Though the etymology of "half-smoke" possibly comes from the original half-pork, half-beef
|Chili half-smoke at Ben's Chili Bowl|
The "original" half-smoke is considered to be the sausage distributed by D.C.'s Briggs and Co. meatpackers, originating in around 1950, though Raymond Briggs started selling his half-smokes in about 1930. Eventually, Briggs was sold to another meat distributor, where, by some accounts, the quality of the meat declined.
Numerous hot dog carts in Washington, D.C., sell steamed half-smokes, with those on Constitution Avenue catering to tourists and those on Pennsylvania Avenue and many other hot dog carts throughout the downtown area serving federal employees . Half-smokes are the "official dog" of the Washington Nationals. The most prominent location is often cited as Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington's U Street neighborhood, which gained widespread exposure when visited by Bill Cosby in the 1980s and later by President-elect Barack Obama in 2009.
Another popular location for half-smokes is the Weenie Beenie in South Arlington, Virginia, located near the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park trail. Founded in 1950, it pre-dates Ben's Chili Bowl.