Which hot dog is best?

Summer is rapidly approaching. This means grilling outdoors and eating lots of my second favorite food in the world:

The hot dog.

On one of our earliest dates, Elysha and I went somewhere for hot dogs, and I discovered that Elysha and I had something monumental in common:

We don't like any condiments on our hot dogs. Plain is preferred. 

I remember thinking, "This is it. We were went to be."

I wasn't wrong. 

Last year The New York Times conducted a hot dog taste test, pitting 10 popular brands against one another for hot dog superiority.

I had issues with this article and their taste test in general. Specifically, they did not conduct a blind taste test. Judges knew what they were eating. How can anyone expect to be objective when they know the brand?


I also had a beef with some of the results. For example, the two winners:

WELLSHIRE FARMS PREMIUM ALL-NATURAL UNCURED BEEF FRANKS, $7.99 FOR 8 “Smoky, herby — is this fancy?” was Melissa’s immediate response. We all loved its levels of garlic and spice.

I've never tried this particular brand of hot dog, but I have to be honest:

I've never wished for a "garlic and spice" flavor on my hot dog. It sounds awful. I'll make a point of trying one this summer, but this sounds like a hot dog that's trying to be something it's not.   

HEBREW NATIONAL KOSHER BEEF FRANKS, $6.29 FOR 7 “Classic,” Sam declared. “The people’s hot dog.”

This may be true, Sam, but it's not an actual assessment of the taste of the hot dog. Instead, it's evidence that you are not engaged in a blind taste test, and that cultural expectation and previous personal preferences have strongly influenced your perception of the hot dog. 

Sam's assessment is also incorrect. 

I like Hebrew National, too, but both Nathan's Famous Skinless Beef Franks and Oscar Mayer's Classic Wieners outsell Hebrew National by a wide margin, and neither is nearly as expensive.

Not exactly "the people's hot dog."  

The New York Times was taste-testing the kind of hot dog that you grill in the backyard, which is fine, but this also left off two of my favorite hot dogs:

The free hot dogs given out at the fire station after the Fourth of July parade in Monterey, MA, where my in-laws live.

There's something about a parade and a free hot dog that can't be beat.

The 7-11 hot dog, much maligned by people who have never tasted one themselves yet insist on mocking, disparaging, and dismissing these hot dogs because it is beyond their mental capacity to imagine that anything cooked in a convenience store could taste good.

This is a failure of imagination. An inability to see beyond their pre-ordained bubble. An unfortunate and regrettable degree of pretentiousness. A heinous prejudice against something they do not know or understand.

If you've tried a 7-11 hot dog and not enjoyed it, that's fine. Odd but fine. But to simply assume it's not good (and outwardly disparage it) is stupid.

For me, the 7-11 hot dog is tasty, convenient, and always there for me.

It's also a hot dog. My second favorite food. It's hard to screw up.