Our View | A staff divided

In final editorial of semester, The Rocket staff argues over composition of hot dog

Published by The Rocket, Date: April 29, 2022

Our View is a staff editorial produced collaboratively by the entire Rocket Staff. Any views expressed in the editorial are the opinions of the entire staff. 

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One side always has stronger and better arguments than the other. People can choose to stay neutral, or people can be extremely definitive in the side they align themselves with. Can we come to a decision today, or will it remain on the list of the world’s unanswerable questions? Is a hot dog a sandwich?

The age-old issue of whether a hot dog is a sandwich has divided the nation for years on end. Or, at least just The Rocket staff.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of a sandwich is “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between.” By this definition, a hot dog is a sandwich.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture agrees with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, describing it to be “a meat or poultry filling between two slices of bread, a bun, or a biscuit.”

But what exactly is classified as meat? Where do you draw the line?

Technically, a hot dog is typically made up of the emulsified meat trimmings of chicken, beef, or pork, according to The Humane League. But if there’s meat in a hot dog, wouldn’t that make it a sandwich?

For Ballpark and Nathan’s hot dogs, the main ingredient is beef, while Oscar Mayer’s hot dogs mainly consist of turkey, chicken, and pork. The ingredients in popular hot dog brands vary, but one thing is clear: The main ingredients are still meat.

Sometimes it just comes down to if the two pieces of bread are connected. If the bread is connected, then it’s a hoagie or some other category. But if it is two separate pieces of bread, then it’s a sandwich.

A sub, or a hoagie, got its name because it’s assembled on a longer bread that resembles a submarine. Most consider a sub to be a sandwich. But could a hot dog technically be considered a hoagie, then?

We can’t get off-topic, though. We are not here today to talk about hoagies.

In the grocery store, bread for sandwiches is typically sold as “sandwich bread,” or just bread. But for hot dogs and burgers, it’s “hot dog buns” and “hamburger buns.” Is this the deciding factor?

The hot dog debate is so polarizing, in fact, that The Atlantic created their own theory of the sandwich in 2014, in which they broke down what exactly it takes to qualify as a sandwich.

For The Atlantic, the sandwich index consists of four major points:

  1. To qualify as “a sandwich,” a given food product must, structurally, consist of two exterior pieces that are either separate or mostly separate;

2. Those pieces must be primarily carbohydrate-based—so, made of bread or bread-like products;

3. The whole assemblage must have a primarily horizontal orientation (so, sitting flush with a plate rather than perpendicular to it); and

4. The whole assemblage must be fundamentally portable.

The Washington, D.C.-based newspaper decided in 2015 that a hot dog is not a sandwich. But who’s to say that the conclusion is right or wrong?

When you search Google for the public’s thoughts, the first result from Wide Open Eats says only 33% of Americans surveyed think a hot dog is a sandwich. As you go down the line of results, though, the opinions seem mixed.

The singular vegetarian on The Rocket staff said she has never had a hot dog, so she doesn’t really care about its classification.

And, truly, we don’t either.


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