There are few things that signify the start of summer like the smell of hot dogs grilling in the backyard. Americans hold hot dogs near and dear to their hearts, up there with the likes of apple pie and cheeseburgers. From classic New York-style dogs, dressed with mustard and sauerkraut, to ones that are "dragged through the garden" with minced raw onion, neon green relish, sport peppers, pickle spears, tomatoes, yellow mustard, and celery salt in Chicago.
Given the nationwide popularity of hot dogs, it's no surprise that so many food companies produce their own varieties. Some brands are so well known for their dogs that they've become iconic — such as Oscar Mayer. Others are known for dabbling in other areas, but still manufacture enough hot dogs to garner national recognition, like Boar's Head.
|Nathan’s Famous Beef Frank||78.3%|
|Oscar Mayer Classic Beef Franks||76%|
|Sabrett Skinless Beef Frankfurters||74%|
|Trader Joe’s All Natural Uncured All Beef Hot Dogs||73.7%|
|Applegate Farms: The Super Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog||73.5%|
|Ball Park Beef Franks||70.3%|
|Hebrew National Beef Franks||69%|
|Boar’s Head Beef Frankfurters||68.8%|
To that end, six TDM editors blind-tasted eight brand-name hot dogs readily available in most grocery stores (plus the in-house brands from Trader Joe's). All of the dogs are all-beef, so there was a level of consistency for the taste-test. From the nostalgic classics like Nathan's Famous to the natural and organic dogs from Applegate Farms, each editor made notes based on each hot dog's texture, taste, mouthfeel, smell, and appearance. Was the hot dog too salty? Did the casing snap when you bit into it? Did it taste overly processed?
The editors had many strong opinions and ultimately, there were no runaway favorites. In fact, all of the hot dogs scored between 79 and 69 percent on average. Check out the slideshow for the panel's commentary and full details about each brand's score.
Think the panel misjudged your favorite hot dog brand? Leave a comment below with your tasting notes.
Research contributed by Chrissy Harris