Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco County schools' taste testers pick a wiener

LAND O'LAKES — The turkey dog taste test turned out terrific.

So say the kids at Pine View Elementary School, who sampled the substitute sausages Wednesday on a trial run before the school district replaced beef franks countywide.

"To me, they were delicious," said fifth-grader Mitsy Audate as she picked at her chicken salad in the school cafeteria Thursday. "I had two. … If we could have thirds, I would be in line."

Fourth-grader Breana Barnes deemed the new dogs superior to the old ones, too.

"I loved them," she said. "The other ones didn't have much flavor, and these had more flavor. And they were bigger."

The students didn't know the replacements were turkey instead of beef, and they didn't care.

"What's the difference, anyway?" remarked fourth-grader Steven Collins between sips of chocolate milk. "They weren't all brown and they tasted better than the old ones."

Only fifth-grader Chelsea Melendez disagreed in random interviews with hot dog eaters.

"They tasted fake," she pronounced.

The overwhelmingly positive response is good news for the district's food and nutrition services department, which had a lot — $25,000, to be exact — riding on the outcome of the blind taste test.

The feedback justified the department's decision to stop buying the beef hot dogs and instead use the turkey franks in all 72 district schools. It's a savings of 13 cents per hot dog at the elementary level, and 20 cents when trading one jumbo beef dog for two turkey dogs at the secondary level.

When you consider that Pasco students chomp through more than 192,000 hot dogs a year, that's a big bite out of the budget at a time when every penny counts.

Food and nutrition services director Rick Kurtz said he has to eliminate jobs and cut back employee work hours, too, as costs of everything from bread to delivery truck fuel rises. He had planned for expenses to go up about 7 percent, but the increase is nearly double that.

So Kurtz welcomed the chance to save money on hot dogs. He expected a full switch to the turkey franks, which he called "a highly satisfactory product" after eating one, by the middle of next week.

That's just fine with the Pine View kids, who were surprised and honored to have been chosen as the district's hot dog testers.

"I think it's pretty awesome," said fifth-grader Erica Valdes. "It makes me feel special."

Special enough to offer some other recommendations, too.

Although the turkey franks were great, fifth-grader Hailey Westbrook said, the buns need to go. They fall apart.

And please, the students said, replace the macaroni and cheese.

"Get the Kraft," Mitsy suggested, with all at the table nodding rapidly in agreement.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

Pasco County schools' taste testers pick a wiener 03/06/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 7, 2008 2:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Cavern' closes westbound lanes on E Fletcher Avenue in Hillsborough County


    Westbound lanes of E Fletcher Avenue are closed near the Hillsborough River to repair what the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office terms a "cavern" that formed under the roadway.

  2. Joss Whedon's ex-wife accuses him of cheating, being 'hypocrite preaching feminist ideals'


    Joss Whedon made his name directing cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and big-budget action movies, which often featured women in empowering roles. Many applauded him for being a champion of women, a feminist in an industry accused of misogyny and sexism.

    Joss Whedon at the screening of "Much Ado About Nothing" in 2014. Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole alleged in an essay published by The Wrap on Sunday that Whedon had multiple affairs during their 16-year marriage. (Associated Press)
  3. Pasco school's parents, principal seek compromise on behavior plan


    Leaders of a Pasco County elementary school that has come under criticism for its new behavior plan have offered an alternative model that sticks to its goals while also better considering younger children who might not understand the original terminology.

    This is the original chart that upset parents with wording such as "anarchy" and "conform to peer pressure" without any context.
  4. Jon Gruden, Rex Ryan meet with Jameis Winston on 'Hard Knocks'


    One of the interesting guest stars on HBO's "Hard Knocks", which covers every minute of the Bucs' training camp and preseason, has been Jon Gruden. The legendary former Tampa Bay coach has popped up from time …

    In a teaser clip from episode 3 of "Hard Knocks", Jon Gruden and fellow former coach Rex Ryan meet with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to discuss his past and future in the NFL. [HBO/NFL FILMS]
  5. German police seize thousands of 'Trump' ecstasy tablets


    BERLIN — German police say they have seized thousands of tablets of the party drug ecstasy in the shape of Donald Trump's head, a haul with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900.)

    This undated  picture provided by Polizeiinspektion Osnabrueck police shows an ecstasy pill. German police say they have seized thousands of ecstasy pills in the shape of President Donald Trump's head, a haul  with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900). Police in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany, say they found the drugs during a check Saturday evening on an Austrian-registered car on the A30 highway. [Police Osnabrueck via AP]