In the mid-20th century, Americans had a great enthusiasm for all manner of keepsakes and mementos cast in bronze. On October 17, 1960, the National Hot Dog Council presented a life-size hot dog cast in bronze on a marble base to Republican vice-presidential candidate Henry Cabot Lodge Jr (1902-1985).
In the blur of events during the hard-fought presidential campaign, Lodge came to mistakenly believe that he had received the unusual gift during a visit to Nathan’s, the famous hot dog emporium in New York City.
The presentation letter read, “A million miles of hot dogs will be consumed in the United States this year and we hope that every one of these hot dog lovers casts a vote for you and Dick Nixon.”
Lodge was the grandson of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924), a friend of Theodore Roosevelt who successfully campaigned against the League of Nations after the First World War. Lodge’s Jr.’s great-grandfather was Secretary of State under President Chester A. Arthur, Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (1817-1885).
After attending Harvard, Lodge Jr. was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and won election as a Senator from Massachusetts in 1936. He resigned from the Senate to serve in the Second World War and returned there after the war, before leading the movement to draft Dwight D. Eisenhower. However, he lost his own Senate seat to Democrat John F. Kennedy, who had also served in the war.
In the election of 1960, Lodge became the Republican nominee for Vice President on the ticket with Richard Nixon. They narrowly lost to Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He went on to serve as a diplomat in the administrations of Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford and was a failed presidential contender again in 1964.
The bronze hot dog was recently selected as a “Favorite Thing” by Massachusetts Historical Society custodian George Major. You can learn why he chose the hot dog, which is held by the Society, in a short video located here.
Photo of the bronze hot dog courtesy the Massachusetts Historical Society.