Is Vienna sausage the same as a Wiener, or a Frankfurter?

The sausage was invented by a butcher from Frankfurt, who had moved to Vienna, which is why in Vienna it’s called a frankfurter, but in Frankfurt it’s called a wiener (Viennese).

Text and Photos by Jennifer Ellson

Frankfurter? Wiener? Vienna sausage? No, they're Bavarian sausages, Münchner Weißwurst!

Frankfurter? Wiener? Vienna sausage? No, they're Bavarian sausages, Münchner Weißwurst!

Try to order a frankfurter in Frankfurt, and you’d most likely get a blank stare. But ask for a wiener or a Vienna sausage, and the Frankfurters — the residents, not the sausages — would know what you’re talking about.

Meanwhile, do the same in Vienna — ask for a Vienna sausage, instead of a frankfurter and you’d probably hear “was is das?” (what is that?). Yes, it happened to me.

Confused yet? Bear with me, as I confuse you even more.

Frankfurt's old town

Frankfurt's old town

The story goes that the sausage was invented by a butcher from Frankfurt, Germany, hence the name frankfurter. But the butcher moved to Vienna, Austria, which is why in Vienna the sausage is called frankfurter, but in Frankfurt it’s called a wiener. The word wiener refers to Vienna, whose German name is Wien. But wiener is not used in this context in Vienna because, again, frankfurter is how they call the sausages. Still with me? Good!

Most likely, all these terms refer to a sausage made of a mixture of pork and beef. So the answer is yes, they are the same, but just to add to your confusion, in North America, Vienna sausages usually refer to a small-sized canned variety, whereas in Europe, they are normally longer and thinner sausages.

There is a real Frankfurt sausage though, called Frankfurter Würstchen. It is a thin boiled sausage of pure pork in a casing of mutton’s intestine, and has Protected Geographical Status in Germany. This means the term is only allowed to be used for sausages that are in fact produced in the area of Frankfurt am Main, just like the term champagne can only be used for the sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France.

Vienna's Opera House

Vienna's Opera House

So if you are Austrian, you are eating a frankfurter, and if you are German, you are eating a wiener, or a sausage from Vienna. But if, like me, you’re neither, then you are eating a sausage, or a hot dog.

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All rights reserved (Jennifer Ellson).

10 thoughts on “Is Vienna sausage the same as a Wiener, or a Frankfurter?

  1. And if u are brazilian, u are eating “salsicha”… Well there is only a city in Brazil that call it “Vina”(close to wiener, in portuguese), and its because the german immigration, this city is named Curitiba :)

    • Oh wow, who would’ve thunk that sausages would be that complicated?! It’s good to know about the salsichas and vinas — I will be sure to impress the waiters at my favorite churrascaria next time I visit!

      Obrigada, Karla!

  2. Pingback: Frankfurter Schule | Seit über 10.000 Jahren Erfahrung in Versklavung

  3. Thanks for lifting the confusion about the Vienna sausage! I am a native Viennese and love our local Vienna sausage stands. You can find people from all walks of life there, from blue collar workers to academics. To complement your post, here is a little primer on different types of sausages you can get there, apart from the typical Frankfurter, and the best local sausage stands: http://www.vienna-unwrapped.com/vienna-sausage.html

    • Hi Barbara! I enjoyed the local Viennese hitdog stands too, especially the ones in the 1st district, near the Stephansdom! Thanks for sharing the info abt the diff kinds of sausages one can order in Vienna! Danke schon!

    • Barbara, my spam filter thought your comment was a spam due to the link you’ve provided, hence it wasn’t posted instantly – and probably why you posted again. But I approved both posts as I don’t want readers to miss the link you’ve put. I visited your site, and I liked it! A lot of useful info about the very beautiuful city of Vienna! I wish to visit again someday.

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    • Thank you, both for your nice comment here and for linking to my story on Slovakia. I passed by your site and I enjoyed following your adventures, and the cute photo of your 2 girls! :)

      Safe travels,
      Jennifer

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