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Where Anthony Bourdain Stood On The Hot Dog Sandwich Debate

Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain - Axelle/bauer-griffin/Getty Images

In a now-legendary Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) thread, Anthony Bourdain shared his stance on hot-button issues like hating pumpkin spice, his favorite bourbon, dinner with Obama, and more. To foodies invested in the "is a hot dog a sandwich?" debate, perhaps the most notable moment in the AMA was when Bourdain shared his side.

Short answer: "No." But Tony Bourdain didn't become a sensational, beloved writer for his conciseness. In true sardonic and whip-smart Bourdain fashion, what he really said was, "If you were to talk [to] any vendor of fine hot dogs, and ask for a hot dog sandwich, they would probably report you to the FBI. As they should."

He went on to make the argument that the bread is just the vehicle, and bread alone does not make a sandwich. "I don't think a hamburger is a sandwich either," he noted. "The fact that it's in between bread — the bread is a delivery system, a ballistic delivery system. It is not a classic sandwich." Indeed, Bourdain's definition seems intuitive, but this brand of hot dog-purism can also be limiting on paper. In 2014, Mark Wheeler of the USDA cited the agency's Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book, telling NPR that a hot dog couldn't be a sandwich because "a sandwich is a meat or poultry filling between two slices of bread, a bun or a biscuit." By these terms, hot dogs, PB&Js, and even grilled cheeses don't fit the definition of a sandwich — but a hamburger does.

Read more: The Best Substitutes For Ketchup To Use In Any Dish

Bourdain Championed The Platonic Ideal Of The Hot Dog

Person holding a hot dog
Person holding a hot dog - Domoyega/Getty Images

Whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich might also be a matter of regional jurisdiction. The New York State Tax Department encourages a liberal interpretation of what a sandwich can be: hot or cold, made on all sorts of media including bread, bagels, rolls, pitas, and wraps. It even states that a buttered bagel or roll could be considered a sandwich. But something about that last part feels a little wrong, doesn't it?

Indeed, the hot dog is a heavily regionalized constitution in more ways than just technical definition. In an episode of "Parts Unknown," Bourdain consulted former President Barack Obama on the technicalities of respectable condiments. "I said 'Look, Mr. President, as a Chicagoan, as a true Chicagoan, is it ever acceptable to put ketchup on a hot dog?'" asked Bourdain, per the Chicago Tribune. "And I mean, anybody else, or anyone running for office, would say 'Well, you know to each their own ... He said, 'No. Never.'" Bourdain was himself an outspoken fan of New York City's "dirty water hot dog," but his personal favorite frank was from longstanding NYC pillar Papaya King. Specifically, Bourdain dressed his dogs with onions, mustard, and sauerkraut — hold the ketchup and don't call it a sandwich.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.