Only In The United States Of America Is It Necessary To Legally Define A Hot Dog

While there are some cities whose denizens will shoot you quite the stinkeye for misidentifying their tubed meats — a Polish sausage is not the same as bratwurst, people — most of us probably know our hot dogs. But despite Americans’ collective familiarity with the city street corner staples, California is taking things a step further with legislation that seeks to come up with a legal definition for “hot dog.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, though we’ve been chomping on hot dogs in their various iterations since at least 1870, now is the time to legally define the tubular victuals.

Hot-dog cart owners could face closures by health inspectors without the definition, prompting the Assembly Health Committee to attempt to come to the rescue.

The proposed change to state health laws lays it out: ” ‘Hot dog’ means a whole, cured, cooked sausage that is skinless or stuffed in a casing that may be known as a frankfurter, frank, furter, wiener, red hot, Vienna, bologna, garlic bologna or knockwurst and that may be served in a bun or roll.”

(I’m not sure my German ancestors would be okay with lumping together so many wursts, but then again, I’m not the one selling hot dogs, am I?)

With a definition in place, health departments can separate how they treat hot-dog vendors compared to food stands that cook raw foods. Hot dogs are already cooked before they hit the stands’ hot water, and as such, require less stringent sanitation standards.

Defining such a ubiquitous food actually serves a purpose for consumers, too, as it’s important to know exactly what you’re eating. 

 “When Californians buy hot dogs, they want to know what they are getting, sometimes with mustard,” said committee Chairman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).

Legislators’ ‘hot dog’ definition would aid street vendors [Los Angeles Times]