Hot Dogs Are Classic Takeout, Street Food & Ballgame Snacks – But Are They Sandwiches?

By Spencer Reynolds

Few iconic takeout items can match the enduring popularity of the humble hot dog. Found at street vendors, carts, and concession stands, this handheld delight has been a go-to choice for hungry folks for over a century. But behind all that deliciousness and nostalgia, there’s an ongoing debate about the hot dog: is it a sandwich?

Before we get into that, let’s start at the beginning. The hot dog as we know it can be traced back to Germany. When German immigrants brought their culinary traditions to North America in the 19th century, they brought the Frankfurter sausage with them. The Frankfurter, a seasoned sausage made from pork or beef, is what eventually evolved into the hot dog we know today. It was later affectionately nicknamed a “wiener” in America. Over time, this sausage-on-a-bun combo became known as a hot dog.

Being portable, customizable, and easy to eat standing up or on the go, the hot dog quickly found a home in the fast-paced lifestyle of North Americans. As cities grew, hot dog carts and stands emerged on street corners, providing workers and passersby with a quick and satisfying bite. These street vendors became an essential part of urban culture, earning the moniker “street meat” for their delectable, accessible offerings. They’re still on many street corners today. In fact, in most north american downtown cores, you’re never more than a few blocks from a hot dog.

Baseball and hot dogs go together like mustard and ketchup. Those iconic toppings, in part pioneered by French’s, have become the go-to choices or hot dogs in North America.  French’s was first introduced to the hot dog – and the public – at the World’s Fair in 1904. It was love at first bite. Through the years, French’s has become a Canadian staple from the ballpark to the backyard to the holiday table.

Hot Dog Season

As we approach the peak of summer, it’s officially hot dog season. July is hot dog month!  Whether you’re strolling through the city or enjoying a ballgame, get yourself a hot dog and partake in some nostalgia.

Consider ordering a classic hot dog from a street meat vendor or even a 7-11. If you’re feeling adventurous, specialty hot dog restaurants have become increasingly popular in recent years, elevating the humble hot dog to gourmet heights. In the USA, Nathan’s Famous has developed a cult-like following for its iconic dogs, even taking on the title of official hot dog of major league baseball!

Here in Canada, Fancy Franks is just one example of the many eateries where you can go beyond mustard to relish exciting and surprising toppings and combinations. For those seeking a taste of history, Skinners in Lockport, Manitoba, is a must-visit hot dog hot spot.

Established in 1929, this legendary hot dog vendor has been serving up delicious dogs for nearly a century. Stepping foot into Skinners is like taking a trip back in time, immersing yourself in the nostalgia of a bygone era.

To Sandwich, Or Not To Sandwich?

Now, let’s address the burning question: Is a hot dog a sandwich? The answer to this age-old debate lies in the bun. By definition, a sandwich consists of two or more slices of bread with filling in between. So while a hot dog is handheld, it’s clear to us that the bun doesn’t pass mustard — it’s a single piece, not two separate slices. Our verdict is that while a hot dog may resemble a sandwich, it occupies a category all its own

Sandwich or not, the hot dog has earned its place in the takeout hall of fame. This July is hot dog month, so take the opportunity and treat yourself to a hot dog of your choosing. With so many varieties and endless topping combos, you can make it your own — be it street meat, a gourmet dog, or a traditional Bratwurst.