While the history of bratwurst is difficult to trace, most historians trace the oldest reference to sausage in the ancient Greek classic The Odyssey. In it, the narrator describes "some goats' paunches down at the fire, which we have filled with blood and fat, and set aside for supper; he who is victorious and proves himself to be the better man shall have his pick of the lot." Clearly, the history of sausage originates with a desire for proper butchering, to preserve as much meat from the catch as possible.
Sausage may have its roots in ancient Greece, but it has certainly developed strong associations with German culture. According to historian Alan Davidson, the best cured sausage comes from colder mountainous regions, like Germany, where not only was food more available during cooler months, but the dry winds from the North aided in curing process. The now famous term "bratwurst" derived from the Old High German words brät ("finely chopped meat") and wurst ("sausage"), the latter likely stemming from the earlier wirren ("mixture").
In Germany, the appetite for sausage has always run deep. During the 16th century, a jailed man named Hans Stromer reportedly ate a total of 28,000 bratwursts behind bars. And famed butcher Karl Sterzing is said to have grilled more than 2 million sausages at his home between 1945 and 1985. In 2007, a historian named Hubert Erzmann discovered a yellowing piece of parchment dated to 1432 upon which was a handwritten law regarding the correct production and preservation of thuringian rostbratwurst, a popular style of sausage. This find proved the sausage preservation law stretched back even earlier than the Bavarian beer purity law of 1516, a significant claim to fame for many wurst aficionados.