Padma Lakshmi Has The Answer To The Age-Old Hot Dog Sandwich Debate

It's the one food controversy that just won't die – is a hot dog a sandwich? According to Merriam-Webster, a sandwich is "two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between." In New York, arguably the hot dog capital of America, the law says yes, as does California. Being legally classified as sandwiches in two of the country's largest states, home to some of the most famous restaurants in the world, should settle the debate, yes?

Well, no. Chef Carla Hall is adamantly against the idea that hot dogs are sandwiches. Meanwhile, Alex Guarnaschelli says yes, a hot dog is in fact a sandwich. Alton Brown seemingly decided to bypass the entire sandwich classification when he said back in 2018 that a hot dog was a taco, but as recently as a couple of years ago, he seems to have come around to Guarnaschelli's point of view. The most recent culinary celebrity to weigh in on this pressing question is Padma Lakshmi, who was asked her opinion in a recent appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." So does she think a hot dog is a sandwich?

Padma Lakshmi says yes, a hot dog is a sandwich

"I mean it's a poor excuse for a sandwich, but it's a sandwich," Padma Lakshmi responded when asked to settle the controversy once and for all. Anything between bread is a sandwich Lakshmi reasoned. Therefore a hot dog is a sandwich. Technically, a hot dog falls into the basic definition of a sandwich, but Lakshmi's response earned groans from the audience. "The crowd turned on you," Jimmy Fallon laughed. 

Lakshmi and Fallon also tasted their way through various hot dogs, discussed the best ways to cook them (Lakshmi is team grilled), and how as a child growing up in a vegetarian household, going to the hot dog carts in New York City was a real treat. "My mom and I were vegetarian, but we'd always salivate watching all these people get hot dogs," she said. She and her mom started to ask the vendors for a bun with all the toppings, minus the actual hot dog. Sauerkraut, relish, ketchup, everything.

"It's good!" Lakshmi insisted to the audience's laughter and Fallon's skeptical looks. Today, Lakshmi is no longer purely vegetarian, and given her status as host of "Top Chef" and cookbook author, she is certainly more than qualified to weigh in on the whole hot-dog-as-sandwich controversy. While she seems less than enthused about the idea, according to Lakshmi, a hot dog is a sandwich. Whether or not that settles the argument remains to be seen.