Is a hot dog a sandwich? It’s the question that has divided office cubicles, NFL locker rooms and even the Republican campaign trail. In a special live episode of The Sporkful, we get to hear the definitive debate on the matter.
I’ve waited about 3 weeks to write this review, after going to see this episode’s live taping at The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY. 1 I’ll do my best to focus on the actual episode, but I’d like to say that this was my first live podcast taping, and the experience was incredible. 2
To start the evening off, Walter’s Hot Dogs, which has been serving hot dogs in Westchester, NY for more than 100 years were cooking the best hot dogs I’ve ever consumed. While you probably can’t get Walter’s (sorry), listening to this debate all but requires you to have recently consumed a hot dog to prime you for the experience.
It was the prefect undercard for the main event. John Hodgman 3 v. Pashman. Dan Pashman—of the belief that a hot dog is a sandwich, in case you were somehow not already aware—entered the debate arena armed with copious notes and research. His opponent, John Hodgman, had no resources to leverage other than his own wit, logic and outrageously good mustache game. 4
The tone of this episode was spot on. It was just serious enough to allow for some semblance of structure and attention to the real issue, but the banter between our debaters was the real juicy meat. 5 The best moments did not come from the seriousness of the debate, but from the off-script comments of the hosts.
Just like the Republican debates! *rimshot* Thankfully, Brooke Gladstone, of WNYC’s On The Media fame, served as a much more entertaining—though equally ineffective—moderator.
The heart of the debate includes supporting anecdotes ranging from early 20th Century Baltimore 6 to the Earl of Sandwich himself. Again, the comments are just serious enough to remind you that Dan Pashman has made a job out of this kind of discussion. The man clearly has found his calling.
But, as we seek a definitive and final answer to this debate, I think we need to step back and ask, why do we care? That’s the more compelling question. What does a hot dog mean to us? Even if we decide it may technically be a sandwich, the humble hot dog transcends such a simple label. A hot dog is timeless, intertwined with the history of the modern United States. They remind us of the best of ourselves and our history. Of freedom, baseball games, backyard barbecues and the greatest pound for pound eaters in the world.
But a hot dog is even more than these memories. The hot dog is a legend.
Over the years, many sandwiches have come and gone, and some are even remembered fondly—but hot dogs will never die.
- My story of getting there was an event in and of itself. Some time in the very near future I’m going to provide a write-up of the entire event, as there was more than an hour of content that didn’t make it into this week’s edited episode. One thing that I was disappointed to not hear in the official episode were the brief appearances of emcee Crazy Legs Conti, who is not only a professional eater, but also an incredible host. ^
- Seriously, if you have the chance to go see and hear the recording of one of your favorite podcasts, go do it. ^
- previously of The Daily Show, currently of the Judge John Hodgeman podcast ^
- Feel free to audibly groan. ^
- Omar would not think a hot dog is a sandwich ^
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