The “Great White Whale” of Hot Dogs Has Finally Arrived

Posted: September 25, 2013 by J. Marcus in A Case of the Munchies, Food
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I’m not a “foodie” in the traditional sense.  I don’t do intense research into the history of foods.  I also don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of traditional food groupings and an innate sense of which flavors should go together and which ones shouldn’t.  What I do know is what I like.  My taste buds are sufficiently attuned to the flavors I know that I am able to detect the subtle nuances of what I like and what I don’t like.

To that end… there was a particular flavor combination that I heard of a while ago.  Something which, on the surface, just sounded SOOO right!  I immediately scoured every supermarket I could find, only to come up empty.  Eventually, I found it at a local Wal-Mart about a month ago.  I purchased it immediately and excitedly.  When I got home, however, it wasn’t in my bags!  It was almost as though the whole thing had been a dream.  It didn’t even appear on the receipt, but I knew I had found it!  Weeks went by and, again, it was nowhere to be found.  Supermarkets had the little tags in the aisle—evidence that the item had once existed there, and yet I still could not find it!

Finally… last week I came face to face with my “great white whale”: Oscar Mayer Bacon Dogs.

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I have to admit… I do like bacon.  I’m not exactly a die-hard fan (I couldn’t tell you the immediate difference between applewood smoked and standard, run-of-the-mill bacon), but I do know the difference between Canadian and regular (of course), and I do know how I like it (not too crispy, not too soft, with a bit of fat).  If you read my previous review of the Burger King Bacon Sundae, you’ll know I do know enough to get by.

IMG_1928The Oscar Mayer Bacon Dogs sound, to me, like they have the potential to be the perfect food.  On the other hand, they could also be a recipe for disaster if not done right.  To that end, I decided for the purposes of my review to give the dogs the very best chance of being their very best.  Instead of cooking them in the microwave or boiling them in water, I made them in such a way as to let them sizzle like bacon!  I cooked them up in a frying pan with some butter.

The first thing you notice about the dogs, even before they hit the pan, is that they are of a darker color than your standard dogs.  This could be a little off-putting, since a hot dog that has been in the fridge too long will kind of have the same color to it.

IMG_1930Once on the pan, they sizzle up nicely.  They are not presented with natural casings, so no worries about them exploding.  Despite this, the dogs are surprisingly juicy.

IMG_1931Usually I eat my dogs one of two ways.  I either put on some beanless Hormel chili, or I slather on some ketchup, mustard and relish.  To give the dogs sufficient room to shine on their own, I decided to try one dog with ketchup alone, and one with mustard (my mustard of choice being of the Jack Daniels horseradish variety).

The first thing you notice about the dog is probably its greatest failing: the smoke flavoring.  On the package it says that smoke flavoring has been added.  This, to me, is a problem.  IMG_1926In this day and age, bacon has almost become synonymous with smoke flavoring.  Almost to the point where if you have just straight smoke flavoring, you are expected to assume there is bacon involved somewhere (as was the case with bacon-flavored chocolate I had the displeasure to try recently).  While a good piece of bacon will be smokey, this is not the entire sum of the bacon experience and, when used on hot dogs, is entirely disingenuous.  After all, you could very easily get some smoke flavoring on your dog by actually cooking it on a grill (which in the summertime, is actually rather common).  Artificial smoke flavoring in a hot dog just seems a bit strange.

IMG_1932The texture of the inside of the dog itself is probably it’s second weakness, although somewhat more forgivable given the cooking method I used.  The inside of the dog was a bit soft and the texture a bit spongy.  Given that it is a hot dog, you can’t expect much here, though you could imagine that the higher fat content from the bacon meat might be a contributing factor.  The question you have to ask is, “What do you expect going into this?”  You could assume, since they are (by their own admission) pre-cooked, that you would get a hot dog with slivers of bacon inside.  Instead, what you get is bacon-meat ground into the turkey, chicken and pork already in the mix.  And since there already is pork in the mix, just what exactly is it adding to the mix that the bacon can’t already take care of?

Once you get past the smoke flavoring and the texture, the taste of the dog does in fact evoke hints of bacon, which is it’s greatest asset.  An overpowering bacon taste could ruin the experience, but the flavor is well integrated with the other meats, making a newer taste sensation.  And this is why I had to choose my condiments carefully.  The bacon flavor was just subtle enough that if you put too much stuff on your dog, you could very well bury the bacon.  The mustard complimented the bacon flavor nicely, while the ketchup might prove to be a bit too sweet for the smokier nature of these dogs.  I will be curious to see, in the future, what relish adds to the mix.

IMG_1929The biggest question you’re left with, at the end of the experience, is… “Was it really worth the effort?”  The answer, in a nutshell, is… no.  God, how I wish this wasn’t the case.  I wish I could be doing cartwheels down the aisle, proclaiming my undying love of these bacon dogs.  Alas, I can only say that they were good.  Not great, not stupendous but, mercifully, not terrible.  They were okay.  IMG_1924As with the BK Bacon Sundae, what this is missing is a truly pure bacon element.  I suppose that if I wanted something that didn’t taste so processed, I should not have gone to Oscar Mayer.  On the other hand, Nathan’s has Angus dogs which are equally unimpressive so who could do this justice?

What I do miss from Hormel were the Frank-N-Stuffs of my youth—hot dogs that were stuffed with chili.  I can’t imagine what the nutritional content of those bad boys were, but I have a feeling that if I found them today, I’d be much happier with that “great white” than I was with this selection.

I do recommend the Oscar Mayer Bacon Dogs, if just to say that you had the experience.  They won’t make a convert out of you, but you won’t be sorry you tried them.

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