the #hotdogmatrix

We've been doing it all wrong for years. The question is not "is a hotdog a sandwich", rather "what is a hotdog". And along with fellow dissertation-writing PhD Candidate Lisardo Bolaños, we have come up with the best way to answer that question, the #hotdogmatrix.

Countless megabytes (even gigabytes) have been used to properly encapsulate a debate as old as meat processing itself:

“Is a hotdog a sandwich?”

But as with many things on the Internet, not only did it not reach a conclusion, but the two sides are even more entrenched in their arguments as to why or why not. I’m not here to waste your time (you can do that on your own, that’s literally what most of you do on the Internet, anyway), so I’ll just cut to the chase (after a brief introduction).

A recent conversation with a colleague, while both of us taking a break from dissertation work, revealed that the debate was too binary, and offered a limited choice definitionally for the hot dog. So we came up with what we believe to be a better way to fundamentally address the underlying concern and thus answer a more crucial question than the one that has been on the idle minds of fellow intellectuals in the pursuit of useless knowledge It’s not whether the hot dog is a sandwich that should interest us, rather the pertinent question should be “what is a hot dog”.

An open-ended question such as that would be ripe for a whole slew of diverse and thorough replies. However, we felt the need to constrain the potential answers within the confines of a matrix that allows for enough flexibility while also maintaining a more rigorous structure. We concluded that three points would be a good number, as a triangle-shaped matrix provides more choice than a simple left-right spectrum, and is also much easier to assess than a square matrix built on a cartesian plane.

The three points are as follows: the obvious choice of sandwich in the lower left, as the original debate revolved around it, a piece of toast with toppings in the upper corner, since there have been arguments that the bun that usually houses the meat is actually just one piece of bread, and a taco in the lower right corner, as the structure of a hot dog is rather similar to a taco. Thus, the #hotdogmatrix:

a triangular matrix where the points are sandwich (lower left), piece of toast with toppings (top) and taco (lower right)

In order to start the conversation, below are two answers. The first is mine, the second is that of my colleague and friend, Lisardo Bolaños, the other person responsible for this novel interpretation of such an age-old question. As you can see, while we differ in our answers, our choices highlight that the original debate had been too constricting to fully express nuanced perspectives.

a triangular matrix where the points are sandwich (lower left), piece of toast with toppings (top) and taco (lower right), with a hot dog image equidistant from the top and lower right and farther away from the lower left
David Morar’s answer



a triangular matrix where the points are sandwich (lower left), piece of toast with toppings (top) and taco (lower right), with a hot dog image equidistant from the top and lower left and farther away from the lower right
Lisardo Bolaños’ answer


We invite you to join the conversation on twitter, by using #hotdogmatrix, saving the original matrix image (available here) and using twitter stickers to point out where you think hot dogs are on the matrix, thus further illuminating the debate of what is a hot dog. I am @morar on twitter, while Lisardo is @Lisardoabf. We will probably be back to working on our dissertations very soon, but we look forward to your answers, your questions and for some reason, your ineludible irrational angry hate-replies.

(The photo in the lower right corner is that of a Guatemalan “mixta”, which is, quite literally, a hot dog in a tortilla. Many thanks to colleague, and friend, Lisardo Bolaños, the co-creator of the #hotdogmatrix for the visual and the conversation that lead to what can only be described as a momentous discovery, while trying not to think about our dissertations for 15 minutes.)

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