Imagine you are taking a bite from a sandwich. It’s just a sandwich, nothing special. A few pieces of meat complimented by some veggies or bacon all tied together with a condiment or sauce, perhaps a nice relish or spiced mustard and tucked between some kind of bread or similar processed carbohydrate. Now imagine you pull back from this bite and, to your surprise, you are not holding a sandwich, but a hot dog. Or just a sandwich. No wait, it’s both. It’s a hot dog and a sandwich. No that’s not right, it’s a hot dog, which is a sub-category of sandwich, unique it’s own way, actually no, it’s in its own category.
Since the creation of the hot dog, its placement in the hierarchy of hand-held foods has been highly debated by some of the greatest culinary and scientific minds. Today, I will end the debate. Today, your knowledge of what is and what is not and the hot dog will be challenged and broken down until your paradigm is shattered. The hot dog is a sandwich.
Before you object, you sandwich traditionalist, let me break down three common arguments against a sandwich hot dog marriage.
1. A hot dog only has one piece of bread, a sandwich must have two.
2. A hot dog is made with a special kind of meat, therefore it is not a sandwich.
3. Just because they share anatomical similarities does not make them the same.
I suppose I should start with the dictionary definition of sandwich: “an item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with meat, cheese, or other filling between them, eaten as a light meal.” Now, you can clearly see that Merriam Webster has decreed that a sandwich must consist of two pieces of bread. A hot dog only has one piece of bread, so then it’s not a sandwich, right? Wrong. Let’s first think about the implications of such a statement. To say that a hot dog bun does not constitute two pieces of bread is to say that a submarine sandwich is not comprised of two pieces of bread. Surely, we don’t want to live in a society where you can’t get a sandwich at subway. I, for one, don’t have to live in that world. You see, I have grasped that a hot dog bun (or any cylindrical bread or bread substitute) is truly two pieces of bread cut into two, even though they are connected at a seam. I leave you with a final thought: If the buns are separated completely, is it then a sandwich?
On to the meat. This, of course, is a poorly thought out argument (they all are, but this one especially). The basis of the argument is that because the hot dog typically has a very specific type of meat, the classic frank, it falls into its own special category. However, the hot dog is not special. All we need to do is examine a few other sandwich sub-categories to shatter this fallacy. Let’s take, for example, the peanut butter jelly sandwich, a timeless snack. Does the unique filling of peanut butter and jam place the PBJ outside the realm of sandwich altogether? Of course not. Why then, do we make a distinction when it comes to wieners? The answer is aggressive marketing campaigns and social propaganda.
The final, and perhaps most intriguing, argument claims that hot dogs are not sandwiches solely because they simply have a similar anatomy. Essentially, even though both humans and dogs have digestive systems, a human is not a dog. The issue with this argument, of course, is that this is really an issue of classification. I maintain that the term “sandwich” is a huge umbrella term and that everything from gyros to flatbreads and even hot dogs fall under. For this reason, comparing a hot dog and a sandwich is almost non-sensical because how can you compare a monkey to a mammal? Because a hot dog has the general characteristics of a sandwich, it is a sandwich. In the same way that paninis and ham sandwiches are sandwiches.
Overall, the notion that hot dogs are not sandwiches stems from a general misunderstanding of the nature of a sandwich as well as cultural pressure to distinguish between the two. Of course, like any issue worth fighting for, it will take time to turn the hearts of sandwich traditionalists, but the hot dog as a sandwich is here to stay and, frankly, it always was.