Skinless wieners

Passed on to me by Arne Adolfsen, this vintage ad (from the 1940s, for what was then the Visking Corp.):


Skinless wiener is pretty much immediately risible, because it’s bound to bring circumcision to mind.

From the Huffington Post on 7/1/16, in “Vintage Skinless Wiener Ad Is Mildly Suggestive”:

According to these Visking Corp ads from the 1940s, not only are skinless wieners tastier, but they’re also more tender and juicy. We’re not sure, but could they be making a commentary on circumcision while also trying to sell hot dogs? While we’re perfectly willing to accept that we may just have our mind in the gutter, we still wanted to share these vintage ads. If for no other reason than the fact that they’re absolutely bizarre.

The HuffPo piece has two examples, my #1 above and this one:


(This one advertises skinless frankfurters and wieners. Though the original Frankfurter (from the city of Frankfurt) and Wiener (from the city of Vienna) sausages were no doubt distinct, the AmE nouns frankfurter and wiener (and hot dog / hotdog) have long been referentially equivalent; various groups of speakers have preferences for one over the other, and some speakers judge hot dog / hotdog to be the neutral term, while frankfurter is more formal in style and wiener more informal, but so far as I can tell, no one takes them to have different referents.)

Two relevant (and somewhat overlapping) Wikipedia articles, on skinless hot dogs and on the Visking Corp. From the hot dog article:

“Skinless” hot dogs must use a casing in the cooking process when the product is manufactured, but the casing is usually a long tube of thin cellulose that is removed between cooking and packaging. This process was invented in Chicago in 1925 by Erwin O. Freund, founder of Visking which would later become Viskase Companies.

The first skinless hot dog casings were produced by Freund’s new company under the name “Nojax”, short for “no jackets” and sold to local Chicago sausage makers.

Skinless hot dogs vary in the texture of the product surface but have a softer “bite” than natural casing hot dogs. Skinless hot dogs are more uniform in shape and size than natural casing hot dogs and less expensive.

And from the Viskase article:

Viskase (formerly Visking) is a global corporation based out of Lombard, Illinois, United States that supplies plastic, cellulose, and fibrous film and packaging to the food service industry, including casings for processed meats such as hot dogs and sausages. Viskase has manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and France, as well as sales offices located around the world.

Edwin O. Freund, founder of what would become Viskase, sought a readily available replacement for animal intestine casing. Upon creating a cellulose casing, using the “viscose” process (also used in rayon) he realized the product stuffed well, linked, and was able to withstand the smokehouse. Quite by accident, he discovered that when the casing was removed from the product the sausages retained their shape and were firm. This was the beginning of the skinless frankfurter or hot dog.

But, wait! There’s more from Visking! Even more risible — we get the verb eat in both of them and a good fairy in the second — and with photographs of fancy wiener dishes as a bonus:



(These two are clearly from the same hand.)

I don’t know whether the ads were created in-house or (more likely) farmed out to an ad agency, but in any case the creators seem to have been unaware of the possible dangers of wiener in skinless wieners and eat wieners, not to mention fairy. I was a kid in the 40s, and I can attest that all of these usages could raise a laugh back then.

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