Published July 25, 2001
The summer is not even half over and already some of us have eaten enough hot dogs to supply a concession stand. That's Chicago for you, a city that's proud to take hot dogs seriously.
The Good Eating staff does too, having bravely sampled 18 different brands in a blind tasting to find a favorite frank. In the meantime, the quest was on for a frankfurter with just enough snap to the casing to let you know it is there; a juicy but firmly textured filling; and a mild mixture of spice, smoke and salt.
The big winner (and you thought we were going to say "wiener") was Chicago's own Fluky's, praised for its chewy texture and well-seasoned filling. Close on Fluky's heels were Usinger's hot dogs, which stood out for their extra-long size, and Best's franks, with their top-notch flavor. (Both the Fluky's and Usinger's franks were purchased at Treasure Island and may not be available in all area supermarkets.) Third place went to the nationally distributed brand Eckrich, which was faulted by some tasters for a too-soft texture.
Here are the top dogs with notes from tasters, followed by the rest of the pack in order of finish. Products are scored on a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being highest. Prices are based on what we paid for them at the supermarket and may reflect sales or discounts from frequent-shopper cards. Price per-ounce is rounded off to the nearest cent.
And the winners are . . .
2. (tie) Best's Kosher Beef Franks (5.3 points. $3.99 per 12-ounce package; 33 cents per ounce.) "Nice taste; real ballpark flavor." "Firm casing." "Somewhat mushy filling."
3. Usinger's Beef Frankfurters (5.3 points. $4.49 per 12-ounce package; 37 cents per ounce.) "Mildly herbal aroma." "Smooth snap; a good chew." "This is a serious jumbo dog."
4. Eckrich Jumbo Beef Franks (4.8 points. $3.49 per 16-ounce package; 22 cents per ounce.) "Bologna, salty, slight nutmeg flavor." "Very spicy!" "Flabby."
5. (tie) Armour Beef Hot Dogs; Hebrew National Beef Franks (4.6 points) 5. (tie) Dominick's Jumbo Beef Franks; Nathan's Beef Franks (4.1) 6. Scott Petersen Beef Franks (3.8) 7. Ball Park Beef Franks (3.6) 8. Vienna Beef Franks (3.3) 9. Jewel Beef Franks (3) 10. (tie) Farmland Black Angus Jumbo Beef Franks, Oscar Mayer Beef Franks; Safeway Select Beef Franks (2.8) 11. Boar's Head Brand Beef Frankfurters (2.5) 12. Applegate Farms Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dogs (2.3) 13. Hans' All Natural New York Brand Beef Hot Dogs (1.6)
Copyright © 2001, Chicago Tribune