Friday, March 24, 2017

Hot Dog Hot Spot: Burger King (really)

In yet another foray into the land of commercial wiener vending, I brave a trip to Burger King to test their grilled hot dog. The franchise made big waves in the world of hot dogs last year when they added wieners to their burger-heavy menu. It sort of made sense, after all, both are items you would grill in your backyard. Still, early reviews were not promising. But, I wanted to give the chain a fair shake, so after finishing my virtual baseball tour, and with my trusty dog in tow, I headed for the drive-thru of my local Burger King.

Let's begin with what they do right. The dogs are served in a cardboard coffin like you would receive your dog in at Yankee Stadium. These containers ensure that your hot dog arrives intact and helps with a smooth transition from the drive-thru window to the interior of your car. My dog was salivating so the aroma must be least to canines.

Upon opening the box I nearly screamed. Ketchup. They put ketchup on their hot dog. No one over the age of twelve should be able to put ketchup on a hot dog and keep a clear conscience. If you do this, and are an adult, please stop eating hot dogs right now; your are desecrating what Americans hold dear.

Burger King does put their franks on a fresh bun, and the meat is split down the middle to ensure an even grill throughout. The condiments added automatically includes relish, mustard, onions and of course the silly ketchup. Then I bit in and savored the taste while my drooling pet watched.

The verdict. Not a great dog...but not a terrible one either. I'd give it a solid five on a scale of ten. I wasn't expecting much, but at least it was warm, fresh and didn't taste like llama ass. Additionally, it was kind of small and cost over two bucks after tax. My recommendation would be if you want a hot dog, seek out a local hot dog cart. If you want a fast food burger then Burger King is a decent option. Hot dogs, are not, and will never be, their forte. When you have burger in your business name, stick to what you do best and leave the hot dogs for the experts. My dog on the other hand, gives it five stars and was ready for her own.

Now that I have momentarily worshipped the false idol of a burger chain drive-thru hot dog, I am born again and back to hitting real hot dog hot spots. The next time I am at Burger King, I am getting fries. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hot Dog Hot Spot: COSTCO

I finally got around to it. After several years of running around the country rating hot dogs, I finally sampled the vaunted COSTCO hot dog. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of people who, after finding out I was the hot dog guy, asked if I had tried the dog at the bulk buyer's mecca.

I am not a COSTCO member, so I never had an opportunity. Plus, I rarely buy in bulk so a membership would not be in my best interest. I thought about just asking if I could buy a dog in their cafeteria, surely a man with my wiener wherewithal could open that door. But, I never got around to it. COSTCO it seemed, would always be there so why rush it.

Suddenly, just like the arrival of the deadline for filing income tax, it was upon me: an opportunity to gain access to a COSTCO and grab a dog. I was tagging along for some shopping and a stop at the giant wholesaler was in the schedule. While my companions snapped up deals, I saddled up to the cafeteria counter and ordered what everyone had been raving about: the COSTCO hot dog meal. It is a quarter pound dog on a bun. You also get an empty cup to fill at the fountain drink dispenser. The hot dog condiments (mustard, relish and onions) are in the seating area. All of this for the awesome price of $1.50.

It is a hefty dog, I will give them that. Add a generous portion of all three condiments and you got a pretty big dog there. I was ready to bite in and experience the nirvana that so many before me had enjoyed.

Apparently, COSTCO used to use Hebrew National franks for their dogs. Now, they use their own brand called Kirkland. Being a Hebrew National fanboy, I had high expectations for a frank that could displace my beloved HN all-beef meat torpedo. The texture of the dog was firm and tasted decent. Slightly salty, as a hot dog should be. The bun was fresh, the condiments acceptable. Although, I do think COSTCO made a mistake replacing the HN frank.

All in all, eating the COSTCO hot dog was sort of like the first time I had sex: I was expecting so much more, and it was over in a few minutes. At least I remember the hot dog's name.

Now that I have been to the hot dog holy land and returned, I can say that the whole COSTCO hot dog experience was...meh. A decent dog. What I think gets everyone excited is the deal. This is a big dog (I could only eat about 80% of it), and a drink for a buck and a half. That is a steal. If you are looking for a cheap lunch that involves a hot dog, it doesn't bet much better than that.

I am glad I finally checked that off of my hot dog bucket list. Given another opportunity, and if I was trapped inside of COSTCO while others shopped and was hungry, I'd do it again. But I won't be applying for membership any time soon.