Hot dogs are a lot of things, be it a boogieing Snapchat feature or a marshmallow accompaniment at Arabella Kushner’s birthday party. But there’s a lingering question that creeps up on Americans every so often, inevitably dividing the nation each time: Are hot dogs considered sandwiches?
A few experts have weighed in.
The Louisville Courier-Journal published a correction on Wednesday, in honor of National Hot Dog Day, that stated six dates on which the newspaper “incorrectly” referred to the food as a sandwich. The dates range from Oct. 2, 1887, to Aug. 4, 1966, and corrected are “egregious” mentions of a “coney island sandwich” and variations of “frankfurter sandwich.”
“We deeply regret the errors, especially that last one,” the correction read, referring to a “frankfurter sandwich with catchup.” (Just to be clear, The Washington Post’s style is to spell the POTUS-friendly condiment “ketchup.”) The paper’s executive editor, Joel Christopher, tweeted a snapshot of the correction and wrote, “We’re deadly serious about accuracy at @courierjournal.” It would appear so. By Thursday evening, he was retweeted more than 1,700 times.
But that wasn’t the end of it, as another Courier-Journal staffer set out to prove how serious he was about the subject, too. Columnist Joseph Gerth published a piece that evening critiquing his editor’s opinion. “A sandwich is nothing more than bread and some sort of filling — sometimes peanut butter, or egg salad, or even watercress — and any accompanying condiments or vegetables,” he wrote. Sometimes that filling is meat, and unless you’re “one of those food snobs,” he said, hot dogs seem to fit the description.
Dan Pashman, host of the Sporkful podcast, argued in favor (and in all caps) of Gerth’s take on Thursday, quote-tweeting Christopher. The James Beard Award-nominated podcast host, who describes himself as a “staunch sandwich conservative,” regularly dives into discussions like this one, exploring the cultural significance of all things food. (He even once debated John Hodgman, host of his own podcast, before a live audience about this very issue.)
The resurgence of this debate echoes an incident from earlier this year in which a sandwich alignment chart circulated the Internet and began a rather existential conversation on what a real sandwich consists of. The “true neutral” option? You guessed it — a hot dog.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, as Gerth mentions, decided in 2015 that the hot dog was not a sandwich, instead deeming it “an exclamation of joy, a food, a verb describing one ‘showing off’ and even an emoji.” But Merriam-Webster, the sassiest dictionary of all, disagreed almost a year later.
So which is it, truly? Let’s be frank. We might never agree.