Hot Dog King?
When I wrote for “The Hot Dog I Ate” several years ago, I made mention that I wasn’t much of a hot dog man. And while I don’t consider myself an expert, my intake and appreciation has increased significantly since then. Now I make it a point to try as many hot dogs as I can within my given radius. I’ve discovered that hot dogs are a part of the classic Americana tapestry, giving areas their own flavor as well as bragging rights. It’s honestly fascinating to see the pride on some local’s face when you give them the opportunity to point out their favorite dog stand.
Instead of covering the myriad of local options available for this article, I’ve decided to throw a curve ball and tackle the corporate elephant in the room. That’s right, Burger King’s
hot dogs Grilled Dogs. Burger King is obviously putting a lot of effort into this. Honestly, I haven’t seen BK put this much into advertising since their chicken fries push. They even have Snoop Dog shilling them in a cringe-worthy training video. With the help of an encouraging text, I pushed past my fast food skepticism and ordered both the Classic Dog and Chili Cheese Dog. The whole affair was rather unceremonious.
Soon I was home and ready to consume. The first thing I noticed was how different the dogs looked when compared to how they were advertised. Of course this is nothing new in fast food advertising and there are real reasons why a burger can’t look the same as an advert, ingredient display, lighting and so forth, the difference between the television version and the IRL version was absolutely astonishing.
Looks can be deceiving, especially in the world of encased meats. The real question is, ‘How did they taste?’. Well, the Classic was definitely relish heavy, to the point where I had catch my breath after inhaling the pickled vapors. However, the actual taste wasn’t bad. The outstanding feature was the meat itself. Juicy, a good beef flavor and with a nice bite. Perhaps a bit heavy on the sodium, but surprisingly tasty sans the overpowering toppings. The Chili dog was fairly similar except than overpowering with different flavor, the cheese and chili were actually quite bland. For me, this is where bold flavor is desired.It was also in the chili dog that I discovered something strange. A long, translucent thread of sorts. At first I thought it was a grey hair, but was mildly less disgusted when I discovered it was some sort of plastic thing.
So, what is my final take away from Burger Kings Grilled Dogs? They’re not bad. And perhaps in the hands of a more skilled artisan, they may even be pretty good. But that’s not really the point of hot dogs, is it? The story of the hot dog is intertwined with the individual stories of the stands, the towns, and the customers – and that makes them more than just encased meat. Except for perhaps pizza, hot dogs have a unique place in the hearts of eaters. We brag about our hometown coneys, ready to put them up against any other. We make sure to visit that special stand when we get back to… wherever. And we remember the taste of our first baseball game dog. While Burger King’s efforts are surprisingly laudable, they’re just incapable of capturing the magic of the dog by design.