As Labor Day cookouts approach, some are planning sausage and brisket, some burgers and wienies. When it comes to hot dogs, most any of us can pitch a few points about our personal favorites.
So, the timing is right for the fight between food giants Kraft Foods Inc. and Sara Lee Corp. to heat up. Lawyers for each of the Chicago-based companies went to court Monday to point well-manicured fingers each others’ clients for advertising claims to having the best, or best-tasting, hot dogs.
Sara Lee touts its Ball Park Franks, while Kraft Foods claims its Jumbo Beef Franks are better. Millions, we assume, are being spent on this litigation, which is also generating a whole lot of publicity.
Readers who commented on Monday’s article provided a bit of entertainment. There were the inevitable Anthony Weiner jokes and Barney Frank got a slap or two. The expected aspersions were cast at people who actually eat hot dogs.
We concur that hot dogs made with the full dosage of preservatives aren’t good for you, and especially not for your colon. I’m sorry to mention this word, but it tends to crop up in stories about hot dogs.
The comments also mentioned good hot dogs we didn’t know. One said that Cloverdale natural casing franks were the best. Cloverdale Foods Company is in Mandan, N.D. And, just in case anyone was wondering, the “natural casings” are sheep intestines. (See what I mean about that word?)
Another touted Ted’s Hot Dogs in Tempe, Ariz. (Except he got the name wrong the first time and said Tom’s Hot Dogs.)
Another said hot dogs from Michigan were the best. “Koegel’s in Michigan is the best hands down and by Michigan law contains no ‘mystery meats’. Many diners across the nation use Michigan hotdogs due to the strict laws and excellent quality,” he said.
Koegel’s, is in Flint, Mich., and apparently supplies only in Michigan with a few of its products going to Toledo, Ohio. Their slogan is one we’d like to suggest both Kraft and Sara Lee consider: “Made Up To a Quality … Not Down to a Price.”
One or two comments roundly dismissed my own favorites, Hebrew National and Nathan’s.
I changed my mind about putting Nathan’s in the top spot earlier this summer. We did a Hebrew National reduced-fat frank tasting alongside Nathan’s in July. Not a formal tasting; just my husband and I sitting around the patio sweating, drinking beers and sampling wienies off the grill. (Yes, we eat wienies from time to time. And, some people don’t wear helmets when they ride their motorcycles. Choose your danger.)
Tasted alongside the kosher dogs, the Nathan’s suddenly seemed to acquire a livery taste. “Tastes like liver” is a real kiss of death for me, unless we’re talking about a duck and green peppercorn pâté or seared foie gras sprinkled with sea salt. So, that decided the wienie question.
Here’s why I think that Kraft and Sara Lee should just give it up: Truth is, aren’t they actually fighting for the right to claim to be third and fourth best wienie, or even seventh or eighth? And, what is the point of that?
They might sell the most hot dogs because they are corporate giants —and this public battle might be pushing those sales to new heights. But they’re kidding themselves if they think they even have a dog in the fight for No. 1 Best Wienie Champion of America. Or, maybe they’re just trying to kid us.