Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls

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TnGuy
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2016/05/31 15:36:00 (permalink)

Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls

Hotdog test review (2016) - All Beef Hot Dogs
 
Hotdog roll test review (2007) - Hot Dog Buns
 
 
TnGuy
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    irisarbor
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/05/31 17:22:38 (permalink)
    Unfortunately you can't read the results unless you subscribe....
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    JRPfeff
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/05/31 21:34:51 (permalink)
    Elaine,

    The ratings are not in the magazine. WTH?

    jrp
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    TnGuy
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/06/01 12:38:24 (permalink)
    irisarbor
    Unfortunately you can't read the results unless you subscribe....

     
    HOW WE TESTED
     
    From the “hot water” sausages of Coney Island to the pineapple-topped “puka dogs” of Kauai, you can find a hot dog in nearly every corner of America. While how you dress your dog varies with regional custom (like your hot dogs with ketchup? Don’t show your face in Chicago), the sausages themselves remain relatively constant across all 50 states—a mixture of meat trimmings, water, salt, and seasonings is stuffed into casings (sometimes natural but usually made from cellulose) and then smoked and cooked. Cellulose casings are stripped off after cooking, so most supermarket hot dogs are skinless.
    Traditional frankfurters—the kind originally brought over by European immigrants in the mid-1800s—are primarily pork-based and can still be found in supermarkets nationwide. But nearly every hot dog manufacturer we talked to told us that all-beef hot dogs now vastly outsell traditional frankfurters because of their punchier meatiness and more straightforward ingredient list. (Pork frankfurters today are often bulked up with added poultry or soy.) With the goal of finding the best supermarket all-beef hot dogs, we cooked up the seven top-selling national varieties of skinless dogs for 21 America’s Test Kitchen staffers. To keep everything consistent, we locked away the condiments and served the hot dogs two ways: first boiled and bunless and then grilled and stuffed into buns.
    Tasters immediately took issue with thin or skimpy dogs that practically disappeared when we nestled them into standard buns. Almost half the samples were deemed too petite by tasters, so we broke out a scale and calipers to measure the dogs. Top dogs were up to 12 percent plumper than lower-ranked ones, allowing for a higher meat-to-bun ratio in each bite. Our favorite hot dogs were also almost 20 percent heavier than low-scoring products—51 grams per dog versus 41 grams.
    But bigger wasn’t always better, as some larger dogs had texture issues. Two products were downgraded for their off-putting textures: one was too dry, the other too wet and squishy. The ideal hot dog has a bouncy, snappy texture and a moderate moisture level; from our prior investigating in other sausage stories, we know that this ideal texture is achieved, in part, by a proper balance of fat and protein. So we scrutinized the ingredient labels and compared fat and protein levels. Though they all contained similar amounts of protein, the dog that tasters deemed dry was far too lean, with less than half the fat of our winner—about 7 grams of fat compared with 15 grams of fat in our top-ranked product. We preferred dogs with more fat, which were tender and juicy with just the right amount of bounce and snap.
    But what about the wet, squishy dog? While it had fat and protein levels similar to the top-ranked products, it contained twice as many carbohydrates as any of the other samples. While most manufacturers bulk up their hot dogs with added corn or corn syrup for a smoother texture and a sweeter flavor, our science editor explained that this product likely used too much—as evidenced by the high carbohydrate levels—making for a mushy and wet dog.
    As for flavor, too much corn or corn syrup also had a big impact. Hot dogs that listed corn products as primary ingredients tended to be too sweet, while our favorites either contained no corn products or reported adding “2% or less” on ingredient lists. Spice was also important: While manufacturers wouldn’t tell us exactly what spices they used, tasters docked lower-ranked products for flavors that seemed out of place. Strong notes of celery salt, paprika, cabbage, or warm spices were no-gos; we preferred dogs with prominent smoky, beefy flavor and strong saltiness. Our favorite hot dogs contained the most sodium of any product—550 milligrams versus as little as 292 milligrams per dog in other samples—and tasters thought these dogs had the punchiest flavor.
    In the end, Nathan’s Famous Skinless Beef Franks earned the top spot for their robust, meaty flavor and juicy, tender texture. These large, beefy dogs had a substantial heft and a bold, meaty flavor that held its own in a bun. We’ll be keeping Nathan’s on hand for summer barbecues and easy weeknight dinners.
    METHODOLOGY:
    Twenty-one America’s Test Kitchen staffers sampled seven top-selling nationally available all-beef hot dogs, first boiled and served plain and then grilled and stuffed into hot dog buns. Sales data was obtained from IRI, an independent Chicago-based research firm. Weights, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, and ingredients were all taken from nutritional labels and, where applicable, recalculated to a standard 50-gram serving size to aid in comparing them. Size measurements were taken using calipers.



     
    All-Beef Hot Dogs
    WINNER RECOMMENDED
    Nathan's Famous Skinless Beef Franks 
    This product emerged as top dog for its “supersmoky” meatiness and “juicy,” “snappy” texture. Tasters thought these “plump” hot dogs were the “perfect size” and gave a “nice contrast to the bun.” “This is my ideal dog,” said one happy taster.
     
    RECOMMENDED
    Kayem Skinless Beef Hot Dogs 
    Another “big and substantial” dog, this “juicy” sausage was “meaty” and “tender,” with “just the right amount of smoke.” Tasters thought the “mild,” “subtle” spice blend used in this product was “classic” and “familiar.”
     
     
    RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS
     
    Bar-S Premium Beef Franks 
    These dogs were plenty “meaty” and “juicy,” with a “firm” texture, though a few tasters noted a “sour” aftertaste. While these dogs were slightly too “small” for some tasters, most agreed that they had a “salty” kick and a “hint of smoke” that stood up against the bun.
     
