88 Years Later, Hummels Keep Smoking The Dogs

Hummel Bros

In 1933, German immigrant brothers William and Robert Hummel purchased a bankrupt sausage factory on New Haven’s Congress Avenue for $1,000. Using a special blend of spices they had refined from their time as apprentice sausage makers in Germany, they established the Hummel Brothers sausage factory.

Eighty-eight years later, their grandchildren run the business, manufacturing more than 26 different meat products from a factory in the Long Wharf Food Terminal area.

The third generation of the Hummel family celebrated National Hot Dog day on Wednesday by taking Hill Alder Carmen Rodriguez, Mayor Justin Elicker, and Economic Development Administrator Michael Piscitelli on a tour of their factory. Gesturing to liverwurst hanging from the ceiling and aisles upon aisles of frankfurters lining the walls of the smokehouse, the Hummels explained how their business has become embedded in the traditions of the Elm City.

Rodriguez and Elicker learn about how hot dogs are smoked in the Hummel factory from Eric Hummel.

I was 13 years old when I started loading trucks and working in the deli on weekends,” said Vice President of Marketing Eric Hummel. ​It was hard work, but we would laugh our way through all of it.”


Eric Hummel.

Hummel recalled watching the 4th of July fireworks every year and Prince Philip’s and the Queen’s visit to New Haven in 1976 from the roof of the factory. He said his grandfathers used to talk about the lines of people gathering to collect their meat rations during the war.

Now Hummel’s hot dogs are stocked in over 50 restaurants around the state, from Jordan’s Hot Dogs and Mac on State Street to Al’s Hot Dogs in Naugatuck.

Piscitelli wears a hair net and coat for his tour of the Hummel Bros. factory.

You are in many ways embedded in our family,” Piscitelli said to the Hummels. ​It’s part of the tradition of our own family gatherings, dinner time meals, and holiday events.”

When Hummel Bros. outgrew its original manufacturing facility in 1972 and moved to Long Wharf, there were barely any buildings nearby.

The company’s commitment to hiring 80 percent of their employees from New Haven stems from their belief that they owe the community for the support which has enabled them to last this long, Eric Hummel said.

Carmen Rodriguez.

A majority of their employees come from the wards in the Hill and other areas of New Haven,” said Rodriguez. ​That deserves more applause than National Hot Dog day.”

One of those New Haven employees is Fausto Sanchez, who has been working in the Hummel Bros. factory for seven years.

Fausto Sanchez stands in front of an aisle of Krainerwurst.

I don’t even know how many types of hot dog we make — there’s so many!” said Sanchez, while hooking more frankfurters into a line in the smokehouse.

Sanchez said that the hot dogs stay in the smokehouse for an hour and 15 minutes while being blasted with a shower of liquid smoke.

With liverwurst hanging on the left and traditional Hummel Bros. hot dogs on the right, Eric Hummel explains the factory’s commitment to quality.

According to Eric Hummel, the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the busiest when it comes to making hot dogs. According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Americans eat around seven billion hot dogs during that season alone.

During the rest of the year, Hummel Bros. has an entire list of meat food products to manufacture for every season. They focus on hams during the holidays and corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day. Regardless of what they are making, quality is key, the Hummels said.

Our grandfathers always had a saying that if you make a cheap product, somebody can always make it cheaper,” said Eric Hummel. ​But if you make the best quality product you can make, there are very few people that can make it better.”


Justin Elicker and Carmen Rodriguez wit their Hummel Bros. hot dogs.

After the tour, Elicker, Rodriguez, and Piscitelli samples Hummel Bros. hot dogs from the deli at the front of the factory.

We’re relishing this experience and this opportunity to catch up with one another,” joked Elicker during a speech. ​While we’re not sausaged together here, we could be because everyone has gotten the vaccine.”

National Hot Dog day was established in the 1970s to coincide with the National Hot Dog lunch on Capitol Hill.

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