What Makes Cleveland's Polish Boy Sandwich Unique?

There is a great debate on whether a hot dog can be classified as a sandwich, but in Cleveland the answer is simple — a hot dog is most definitely a sandwich. In fact, the hot dog -based sammie known as the Polish Boy is actually revered as the city's unofficial sandwich. But what is it and what makes it so unique?

Like most tasty things in food-based pop culture, the origin story of the Polish Boy is hard to trace, but Matador Network reports that it's usually attributed to the Texan Virgil Whitmore of Whitmore's Bar-B-Q, who was inspired to use local ingredients to invent a new sandwich, even if many vendors were also crafting the deliciously dressed dogs alongside him. 

Given that a good sandwich should comply with certain criteria like having a good bun, assortment of ingredients, an abundance of condiments, and lastly, wise layering (via Serious Eats), how exactly does Cleveland's Polish Boy compare?

Hints of Polish cuisine and variety of texture all in hot dog form

A hot dog with the works, Thrillist explains that the Polish Boy is made with a grilled kielbasa link tucked into a bun and topped with crispy french fries, zesty vinegar coleslaw, and a healthy glug of barbecue sauce. While it might have once been the term used to order any kielbasa on a bun, the name has come to represent a specific sandwich in the Cleveland foodscape.

As for what makes it Polish, the sandwich displays hints of Polish cuisine — just look at its main component, kielbasa. With Polish origins, MasterClass notes that kielbasa is a (typically) pork sausage with a creamier texture and more garlicky flavor when compared to standard sausages. Likewise, the sandwich also is loaded with a hefty mound of cabbage coleslaw, cabbage being an ingredient used in Polish dishes like cabbage rolls, stews, and pierogies. 

While the infusion of Polish ingredients is one thing that makes these sandwiches unique, there's another thing that makes these smothered sammies one-of-a-kind and that's texture. Something that can take a sandwich to the next level, Bon Appétit explains that building a sandwich with contrasting textures like creamy ingredients alongside crisp ingredients will keep each bite interesting, which can be quite true of a Polish Boy. Not to mention that the balance of sweet, zesty, and meaty flavors also make it a knockout. Is your mouth watering, too?