New York is serious about hot dogs. Not just the city, but the whole state. New York City is most famous for Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and the hot dog eating contest where the six-time defending champ throws down almost 70 dogs in 10 minutes… ridiculous. If your counting calories that about 27,000 of them. He is surprisingly svelte, as are most champion eaters… my heroes. I have had Nathan’s Famous and they are great, but if you want the “best” hot dog in New York you have to come a little west of the Big Apple. July is national hot dog month and Americans were out grilling over an estimated 155 million hotdogs on the 4th of July alone!! So it seemed only right that the first “LKBF” Championship begins with this titan of the tubular meats. Here is the line up for the head-to-head hot dog competition (in tasting order):
Dog #1 – Wardynski’s (Buffalo, NY) – originated 1919
Dog #2 – Hofmann’s (Syracuse, NY) – originated 1879 – Snappys
Dog #3 – Sahlen’s (Buffalo, NY) – originated in 1869
Dog #3 – Hofmann’s (Syracuse, NY) - the original Frank
With over 350 years of experience and quality between them you can put these dogs to the test anywhere in America, (dare I say Europe? Don’t get your lederhosen in a bunch Germany!!) and they will hold up, if not dominate!
Our esteemed judges for this first of many “LKBF” food championships are yours truly, Mr. and Mrs. Big Flavors. Between us, we have a coast-to-coast knowledge of the American hot dog. And we are joined by two very special guests, Mom and Pop Sullivan. They have over 100 years of hotdog eating experience spanning multiple countries. Pop has been throwing down frankfurters at ball parks and restaurants all across the U.S. (he says Mid West i.e. Chicago does them the best). Enough said.
We came up with what we felt were the three most important traits a hotdog must have. 1. Flavor 2. Plumpness 3. Texture/Snap. We scored these with a point system, the best being a 4 and so on down to the lowly 1. The table shows our combined scores for each of the dogs we tasted.
You’ll notice this post is light on pictures of the finished product. That’s because once the dogs came off the grill and hit our plates we were all concentrating so hard on scoring (aka stuffing our faces), we forgot to take them! But, really just imagine some hot dogs in buns with condiments on top. A little mustard, maybe some diced onion, little relish…… there you have it. In case you are wondering Mr. Big Flavors who cooked the dogs was the only one who really knew which was which, to keep it as objective as possible.
|Wardynski’s||Hofmann’s Snappy||Sahlen’s||Hofmann’s Frank|
In the taste category, both of the Hofmann’s varieties stood out. Interestingly, their Snappy version has a very unique taste. You may characterize this more as a sausage than a hot dog with its garlicky flavor (plus, it’s got a kick!). You could eat this version with no condiments at all. But, the judge’s favorite was the original frank. Plenty of authentic flavor you’d expect from a classic frankfurter.
The plumpness category goes to the Hofmann’s varieties again! Very important for that optimal dog to bun ratio. And finally, the texture/snap category awarded (again!) to the Hofmann’s original frank. Strangely enough, the Hofmann’s Snappy was not all that “snappy”.
So clearly, our winner here is the Hofmann’s original frank. No contest! It outranked the number 2 hot dog by 14 points! We were actually surprised because this is the first time all of us had eaten a Hofmann’s brand frank. Usually, it’s Sahlen’s or Wardynski’s around Buffalo. But, now we’re believers, and you should be too! (Thanks to Uncle Joe and Aunt Allyn for hipping us to the Hofmann’s.)
Now, we don’t want to offend anyone if their favorite did not reign supreme in this taste test. We understand that hotdog preference can be a bit personal with ties to home, especially ’round these parts. Even though the Wardynski’s came in last place here, it is still a quality dog that many people would call their favorite. We cooked them on a propane grill, but some swear by charcoal (which if you have the time, I feel is the best method). Other hotdoggers will tell you that the flat top is the way to go. However you cook ‘em and which ever is your favorite, eat a hot dog or 2, or 4 if your us, and say cheers to the summer!