It's a tale as old as time, if Google Trends, Jimmy Kimmel, and at least one newspaper's historical archives can be believed: Is a hot dog a sandwich? Well, the local newspaper of Louisville, Kentucky, took itself to task last week on its corrections page to set the record straight.
As Courier-Journal Executive Editor Joel Christopher reported on Twitter, the newspaper referred to hot dogs as sandwiches in its pages on no less than 10 occasions over the last 130 years. The "most egregious" example of this, the paper said, is an instance when a hot dog was described as "a frankfurter sandwich with catchup." Yikes.
Christopher tweeted that he himself wrote the correction. Here's the tweet and the text in full:
6-Pound Giant Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich
The Internet reacted swiftly, reigniting the age-old debate as to whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich. One camp seems squarely of the opinion that a hot dog, meaty wiener held and eaten in a bread bun, qualifies as a sandwich. The other advocates for the hot dog -- a beautifully compact, best-enjoyed-when-affordably-priced, American institution -- as its own entity, and should exist entirely within its own category. I hereby present to you the arguments.
Here's the Hot Dog Take
Eric Mittenthal, President of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, offered up his opinion on the matter. The Council actually weighed in with an official policy on the controversy in 2015. It's press release at the time stated, in no uncertain terms, that "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."
“Limiting the hot dog’s significance by saying it’s ‘just a sandwich’ category is like calling the Dalai Lama ‘just a guy,’" it announced.
Professional hot dog eater Takeru Kobayashi has also said that hot dogs must exist separately from sandwiches. It's a matter of reverence: "You have to have a lot of respect for hot dogs," he told the Bleacher Report this year. "It’s completely different." His competitive-eating rival Joey Chestnut agrees.
Here's the Sandwich Take
Notable proponents of the Hot-Dog-Is-a-Sandwich camp include the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the Philadelphia Police Force, and members of the Buffalo Bills.
One offshoot of this argument even states that the hot dog is the "true neutral" of sandwich options -- i.e. perhaps the purest sandwich of them all. This graphic spread across the Internet a few months ago:
But here's the Correct Take
This is clearly a much muddier issue than either side's linguistic or culinary preferences would have us believe. I put the quandary to James Chrisman, Thrillist's copy editor, and his response on our line as a publication seemed to split the difference.
"Fundamentally a hot dog is a sandwich," Chrisman wrote to me. "But it should never be referred to as one in copy, per our decency standards."
There you have it.
h/t Washington Post
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