National Sandwich Day was last Tuesday, and while people were celebrating with piled-high sandwiches of all shapes and sizes, a debate was raging about whether to include one meat and bread combo. The controversy: is a hot dog a sandwich? The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) weighed in, and if you consider a hot dog a sandwich, they say it's time to change your mind.
"Limiting a hot dog's significance by saying it's 'just a sandwich' is like calling the Dalai Lama 'just a guy'," said the president of the NHDSC, "Queen of Wien" Janet Riley. "As the official voice of hot dogs and sausages, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) is primed to settle this debate once and for all, and our verdict is … a hot dog is an exclamation of joy, a food, a verb describing one 'showing off' and even an emoji. It is truly a category unto its own."
The question of whether a hot dog is a sandwich has been hot fodder on TV, with ESPN and The Today Show getting in on the hot beef. Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina was asked whether a hot dog was a sandwich on the first day of her campaign. Her verdict: a hot dog is not a sandwich.
Online, there was a great divide between those who thought hot dogs are and aren't sandwiches.
Fuck you guys a hot dog is totally a sandwich
— Blake Doyle (@BlakeDoyle41) October 31, 2015
if u even remotely think a hotdog is a sandwich you are out of your mind
— pag (@pgreenwood14) November 6, 2015
Is a hotdog a sandwich? — GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) November 5, 2015
Historically and semantically, the issue is a bit hazy. Back in the 1800s, hot dogs were known as "Coney Island Sandwiches" and "Frankfurter sandwiches," according to the NHDSC. But, the organization says, definitions change over time, and today a hot dog is certainly not a sandwich. The USDA definition of a sandwich might cause some consternation for those who believe a hot dog is not a sandwich. The USDA defines closed-face sandwiches as "consisting of two slices of bread or the top and bottom sections of a sliced bun that enclose meat or poultry." Merriam Webster also throws a wrench into the debate, defining a sandwich as "two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between" or "one slice of bread covered with food." New York Times food critic Sam Sifton, in his "Field Guide to the American Sandwich" published this past April, said, like burgers, hot dogs are deserving of their own special category and lineage.
— Sam Sifton (@SamSifton) November 5, 2015
One hot take suggested that a hot dog was not a sandwich, but that it became a sandwich when the bottom of the bun breaks into two separate pieces.
A hot dog is a hot dog….until the hinge breaks on the bun…then it's a sandwich — Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) November 4, 2015
It's been a tumultuous few weeks for hot dogs. They were targeted in the World Health Organization's recent report that processed meat is a cancer risk, and one report by Clear Food found that two percent of 345 hot dogs tested contained human DNA. A scientist told ABC News that the human DNA is a sign of lots of touching with human hands, but also problematic was that the same Clear Food report found that 10 percent of vegetarian dogs tested contained meat. The NHDSC called the report a publicity stunt, and reiterated that any product on the marketplace is inspected and passed by the US Department of Agriculture.
In 2013, Bloomberg wrote that America's consumption of hot dogs has fallen slightly in recent years, but largely, we continue to eat hot dogs en masse. The NHDSC estimates that we spent $2.5 billion on dogs last year alone.
Some people may continue to debate whether hot dogs are sandwiches, but a good unscientific test might be readily available. Next time you're ordering a hot dog, try ordering a "hot dog sandwich" and see what you get.