The State of New York defines a hot dog as a sandwich. They say that “Sandwiches include cold and hot sandwiches of every kind that are prepared and ready to be eaten, whether made on bread, on bagels, on rolls, in pitas, in wraps, or otherwise, and regardless of the filling or number of layers. A sandwich can be as simple as a buttered bagel or roll, or as elaborate as a six-foot, toasted submarine sandwich.”
However, several people disagree when this is said at face value. Therefore, I set out on a mission to find the universal definition of a sandwich through interviews and carefully collected data.
The question “Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich?” invariably leads to a collection of groans, laughs, and certain comments about my personality, but eventually a heated discussion arises. The most prominent argument that I encounter in which people refuse to classify a hot dog as a sandwich is that a hot dog is eaten vertically. To this is the counter that a sub sandwich, when turned vertically, is still a sandwich.
Generally when met with this response, most people concede to the point that a sandwich is not determined by its orientation, and that if a hot dog were not a sandwich it would not be because it is vertical. However, with the acceptance of vertically oriented foods in the sandwich world comes a new question: Is a taco a sandwich?
I haven’t talked to a single person who agrees that a taco is a sandwich. The one argument that stood out in the sea of ‘sandwiches must have bread’ is the idea that a sandwich is determined by the region that it comes from. A taco is not a sandwich since it comes from South and Central America.
The next step in my journey to solve this age-old question is to ask the definition of a sandwich. Many definitions of sandwiches including the definition released by the New York State Department raise several other questions. If a sandwich is simply items contained between two pieces of bread, what about ice cream sandwiches? How does one define bread? If bread can only be made with wheat, how about gluten free bread sandwiches?
With all of these questions being raised and with my interactions with several people, I came to my own definition of what a sandwich was. It is not universal, but it is good enough. A sandwich is some amount material of contained between a bread-like substance. It can be cold or hot and elaborate or simple. Under this definition, a hot dog is a sandwich, a taco is not a sandwich, and an ice cream sandwich is a sandwich as cookies are a bread-like material.
But the truth is that sandwiches are subjective. To create an objective definition of a sandwich is to limit the mind and the creativity in the human essence. There are, of course, legal reasons to create this definition, but now, the question of “Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich?” has even more repercussions. Sandwiches are the epitome of human creativity. There is simultaneously no end to what can be a sandwich and the strictest regulations possible. A sandwich is a sandwich to the extent that one can dream.