Hey Paul Giamatti, is a hot dog a sandwich?

Illustration for article titled Hey Paul Giamatti, is a hot dog a sandwich?
Photo: Mark Mainz (Getty Images), Graphic: Natalie Peeples
Is A Hot Dog A Sandwich?Is A Hot Dog A Sandwich?Welcome to Is A Hot Dog A Sandwich? in which The Takeout asks famous and important people to answer the most important question to ever beguile the human race.

A thing you learn when you repeatedly ask famous people whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich is that some of them aren’t particularly interested in that question.


Paul Giamatti has an Emmy, two Golden Globes, four Screen Actors Guild awards, an Independent Spirit award, a Television Critics Association award, and, to use a technical term, a fuckton of citations from critics organizations around the world. He’s also an Oscar nominee (for Cinderella Man) and belongs to that most exclusive of clubs: actors who are so good in critically acclaimed movies (in this case, Sideways) that you just assume they were nominated even though they actually weren’t (see also: David Oyelowo, Selma; Uma Thurman, Kill Bill).

He’s done O’Neill (The Iceman Cometh), Chekhov (The Three Sisters), and Stoppard (Arcadia) on Broadway. He was Harvey Pekar and John Adams. He’s a dominant force on Billions and is executive producing the quietly compelling new AMC gem Lodge 49.

He answered politely, but boy oh boy, Paul Giamatti did not give even one tiny shit about this question. And that’s fair. He’s Paul Fucking Giamatti.

Lodge 49 is pretty great, but even if it weren’t, we’d still tune in and watch, because we sort of feel like we owe him that much.

The Takeout: Is a hot dog sandwich?

Paul Giamatti: No.

TO: Definitely not a sandwich.  

PG: I don’t think so.

TO: Why is it not a sandwich?

PG: Bread. It’s not two pieces of bread with meat in between. It’s one piece of bread.

TO: With meat tucked inside?

PG: Yeah. A sandwich is two pieces of bread with something in between. It’s not a sandwich. Thanks.


Thus ends the conversation. Before he finishes turning away, he has already forgotten it ever happened.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!


1. There is no reasonable definition of “sandwich” that excludes hot dogs but includes everything we traditionally refer to as a “sandwich” (such as Philly cheesesteak sandwiches). BUT:

2. Nobody would refer to a hot dog as “a sandwich.” They would call it “a hot dog.”

Therefore, the following statement resolves the debate once and for all: A hot dog is a type of sandwich, but it is incorrect to refer to it as a “sandwich” instead of as “a hot dog.”