And The Wiener Is…

15 Hot Dogs for the Fourth

This Independence Day is certain to be one heavier on tradition than usual. You know — as American as apple pie, mom, hot dogs, blah-blah-blah…. Come on, now, apple pie? Can you say, “Carbohydrate count?” And the less to do with mother, the better. But hot dogs — now there’s something we all can dive into with gusto.

Considering the proliferation of hotdog varieties in recent years, though, it’s nothing less than consternating to push your grocery cart up to the meat case and face dozens of brands, ranging from lean meat substitutes to vegetarian alternatives and everything in between. What better contribution, then, we thought, could Gauge make to preserving freedom than guide you directly to the most wonderful wieners in the world?

So we made a run to the Soviet Safeway and Fresh Fields, brought fifteen brands of hotdogs back to Gauge headquarters and told staff, “No lunch break today, kids, we’re eatin’ in!” Everything got nuked in a microwave according to package directions, each brand was tasted by a panel of five (plus two vegetarians for the meat-free products), and our rating scale was one to five wieners — one being decidedly dreadful and five being pure perfection.


Ball Park Beef, Pork & Turkey Franks

One frank = 180 calories/16g fat/560mg sodium
Scary ingredient: hydrolyzed beef stock
Length: 4 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “You can taste the beef rectum in there.” “Salty.” “Nice texture.” “Did they plump when you cooked them? Shouldn’t there be dents in the microwave now?”
Rating:

Ball Park Fat Free Beef Franks

One frank = 50 calories/0g fat (duh)/470mg sodium
Scary ingredient: sodium nitrite
Length: 4 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever tasted.” “Looks like plastic.” “Too salty.” “Vienna sausages taste better than this.” “Vile chemical taste.”
Rating: [NO WIENERS]

Gwaltney Great Dogs Chicken Franks

One frank = 130 calories/9g fat/760mg sodium
Scary ingredient: 760mg sodium
Length: 4 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “Yuck! That’s foul fowl.” “Bland.” “You can tell that’s dead animal sitting on your tongue.” “A chicken had to die for this?”
Rating:

Hebrew National Beef Franks

One frank = 150 calories/14g fat/470mg sodium
Scary ingredient: The Hand of God
Length: 5 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “Shouldn’t that be 5 and 3/4 inches cut?” “Greasy.” “Hearty flavor.” “Moist.” “Not too salty.” “That’s one holy hotdog.”
Rating:

Hebrew National Reduced Fat Beef Franks

One frank = 120 calories/10g fat/350mg sodium
Scary ingredient: potassium chloride
Length: 5 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “Still greasy.” “Blander.” “Uneven consistency — doesn’t chew well.” “Will I go to hell if I don’t like this one?”
Rating:

Lightlife Meatless Smart Dogs Jumbo

One frank = 80 calories/0g fat/590mg sodium
Scary ingredient: tomato pulp
Length: 5 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “Funny, I don’t feel smarter.” “Why does it have a green tint?” “Smells like the sole of a shoe.” “It’s like cooked Play-Doh.”
Rating: [NO WIENERS]
The vegetarians say: “Tastes okay.” “Bad texture.”
Vegetarians’ rating:

Lightlife Tofu Pups

One frank = 60 calories/2.5g fat/240mg sodium
Scary ingredient: tofu
Length: 4 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “Love that hepatitis glow.” “Needs condiments.” “Nuke a carrot instead.” “I think I’m gonna throw up.”
Rating:
The vegetarians say: “Worse than Smart Dogs.” “Tastes like an eraser.”
Vegetarians’ rating:

Louis Rich Bun-Length Turkey Franks

One frank = 120 calories/10g fat/640mg sodium
Scary ingredient: mechanically separated turkey
Length: 6 and 1/2″
Gut reactions: “Unnaturally thick skin.” “It looks…funny.” “It’s sweet, like leftover honeyroasted ham that’s been in the fridge way too long.” “Fairly nasty.” “Like biting through pleather.”
Rating:

Nathan’s Famous Skinless Beef Franks

One frank = 170 calories/15g fat/470mg sodium
Scary ingredient: hydrolyzed soy
Length: 5″
Gut reactions: “Uh, what’s holding this together?” “Moist.” “Spicy.” “Oily.” “Chews well.” “Not too salty.” “Nice flavor without overwhelming.”
Rating:

Oscar Mayer Jumbo Pork & Turkey Wieners

One frank = 180 calories/17g fat/560mg sodium
Scary ingredient: sodium diacetate
Length: 5″
Gut reactions: “Reassuringly mediocre.” “Salty.” “Buttery aftertaste.” “I no longer wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener.”Rating:

Safeway Jumbo Beef Franks

One frank = 190 calories/16g fat/700mg sodium
Scary ingredient: sodium erythorbate
Length: 4 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “Far too salty.” “Falls apart.” “No texture.” “Slimy.” “I’d say phlegmy.” “Stinging aftertaste.”
Rating:

Safeway Jumbo Chicken and Pork Franks

One frank = 180 calories/17g fat/620mg sodium
Scary ingredient: potassium lactate
Length: 4 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “It’s a new kind of meat — chork!” “Melts in your mouth.” “That’s nasty.” “Like biting into a stick of butter.” “Good for people without teeth.” “They could put these in tubes for astronauts.”
Rating:

Yorkshire Farms Old Fashioned Deli Style Uncured Beef Hotdog

One frank = 160 calories/14g fat/450mg sodium
Scary ingredient: dried honey
Length: 5 and 3/4″
Gut reactions: “Whoa, check out the girth of that thing!” “It’s so big!” “Bitter aftertaste.” “Tastes more like salami or kielbasa.”
Rating:

Yorkshire Farms Uncured Pork & Beef Hotdog

One frank = 110 calories/9g fat/300mg sodium
Scary ingredient: pork and beef raised without antibiotics and growth promoting hormones
Length: 5″ with a slight curvature
Gut reactions: “Mad cow disease, here I come.” “Resembles human flesh.” “Too sausagey.” “Rubbery.” “Chewy casing.” “Hotdog gum, anyone?” “Is this what it’s like to bite into a live pig?”
Rating:

Yves Original Veggie Dogs

One frank = 100 calories/1.5 g fat/480 mg sodium
Scary ingredient: natural liquid smoke
Length: 6″+
Gut reactions: “What’s natural about liquid smoke?” “Are those bits of potato in there?” “I see seaweed!” “More MSG, please.” “Like eating congealed vegetable soup.”
Rating:
The vegetarians say: “Tasty!”
Vegetarians’ rating:

AND THE WIENER — UH, WINNER — IS…

It’s Nathan’s by a hair (not that anything like hair — or hooves, or bones — would ever go into hotdogs), since it was the only frank to earn a five-wiener rating from a panelist. We all concede that even the most vile frank would certainly taste better if it were grilled and loaded with condiments. And beer, we agree, if consumed in generous quantities beforehand, is going to help just about anything taste a-okay. Have a hot dog of a Fourth!

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