There are two types of spectacles you can expect to encounter this Fourth of July: the light show that paints the sky with red, white, and blue sparkles, or the proverbial fireworks that are bound to arise from a seemingly simple question
Is a hot dog a sandwich?
The answer to whether an encased tube between a bun constitutes a sandwich has threatened relationships, inspired philosophical inquiry, and ignited the ire of athletes, comedians, musicians, and politicians alike, who've taken to Twitter to rep their set. Peering back into the question's murky history, one of the first references we came across was around 2007, when Washington Times sports writer Patrick Hruby answered the question using the dictionary to “prove” that a hot dog is a sandwich. The question flared up again in a meaningful way in 2014 when Jeb Lund wrote a thinkpiece for the Guardian—the day before Independence Day, no less—on the nature of the debate: what constitutes a sandwich, and what the question means. Gawker responded, agreeing with him that the hot dog is a sandwich. Author John Hodgman chimed in later that July to assert that the hot dog is a separate entity on its own (i.e., not a sandwich).
The debate has a knack for popping back up at seemingly random times, churning the wheels of the outrage cycle once again. It came back in full force when Atlanta Falcons reporter Andrew Hirsh tweeted that Matt Ryan did not think the hot dog was a sandwich, causing sports reporters to interrogate NFL players over their stance on the issue. It came back again this past Memorial Day weekend when Merriam-Webster ruined the celebration by tweeting that the hot dog was a sandwich, spinning the Internet back into the black hole that is the hot-dog debate.
Though New York State Law and the USDA officially categorize the hot dog as a sandwich for tax purposes, their definition doesn't necessarily align with public perception. The people of America have spoken: In a poll by Public Policy Polling, 60 percent of Americans said that the hot dog does not qualify as a sandwich. In fact, despite the fights during this presidential election, this may be one of the only things that Democrats (57%) and Republicans (60%) agree on. Even the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council stated that the hot dog is a separate entity than the sandwich, though it may have some bias in the matter.
With everyone from Ludacris to Justin Trudeau weighing in, the responses range from thoughtful musings, to outright screaming. To make sense of it all, here is a comprehensive guide to the hot dog–sandwich debate.