Mighty Meaty

Most everyone likes a good weiner.

Like any good sausage story, the “hot dog” has its roots in Germany, where wienerwursts or frankfurters were all the rage.

Brought to America by German-American immigrants, it was later developed into “red hots” by catering director Harry Magely, who put them on a warm bun and loaded them with toppings. These were sold at Polo grounds in New York City.

I used to have a single-minded obsession with hotdogs, especially the red Tender Juicy (TJ) variety. It was a staple in all my birthday celebrations as a child, and I made sure to eat the entire set – skewered and stuck into a poor cabbage like a weird meaty flower arrangement.

My mom said that before I turned 6 years old, I hated the stuff because I was loyal to one dish: sinigang. And then Ate K brought us kids to Camp John Hay, grilled hot dog capital of the city in those days, and that sent me on the road to weinerworld.

When I went vegetarian for 4 years, my brother used to ask me what would make me convert back to my meat-eating ways. You know it. HOT DAWG.

Here’s a quick tour of the stuff, accessible within a 10-minute brisk walk from my office:

Pure Foods Tender Juicy Hotdog (classic) – P37

Manufacturer/ Distributor: Pure Foods-Hormel, San Miguel Corporation owned by Danding Cojuangco
Description: It is known for its distinct cherry red color, to stimulate hunger and to make the hot dogs appear larger and juicier than they are when coated in oil. Ingredients include emulsified chopped assorted meat and additives
The jimmy: It has a faintly chewy texture and has that salty, smoky flavor. It tastes familiar and comforting, probably because you’ve been eating the stuff forever.
The dibs: Soft, almost papery steamed buns that taste like steamed cardboard. This is the saltiest hotdog I’ve tried, and hence, probably has the most sodium nitrites, which is essentially bad for your health.

Smokey’s Cheesedog – P32

Manufacturer/ Distributor: Also Pure Foods, San Miguel Corporation owned by Danding Cojuangco. Sold at all Smokey’s franchises.
Description: It has a nice russet color, and is pre-cooked then kept in steamed compartments. Known ingredients are the usual – assorted chopped meat.
The jimmy: Also of the salty variety – what hotdog isn’t really? Except tofu dogs, which are good, no matter what my family says. It is less flavorful that the TJ hotdog and has a faint porky aftertaste. If anything, it’s bland. The cheesy bits are hardly noticeable because the hot dog texture is extremely soft.
The dibs: I would recommend this for people with no teeth. I personally wouldn’t eat it without the bun, because it’s too… flimsy. Points for the nicely textured bread. Felt more solid.


MiniStop Pepperoni-stuffed hotdog – P26

Manufacturer/ Distributor: MiniStop, a Japanese convenience store chain. Franchised partly by the Robinsons Retail Group – a Gokongwei company.
Description: Considerably paler than its counterparts, this hotdog is also smaller than its commercial counterparts. It comes with packets of ketchup and mayonnaise.
The jimmy: It has a distinctly beefy flavor, even if it’s mainly made of chicken. Oh, and tiiiiny pepperoni bits. It has a mild, lightly spicy flavor and the meat is almost sweet rather than salty. By far, this has the chewiest texture, which is satisfying because you know your sausage is packed with meat.
The dibs: Soggy bread with crusty edges don’t make a meal. And the hotdog itself looks positively sad, doesn’t it, without its condiment bling?

Notice how many of your sandwiches are courtesy of landed families/ Chinese-Filipino businessmen/ big baaaad corporations. =P

If that makes you think about the politics of hot dogs somehow, by all means, ponder your mighty meaty hot dog. And chew slowly. With relish.


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