Why Did Merriam-Webster Ruin Memorial Day Weekend By Calling The Hot Dog A Sandwich?


This year’s Memorial Day Weekend was shaping up to be a really nice one. Our playlist for 2016 is out, the next episode of Game of Thrones drops late Sunday night, and just about everyone gets to sleep in because most places are closed for business on Monday. Sounds fantastic, right? You’re damn right it does. Or, at least it did until the official Twitter account for the Merriam-Webster Dictionary decided to spoil everyone’s day with the lame due-after-the-holiday homework assignment that is the following assessment: Hot dogs are sandwiches.

Here’s the offending post:

In what’s proving to be a successful attempt at virality, the would-be wordsmiths tagged the tweet and its linked-to blog post with the popular hashtag #MemorialDayWeekend. The result? A cavalcade of internet vomit emboldened by GIFs, short videos and 140 characters of pure, trollerific vitriol. Most of the reactions, catalogued below, probably didn’t bother to read the attached listicle. If they had, however, their opinions probably wouldn’t have changed all that much. They probably would’ve been much, much worse.

That’s because Merriam-Webster defined the hot dog as “a frankfurter heated and served in a long split roll” that, when “served in the roll,” is “also a sandwich.” This raises the question, then, of “What is a sandwich?” Merriam-Webster knew this would come up, so they preemptively defined the latter as “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between” or “one slice of bread covered with food.” This is where people are splitting hairs (that hopefully aren’t on their hot dogs), because when the hell has a sandwich ever been a single slice of bread with crap on it?

Never, that’s when. One can call it an “open sandwich,” which is an actual term listed in dictionaries and featured in recipe guides, but the concept’s proper execution in a linguistic form requires the use of the adjective “open.” Otherwise, it’s just a piece of bread with food on it.

If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because the issue exploded last November when video of an argument about hot dogs and sandwiches in the Buffalo Bills locker room went viral. The internet raged about the issue for days. Hell, even the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council — an actual arm of the North American Meat Institute — issued an official decree on the matter. Their verdict? According to NHDSC President and “Queen of Wien” Janet Riley, “Limiting the hot dog’s significance by saying it’s ‘just a sandwich’ is like calling the Dalai Lama ‘just a guy.’ Perhaps at one time its importance could be limited by forcing it into a larger sandwich category (no disrespect to the Reuben and others), but that time has passed.”

In other words, no — hot dogs are not sandwiches.

Cue all those Twitter reactions mentioned above.

(Via Merriam-Webster and Twitter)