topped apple pie at Cowbell in New Orleans; and the overstuffed apple pie Dangerously Delicious Pies in Washington, D.C.
This image may contain Macaroni, Food, and Pasta
Photo by Rina Jordan Photography
Macaroni and cheese
The history: The mouthwatering combination of pasta and cheese predates the founding of America by several hundred years, but Thomas Jefferson is widely credited with introducing the much-loved dish into American cuisine. After a trip through Italy, Jefferson brought a pasta maker and Parmesan cheese back to Virginia and famously served the dish at a state dinner in 1802.
What to try: and where to eat it: the “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in New York and Seattle; the No. 51 Mac & Cheese with Wisconsin cheddar and SarVecchio at The Old Fashioned in Madison, Wisconsin; and the Mac ‘n Cheesetique topped with truffle-infused bread crumbs at Cheesetique in Arlington, Virginia.