20 Experts Weigh in on the “Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich?” Debate

The jury is most definitely still out

Updated July 3, 2021 11:00 am
Two steaming hot dogs
A still life with two steaming hot dogs with a jar of mustard, 1980.
Tom Kelley/Getty

In addition to being a scholar of the English language who’s contributed to multiple dictionaries and launched his own massive online etymological dictionary, Barry Popik is a hot dog expert.

As such, he feels, quite frankly, that the hot dog is sandwich. Case closed. 

“There is no doubt in my mind that a hot dog is a sandwich. It is meat between bread. It is similar to the ‘sausage sandwich’ that is served at street fairs,” he told First We Feast. “In the 1880s and 1890s and 1990s, the names ‘sausage sandwich’ and ‘hot dog sandwich’ were common. ‘Sandwich’ got dropped, but it’s still a sandwich — the same as it always has been.”

Popik is entitled to his opinion, but, as you’ve undoubtedly found out when discussing the topic at your office, home or local, it’s not one that’s shared by everyone (not by a foot-long shot).

To help provide a bit more clarity on the topic, we’ve compiled a collection that really cuts the mustard of where various foodies, celebrities, sports stars and even the actual dictionary draw the line.

We hope you’ll relish the opportunity to peruse it.

Anthony Bourdain: Not a sandwich
“No. I don’t think it’s a sandwich. I don’t think a hamburger is a sandwich either. The fact that it’s in between bread–the bread is a delivery system, a ballistic delivery system. It is not a classic sandwich, in my view. I mean, if you were to talk into any vendor of fine hot dogs, and ask for a hot dog sandwich, they would probably report you to the FBI. As they should.”

Meryl Streep: TBD
“Is a hot dog a sandwich? Well with a bun, yes. Without a bun, no. It’s a canapé.”

Kogi chef Roy Choi: Not a sandwich

“Technically, it’s a sandwich because it’s something stuck between two pieces of bread. But just because it makes sense on paper doesn’t mean that’s what it is in life. So I don’t think a hot dog is a sandwich. A hot dog is a hot dog. You’ve got to give respect to the hotdog. That’s really what it boils down to. It’s such a unique, individual form of thing that we’ve created as humans. I think it just deserves its own category. I don’t even think a hamburger is a sandwich. A hamburger is a hamburger.”

Apollo 13 astronaut: Sandwich
“Just a passing comment, Joe. We’re having lunch right now and I just made myself a hot dog sandwich with catsup. Very tasty and almost unheard of in the old days.”

Shake Shack executive chef John Karangis: Not a sandwich

“It’s much argued about and if someone wants to call a sandwich, I’m not going to argue with them. But I will say that I grew up eating hot dogs at baseball games and I never thought of them as sandwiches. Some will say that anything between bread is a sandwich. I love to celebrate the hot dog being in its own category, like the burger. We love hot dogs. We sell an awful lot of hot dogs. Anyone can call it what they like, but if I had my choice, I’d put it in its own category.”

Matt Damon: Not a sandwich
“I’ve never considered a hot dog a sandwich because a hot dog is a hot dog. I mean technically it comes between 2 pieces of bread or one fold it into two, so I guess you can classify it as a sandwich. Then what would you call it, a hot dog sandwich? That’s like a hat on a hat so let’s just keep it as a hot dog.”

Keegan-Michael Key: Not a sandwich

Justin Trudeau: Sandwich
“Yes. That way, when asked what you had for lunch, you can say ‘a sandwich.’. Sounds waaaay healthier.”

Joey Chestnut: Not a sandwich
“You start considering a hot dog a sandwich, and you’re like ‘oh, because there’s carbs around it,’ then you have to start, kinda, is a gyro a sandwich? ‘Cause that’s kinda like … no. You have to keep division … It’s #NationalHotDogDay as President, I want it to be known the Hot Dog stands free and independent from the tyranny of the sandwich.”

RELATED: 19 Pro Athletes and Sports Personalities Settle the “Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich?” Debate

Porter Road meat expert James Peisker: Not a sandwich

“That’s a deep question. We just got super philosophical here. I don’t think a hot dog is a sandwich because it’s not two pieces of bread. It’s just one piece. To me, a burger would be a sandwich because it’s bread, meat and cheese with stuff in the middle. But I think a hot dog wouldn’t be a sandwich because it’s a singular piece of bread. It is more like a wrap. Nope, not a sandwich.”

Angels outfielder Mike Trout: Sandwich
“Yeah, I think it’s a sandwich. Because it has a bun.”

Carly Fiorina: Not a sandwich
“Yeah, see I agree, a hot dog is a unique thing. A hot dog is not a sandwich. I know it’s the all American food, but I just don’t like them.”

Merriam-Webster: Sandwich
“We know: the idea that a hot dog is a sandwich is heresy to some of you. But given that the definition of sandwich is ‘two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between,’ there is no sensible way around it. If you want a meatball sandwich on a split roll to be a kind of sandwich, then you have to accept that a hot dog is also a kind of sandwich.”

Oscar Mayer head of marketing Gregory Guidotti: Sandwich
“This is a longstanding debate. Most people say it isn’t. But the dictionary defines a hotdog as a sandwich consisting of a frankfurter in a split roll. I was an English major as an undergrad, so I’m taking the contrarian view that it is a sandwich, because it really aggravates people in the office here. It creates that good argument. People post videos and stuff on Instagram or Facebook about this. We have a T-shirt and a hat with ‘It’s a sandwich’ or ‘It’s not a sandwich,’ depending on the sentiment, and we reply to consumers on social to tell them we love they are talking about this. Marketing has become so much of a one-to-one relationship at scale on social media.”

Jimmy Kimmel: Not a sandwich

“If hot dogs are sandwiches, then cereal is soup. If you went in a restaurant and ordered a meat tube sandwich, would that make sense? No! They’d probably call the cops on you.”

Texans defensive end JJ Watt: Not a sandwich
“No. It’s a hot dog.”

Aaron Paul: Not a sandwich
“Is a hot dog a sandwich?! Of course not! What are you talking about? A hot dog is a hot dog, and god I love hot dogs. What are hot dogs made out of though? That’s the question. You know when they say ‘all beef’ hot dogs? And you’re like, ‘Oh, well, it’s not steak…what does that mean, ‘all beef’ hot dogs?” he said. “I mean… I know there’s a line in Breaking Bad: ‘pig lips and assh-le’ and I think that’s what it’s made of, pig lips and assh-le. But…literally butt. But no, hot dogs are not a sandwich.”

Alton Brown: Sandwich
“Yes, a hotdog is a sandwich. True story.”

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom: Not a sandwich
“I would say no. I’ve never said ‘I want a hot dog sandwich.’ I just say I want a hot dog. If you want to get a turkey sandwich you say ‘I want to get a turkey sandwich.’ I think that’s why.

President Obama: N/A … but has a strong hot dog take regarding ketchup
“No. I mean that … that’s one of those things like, well, let me put it this way, it’s not acceptable past the age of 8.”


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