    Hebrew National Beef Franks 
    Tasters liked the “intensely savory” beefiness and “springy” texture of these dogs, but most thought these “slim,” “skinny” sausages weren’t big enough for a standard bun. Still, many praised this product for its “juicy” tenderness and “slightly spicy” flavor.
     
    Oscar Mayer Classic Beef Franks 
    These “very skinny” sausages were among the smallest in our lineup, and while tasters liked their “smoky” meatiness, most thought they got “lost in the bun.” Some also thought these dogs, which list corn syrup as their third ingredient, were a little too sweet.
     
     
    NOT RECOMMENDED
     
    Ball Park Beef Franks 
    “Mush mush mush!” said one taster, complaining about these “spongy,” “flabby” sausages, which were likened to “school cafeteria hot dogs.” The few tasters that could get past the “creepy soft” texture found these dogs dominated by a “sweet,” “bologna-y” flavor.
     
    Applegate The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog 
    Tasters came up with a hodgepodge of descriptions for the “odd,” “tart” flavors in this hot dog, from “cabbage” and “broccoli” to “sea water” and “low tide.” “I have never had a hot dog with this taste,” remarked one unhappy taster. Equally unimpressive was this dog’s “crumbly,” “mealy” texture, which left a “cottony” dryness in tasters’ mouths.
     
     
     
    post edited by TnGuy - 2016/06/01 12:41:15
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    TnGuy
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/06/01 12:40:44 (permalink)
    HOW WE TESTED
     
    Our test kitchen is fiercely loyal to our favorite brand of hot dogs (see our related tasting), but hot dog buns fail to inspire the same passion. After all, the bun is just a vehicle for the dog and condiments, right? Is there really any discernable difference between popular brands of bun? We sampled three national brands to find out. Turns out, none of them thrilled tasters, who were instructed to taste the buns alone and also with hot dogs and condiments.
    Our favorite received merely average scores. Some tasters liked the bun’s crusty exterior, sturdiness, and nice “yeasty” taste—one taster declared it a “good dog vehicle.” On the other hand, many found the bun dense and lacking in flavor. Almost all tasters thought the bun was too big and bulky, with the wrong bread to dog ratio. Tasters gave mediocre scores to the runner-up, which most found too light, squishy, and doughy. Tasters rejected their “processed” taste but thought the buns stood up to the condiments well. The third fared the worst—almost all tasters were put off by their “gummy” texture and lack of structure—they fell apart easily under the weight of the dog and became soggy quickly when condiments were applied.

    SPLIT-TOP VERSUS SIDE-SLICED?

     
    Here in New England, we’re accustomed to finding top-sliced hot dog buns at our supermarkets, as opposed to the side-sliced buns available elsewhere in the country. Does the placement of the bun slice really make a difference? It turns out it does. We instructed tasters to fill each type of bun with a hot dog, load it up with their favorite condiments, and eat it. In the top-sliced buns, the bread was evenly distributed on each side of the dog, and it held the hot dog and condiments securely. On the other hand, the side-sliced buns had almost twice the amount of bread on top as on the bottom, making for awkward, unbalanced bites and a risk of condiments leaking out through the cut side of the bun. Our recommendation—look for split-top buns, preferably those made by our winning brand.
     
    Hot Dog Buns
    WINNER RECOMMENDED
    • Pepperidge Farm Hot Dog Buns
    •  These buns turned out to be tasters’ favorite but received merely average scores. Some tasters liked the bun’s crusty exterior, sturdiness, and nice “yeasty” taste—one taster declared it a “good dog vehicle.” On the other hand, many found the bun dense and lacking in flavor. Almost all tasters thought the bun was too big and bulky, with the wrong bread to dog ratio.
       
       
      RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS
       
      Sunbeam Hot Dog Buns
    •  Most testers found the buns too light, squishy, and doughy. Tasters rejected their “processed” taste but thought the buns stood up to the condiments well.
       
       
      NOT RECOMMENDED
       
      Wonder Hot Dog Buns
    •  Wonder hot dog buns fared the worst—almost all tasters were put off by their “gummy” texture and lack of structure—they fell apart easily under the weight of the dog and became soggy quickly when condiments were applied.



    post edited by TnGuy - 2016/06/01 12:42:47
    #5
    JRPfeff
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/06/01 12:44:24 (permalink)
    Thanks for posting the text TriGuy.

    I'm surprised at the low quality products included in this test. Usually CI will include at least some exceptional products in their tests to contrast with the junk.
    #6
    MilwFoodlovers
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/06/20 16:20:24 (permalink)
    JRPfeff
    Thanks for posting the text TriGuy.

    I'm surprised at the low quality products included in this test. Usually CI will include at least some exceptional products in their tests to contrast with the junk.

    I think they miss their founder.
    #7
    irisarbor
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/06/20 16:28:16 (permalink)
    Thanks for posting the results for those of us who are not subscribers. 
    I am surprised at the omission of Vienna Beef, which is such an outstanding product IMHO. 
    Concur with a lot of the other opinions. 
     
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    hatteras04
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/06/21 08:56:05 (permalink)
    I tried the applegate ones on Memorial day as I couldn't believe I found a beef hot dog with only 70 calories each.  I was so excited as this was going to be my first hot dog in many many months.  I took one bite.  It was awful.  The comment above about never having a hot dog wit this taste is exactly what my reaction was.  So disappointing.  
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    TJ Jackson
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/06/21 19:15:19 (permalink)
    andddddddddddddd........we're back
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    ann peeples
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    Re: Cook's Illustrated tests Hot Dogs and Rolls 2016/06/21 19:25:10 (permalink)
    Apple gate hot dogs are awful.......
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