Defining the dog: California Legislature takes up meaty issue

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Photo by rob_rob2001/ Flickr/ Creative Commons

When it comes to hot dogs, many subscribe to the theory that the less one knows the better the meal.

But the California Legislature is going under the skin, as it were, to define what makes a dog a dog. So why in the name of Pinks is the Legislature concerning itself with the intricacies of pre-cooked meat? The reason for the wiener winnowing has to do with hot dog street vendors around the state who have been coming under fire from local health inspectors.

Some lawmakers want to allow those vendors to operate without being held to the same strict standards as food stands that cook raw foods. To do that, they’ve had to delimit the dog.

Merriam-Webster defines a hot dog as a frankfurter heated and served in a long, split roll. The California Assembly doesn’t disagree with that, but it goes a little further. Here’s the working definition of hot dog circulating in the state Capitol: “A whole, cured, cooked sausage that is skinless or stuffed in a casing that may be known as a frankfurter, frank, wiener, red hot, Vienna, bologna, garlic bologna or knockwurst, and that may be served in a bun or a roll.”

In a rare display of bi-partisanship, the Assembly unanimously approved the new hot dog definition. The bill now moves on to the Senate’s …er…plate.