Did you know there’s a National Hot Dog and Sausage Council? Did you know it’s not intended to be a joke, that it’s a division of the trade group North American Meat Institute, and that they’ve been around for a quarter century?
Did you also know that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council is as consumed with the “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” debate as we are—but whereas we maintain journalistic objectivity, the NHDSC has firmly decreed that no, a hot dog is not a sandwich?
But the biggest revelation to us is that the media contact for the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council is a man named Eric Mittenthal—he also happens to be the organization’s president—and because his cell phone number is listed on the organization’s website, he’s receiving calls every single day from people specifically to ask him whether a hot dog is a sandwich? (Again: The NHDSC has already asserted its position.)
This poor guy. I called Mittenthal, not to ask that question he receives daily, but to see how he deals with it.
The Takeout: Every day you’re getting a call from someone asking whether a hot dog is a sandwich?
Eric Mittenthal: Between social media outreach, e-mails, and phone calls, I average one a day. I got a call yesterday while my daughter was in swim class. They come all hours of the day and night, more often than not, from kids in schools or frat boys. They’ll call me and say, “my friends are having this debate...” It’s gotten to the point that I answer the phone and if I hear laughing in the background, I immediately know what they’re going to ask.
It’s fun when I tell people I’m president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Less so when someone calls me at 2 a.m. There are times when I’m doing something with my family, I can tell if it’s a random number, it’s probably someone calling me to ask if a hot dog is a sandwich.
TO: The council has asserted that no, a hot dog is not a sandwich. Can you briefly explain that position?
EM: What do you call it if it’s on a bun? It’s a hot dog, right? What do you call it if it’s not on a bun? It’s still a hot dog.
TO: What are some of the wackier arguments you’ve heard on the opposing side, those who argue it is a sandwich?
EM: They would bring up Subway. This was back when Subway used to open their bread on top (as opposed to slit open from the side). But, Subway doesn’t serve hot dogs. And that takes away their point.
TO: When did the calls start?
EM: It started as a question in NFL locker rooms, but then it blew up on social media starting around the fall of 2015. And now I’m asked about it daily, almost four years. I’ve gotten more than a thousand calls about whether a hot dog is a sandwich.
TO: Oh my god.
Coming Monday: An exclusive interview with a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate about... you guessed it.