I’ll confess. For most of my life, I was not a hot dog fan. I thought them to be nothing more than skinny tubes of bologna, one of my least favorite things. I realize I’m sounding awfully un-American. (I don’t like baseball, either, so might as well bring on the folks from immigration.)
When, on the rare occasion, I found myself faced with eating a hot dog, I’d bury it beneath mustard and kraut. To the point that I couldn’t taste the dog. Only then was it palatable to me.
I’m all about condiments and, a few years ago, I noticed that some gas station mini marts started sprucing up their prepared food sections. The rolling hot dogs came with condiment choices that went way beyond those little packets of yellow mustard that you had to rip open with your teeth. Some of these places had veritable buffets of condiments ranging from chipotle mayo to spicy brown mustard and sliced pickled jalapenos. Big squeeze bottles filled with savory flavors and bold colors. I was mesmerized by the choices. The loaded dog became my go-to quickie road trip food.
Honestly, I don’t know if those hot dogs were good or not because they simply provided a vehicle for the add-ons. So, whatever flavor the chicken or turkey or beef or pork dogs might have had, it couldn’t possibly make its way through the tangled web of pickled peppers, chipotle goo, various mustards and the occasional smattering of relish.
My brief affair with the gas station hot dog halted abruptly when I realized that each one, before the condiment avalanche, packed about a whole day’s worth of fat. Throw in the preservatives, nitrites, MSG, artificial colors and flavors, the pork moles, beef cheeks and, well, it was easy for me to let the dog go. It was relegated to a quickie fling. Didn’t mean a thing.
But, not long ago, I was browsing the hot dog section of the grocery store and wondered if there was maybe a healthy alternative that wasn’t made of tofu, egg whites or soy protein, and that’s when I noticed Applegate Super Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog.
No antibiotics, no fillers and made of beef raised only on a vegetarian grain diet. They’re low in calories, fat and cholesterol. Too good to be true? I had to know, so I picked up a package, not sure what to expect. I promptly embarked on a hot dog tasting binge, and enlisted help. My results follow.
That may look like chopped raw onion on my hot dog, but it would mean that someone else has taken over my body. I’m a kraut dog girl.
Applegate Super Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog, $5.99 for 8 hot dogs, 12 ounces, at most Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and major supermarkets.
First look: Each hot dog contains 70 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2 of which are saturated, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 330 milligrams sodium, 6 protein grams and no sugars or carbs.
The hot dogs are free of gluten and casein (a milk protein that triggers allergic reactions in some people).
Ingredients are few: beef, water and less than 2 percent of sea salt, paprika, dehydrated onion, spices, nutmeg oil and celery powder. That’s it. Bet there’s not a word in the ingredient list that you can’t pronounce. (It’s pap-reek-a. Only three syllables.)
Applegate wants to make sure that its customers know the cows that gave their lives for the hot dogs lived well, albeit not long. On the package you’ll read that the beef was “raised on sustainable family farms in a stress-free environment that promotes natural behavior and socialization.” I would hope for no less.
As with any hot dog, Applegate uncured hot dogs can be boiled, heated in a skillet, impaled on a stick and roasted over a camp fire or, my favorite method – grilled until they pucker and get slightly charred.
Good news: I don’t care if the pampered bovine is raised in Trump Tower and spoon fed organic granola by The Donald if it doesn’t turn out a great tasting dog.
No need to worry.
Applegate hot dogs are packed with beefy flavor that easily reaches through any condiment that I can throw down. The texture is perfect, with a slight pop that gets you through the skin and into the meat. Everyone who tasted them at my request loves these hot dogs.
Don’t think of these as a good low-fat hot dog; consider them a terrific tasting hot dog — period.
Bad news: Look, pampered beef doesn’t come cheap. So, sure, Applegate hot dogs cost more than most traditional brands.
Last words: Applegate Super Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog is no baloney.