Jerry, I know what you mean regarding the term seeming to have popped up out of nowhere, but in fact, it has actually existed for about 40 years. Although the exact origin is debated, the most popular theories are related to actual dog food:
- The Lorne Greene Alpo dog food commercials from the 1970s, in which he says that he feeds Alpo to his own dogs.
- (my favorite) The president of Kal Kan would eat a can of their own dog food at the annual shareholders meeting.
The term definitely seems to have been adopted by software developers via Microsoft. This is traced to an email written in 1988 by Paul Maritz to a QA tester, the subject of which was “Eating our own Dogfood”, and was used in reference to using a Microsoft product internally.