Calif. Legally Defines 'Hot Dog' To distinguish them from not-yet-cooked sausages By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Jun 18, 2013 9:54 AM CDT 31 comments Comments (Shutterstock) (Newser) – What is a hot dog, really? You may not know—which is probably a good thing—but in California, at least, the encased meat may soon have a legal definition, the Los Angeles Times reports: "'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." Why did the Assembly Health Committee go to the trouble of defining the term? For the sake of hot dog vendors. Since they're hawking already-cooked meat (all they have to do is boil the dogs), they want to be held to less-strict sanitation standards than vendors who actually cook raw meat like bratwurst. The committee proposed the above change to state health law, and the bill passed the Assembly unanimously and is now in the state Senate.