Inventor of Frank-a-Matic Dies at 97

Now you know what the Frank-a-Matic looks like.
Now you know what the Frank-a-Matic looks like. Photo: courtesy of Quality Food Equipment

It’s likely that you’ve never heard of Ray Townsend or the Frank-a-Matic, but if you’ve eaten a hot dog lately (and we think you should), then you’ve probably tasted the result. Townsend recently died at the age of 97, and the Wall Street Journal gives a fitting eulogy for the man who “revolutionized the hot dog industry.” Before his invention, hot dogs had to be made by hand. The Frank-a-matic was able to kick out around 30,000 links per hour, significantly lowering the price and marketability of the hot dog. Up until the 90s, it was estimated that 95 percent of hot dogs in the United States were produced on his machines. While he was a lifelong resident of Iowa, his ties to Chicago were strong, as he sold his very first machines to the stockyards. All we can think of saying is “Thanks.” [WSJ via Skyfullofbacon/Twitter]