Every once in awhile, with a regularity that is both astounding and reassuring, Americans will gather together to raise their voices, lock their eyes, and engage in a passionate, high-stakes debate about one of the grand questions of our time. Is a hot dog a sandwich?
You really can argue it both ways, which is of course what gives the debate so much, er, meat. On the one hand, hot dogs, structurally, hew to that most sandwichy of arrangements: They are processed protein, surrounded by processed carbohydrate. On the other hand, though, hot dogs are cylindrical, rather than sandwichily prismatic, in shape. And vertical, rather than horizontal, in orientation. Oh, and there’s the broad fact that we don’t call them sandwiches, which might suggest that the matter, ongoing debates notwithstanding, has already been settled.
Except, of course: It hasn’t been. Maybe it will never be. The latest reminder of all this frankfurterian fighting came this week, and from that most American of institutions: the NFL. A sports journalist, chatting with the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor, asked Taylor the nitrate-loaded question: “Is a hot dog a sandwich…?”
And then, as it always will, taxonomic chaos ensued.
It was anarchy, basically. And it made newly clear what has been obvious for a long time now: In the name of unity and harmony and the American experiment, we really should end this beef. Or this pork, or this mechanically separated turkey, or whatever else. (Sorry, that joke was the wurst.)