RE: Thumanns or schickhaus
Schickhaus is a quarter pound natural casing German style beef and pork dog made specifically for the New Jersey market under a private label agreement. There used to be a Schickhaus company in either Kearny or Harrison, N.J. It closed years back and Schickhaus coldcuts and franks were made by other companies. Grote & Weigel of Conn. made them for awhile, then lost the contract to Russer. Grote & Weigel started making them again about 5 years ago, and as of last year Armour Eckrich started producing Schickhaus products. It looks and tastes the same to me. A quality frank, one of the best. I do prefer Thumanns. Their griller comes in a natural casing 6 to a lb size. You can get a quarter pound dog, but it is skinless.
Thumanns also makes an all beef dog and a special dog for deep frying that Rutt's Hut and others use. Thumanns is as high quality as you can get. Both their meats and franks. Thumanns franks are made from choice cuts of beef and pork, not trimmings like most hot dogs. The pork comes right off of their hams. I've been to their factory in Carstadt and it is remarkably clean. They have machines that measure and adjust fat content that cost millions of dollars. Excellent quality control. Just yesterday I spoke to a woman who works for Thumanns. She was handing out samples of their meats at a local supermarket. She also worked for Boars Head, which makes quality meats and franks as well. She told me that the quality control and the overall product is much better at Thumanns. Everything is made at one location. Boars Head has moved their operation from the New York area to down south and has other companies making some of their meats. This person told me that she would get complaints from delis and supermarkets occasionally regarding Boars Head, but never from Thumanns. Interesting. Also their roast beef (Thumanns) is marinated for 10 days. Hardly anyone does this anymore.
Thumanns also spends very little on advertising, preferring to spend their money producing top notch products. Boars Head spends a lot on advertising, and I'm told, cuts corners. Their casing on the franks is very tough, and a cheaper casing than what they used years ago. Some like the tougher casing. I still think Boars Head makes one of the 5 or so best all beef dogs.
One other difference between Thumanns and most other hot dog producers is that Thumanns does not employ a technique called vacuum chopping where the meat is cut and air is sucked out making a more tightly packed product. Since Thumanns doesn't do this, they have a more loosely packed frank which lends itself to faster cooking. That is why this dog tastes better in my opinion prepared on a griddle rather than a backyard grill. Most smaller producers like butcher shops also don't use vacuum chopping. That's why their franks are tender as well.