Is the Hot Dog a Sandwich?

One of the most iconic combinations of bread and meat is without a doubt, the hot dog. A hot dog typically consists of a cooked beef sausage, cradled in a long bun split on one end. Condiments that often accompany the hot dog include mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, chopped onions, or chili. Hot dogs are widely eaten in the United States, as well as all over the globe.

One thing that people cannot seem to come to a consensus on is whether a hot dog qualifies as a sandwich. Here is an excerpt from a press release from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) in the United States.

“New polling shows Americans are far less divided about the question, “Is a hot dog a sandwich?”  Newly released poll results show that 57 percent of Americans say hot dog on a bun is NOT a sandwich compared to 33 percent who believe it IS.  Meanwhile, 10 percent remain undecided.”



On the other side of the debate that hot dogs are in fact sandwiches, are some heavy hitters when it comes to the definition of words, notably including the Merriam Webster Dictionary, Wikipedia, and up and coming sandwich blog, The Twitter account for the Merriam Webster Dictionary actually took a firm stance in 2016 and presented an extensive argument and subsequent definition of hot dogs as being a type of sandwich. Here is a link to the article, and below you can read the definition.

“Definition: frankfurter; especially : a frankfurter heated and served in a long split roll”



We know: the idea that a hot dog is a sandwich is heresy to some of you. But given that the definition of sandwich is "two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between," there is no sensible way around it. If you want a meatball sandwich on a split roll to be a kind of sandwich, then you have to accept that a hot dog is also a kind of sandwich.

While this is reasonably definitive, even prestigious dictionaries have difficulty closing a debate on what a word means by themselves. Fortunately, the good folks at Wikipedia have fully endorsed the “hot dog is a sandwich” argument, and have provided ample evidence to back up that this is not only true today, but that it is historically accurate. The Wikipedia entry on hot dogs starts out with the bold stance presented below:

A hot dog (also spelled hotdog) is a cooked sausage, traditionally grilled or steamed and served in a sliced bun as a sandwich.

One particularly solid piece of evidence is this link to a newspaper from 1964 with an article on the anniversary of hot dog buns. The exact section has been reproduced here so you don’t have to dig through the paper. This piece of primary evidence serves to forward the argument that not only are hot dogs a type of sandwich, they have been all along. The argument here is that no great change in hot dog identity is occurring, but that a large subset of people with strong opinions on food and little historical information are about to have to make an important decision. Do you go with facts, history, observable structural mechanics and comparisons between existing sandwiches that are not up for debate, or do you go with an opinion that is simply repeated often and is backed up almost exclusively by pop culture references

Hot dogs easily pass the "sandwich test" as they have an exterior shell (hot dog bun), an interior core (hot dog and toppings), they are designed to be held by the human hand, and finally you can poke a needle through a hot dog and first hit the bun, then the hot dog sausage, then the bun again. The definitive answer is yes, a hot dog is a sandwich.