Make us your home page

Taste Test: Hot dogs mark column's 10th anniversary

Plain hot dog on a bun.

Plain hot dog on a bun.

A decade ago, our panelists tried seven brands of beef franks to help consumers wade through the sea of options for grilling hot dogs that Fourth of July. This year, to mark our 10th anniversary, judges revisited the grocery store refrigerators and found 11 hot dog varieties to try. Whether our taste buds have changed or the quality of the dogs has improved, the loser 10 years ago (Publix) received the highest score this time around. Similarly, the winning dogs from our previous tasting (Nathan's) didn't make the cut in our recent sampling. We prepared all of the dogs on a stovetop grill and sampled them sans buns or condiments.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Publix 81Bar-S 54Applegate Natural 49

In 2004, judges described the Publix hot dogs as skinny, wimpy and limp. This time, they said the store brand dogs had a deep, smoky flavor with a nice rind and good texture. Not one complained about the size, shape or firmness. "It tastes exactly like a good, grilled dog should taste," said one judge. Others said the hot dogs had just the right amount of salt. "I would love to grill one of these on a stick while I'm hiking in Alaska this summer," said a self-proclaimed hot dog expert on our panel.We apparently didn't find these dogs on our initial tasting, but judges were impressed with the nice, beefy coloring as well as the meaty taste. "These definitely hold up well on the grill," said one taster. Another liked the firmness of the hot dog, saying it wouldn't fall apart in a bun and would hold up nicely under condiments or a large ladle of chili. "Actually, for a hot dog, this tastes almost healthy," said another judge.The juiciness of these hot dogs gave them an edge over some of the competition. Judges really liked the hearty texture, the smoked flavor and the plumpness of the links. "These would be great dogs to be sliced and cooked with real baked beans," said one panelist. "They would hold up great to a bun, onions and mustard."

they buy?
All four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.

Shopping information$3.48 for a 4-ounce container from Publix.$8.44 for a 12-ounce container from the Fresh Market.$6.19 for a 6-ounce container from Publix.

Also Sampled: Oscar Mayer ($3.78 for a 16-ounce pack from Walmart, 29 points); Ball Park ($2.98 for a 15-ounce pack from Walmart, 39 points); Sabrett ($3.98 for a 14-ounce pack from Walmart, 12 points); Gwaltney ($1.28 for a 3-pound pack from Walmart, 24 points); Nathan's ($3.98 for a 14-ounce pack from Walmart, 42 points); Kayem ($4.99 for a 14-ounce pack from Publix, 30 points); Winn-Dixie ($5.29 for a 16-ounce pack, 28 points); Organic Prairie ($6.99 for a 12-ounce pack from the Fresh Market, 28 points).

Panelists: Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; aesthetician Jim Yockey; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design; and Wayne Conery, manager of the R Bar in Treasure Island. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to [email protected] Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeOne frankOne linkOne dog
Fat/Fiber16g / 0g16g / 0g6g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 540mg1g / 600mg0g / 330mg
Carbs/Protein2g / 7g2g / 6g0g / 6g

Taste Test: Hot dogs mark column's 10th anniversary 06/23/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 23, 2014 11:49am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours