Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich?

Throughout history, humankind has been challenged by a number of age-old questions. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there a God? But no question is as trivial, as controversial, or as provoking as to whether a hot dog should be classified as a sandwich.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a sandwich as: “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between.” On the surface, it seems that Merriam-Webster would consider hot dogs to be sandwiches, as they are classically served as a grilled cylindrical piece of pork or beef served hot in the warm embrace of the roll of your choosing. But if one further analyzes the situation, there is a very legitimate case to say that a hot dog is not merely a sandwich, but rather its own separate entity. In order to delve deeper into this paramount question, I went through the halls of Georgetown Day School to seek the opinions of the students and staff at GDS.

Known for his all-school emails and tendency to hang above the forum alongside the math classroom railing, freshman Adam Mendelson had a hot take on the topic. The self-proclaimed “Elf on the Shelf” argues that “generally a sandwich just has something on the top and on the bottom, except that hot dogs have something on the side.” An interesting take on the topic, Mendelson seems to believe that due to the excess bread to meat ratio, a hot dog would not “meat” the narrow definition of a sandwich.

Sophomore Daniel Velvel furthered Mendelson’s claim by introducing patriotism into his argument. “It’s in its own classification…A hot dog is a hot dog man, it’s just an American thing.”

On the other hand, an overwhelming number of Georgetown Day students seemed to believe that a hot dog is indeed a sandwich. A man who claims to “know his weiner,” sophomore Nicholas Howe, when pressed on the issue, stated that “yes, a hot dog is a sandwich. A sandwich between two buns.” Howe interprets the definition of a sandwich very literally when applying it to the hot dog case. Sophomore Sabrina Baheri was in agreement with Howe, but under much looser terms. In Baheri’s mind, a sandwich is “anything in dough.” A much looser definition of a sandwich, Baheri continued to apply this definition to other American classics, claiming that pizza should also be considered a sandwich. After nearly an hour of passionate interviews in the forum, I was still no closer to reaching a consensus on this issue, so I decided to go to one of the most powerful people in the entire high school campus to get a viewpoint from the top.

Student dean, critical thinker, and sausage aficionado, Bobby Asher put in a beautiful last word on the issue. While Bobby seemed quick to understand those arguing that a hot dog is a sandwich, Asher claims to think of a hot dog as “more than just a sandwich, but rather as an experience.” A captivating point of view from a captivating kind of guy. Asher pointed out that there’s a reason that “Kobayashi, [a professional hot dog eater], is one of his heroes.” He thinks there is a reason that over 35,000 people line up to watch the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every year. There’s a reason why the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest generated nearly a billion online and live views in 2016. In the words of Asher, “it’s not a standard meat product but rather something special.”

By Teddy Bhatia ’20

Sign up for our weekly newsletter!Current GDS high school students and teachers receive the newsletter automatically.