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Hebrew Nationals vs. Nathan's

  • Davwud Aug 24, 2008 11:16 AM
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Hey Hounds

So last night at dinner we had a conversation about the best store bought hot dogs. Mrs. Sippi and I said it was Nathan's and my friend said it was Hebrew Nationals.
I know a lot of folks have had their favourites and opinions on here but we decided to do a taste test.

We bough a package of each last night and had them for lunch today.

The precooked smell test definitely weren't to the Nathan's. Nice garlic aroma.

I did them three ways and the buns we used were plain old hot dog buns.

Boiled, plain, no bun. We both tried it this way.
Boiled, on a bun
Grilled,on a bun
I split both mine in half and did one end with 2 year old extra old white cheddar, mustard, kraut and onions. I did the other end with ketchup (keep the comments to yourself), mustard and Kraft singles
Mrs Sippi had all her dogs the same way.

We both felt that far and away the Nathan's were superior. It had better flavour, it puffed up on the grill (which I like) and stood up against the condiments better.

I had never had a Hebrew National before and I must say I was rather disappointed. If they were available here in Canada I wouldn't bother with them.

DT

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  1. I married a Brooklynite and Nathan's gets the nod from her point of view. Since she has supplied and provided them to the household for 42 years, I have to agree with her evaluation. Further they have to be the ones with natural casings.

    1. interesting taste test.

      my top 3 store bought dogs:

      1) Bests Kosher
      2) Nathans
      3) Hebrew National

      1. I'll throw in a vote for Pearl's, especially the variety I get locally at the deli counter - about 1/4 lb. each, with great flavor and a really pronounced pop when you bite into the casing. I used to buy Hebrew National (they make a "Dinner Frank" that is also 4 to a pound) but these have lured me away.

        8 Replies
        1. re: BobB

          All three are good. I have what I'm in the mood for. This past weekend I compared a Hebrew National to a Nathans. I've done this before and usually prefer the Nathans. This time I liked the Hebrew National better; I guess I wasn't in the mood for an overwhelming garlic flavor. Some delis actually sell Hebrew National with a collagen casing.

          My favorite natural casing beef dog is from Best Provisions (Not to be confused with Best Kosher out of Chicago) of Newark, N.J. Usingers out of Milwaukee and Boars Head all beef are close behind. Sabrett is also good.

          1. re: hotdoglover

            HDL

            Shofar used to make a good dog when jfood lived in NJ. Are they still around?

            1. re: jfood

              Shofar used to be made in Linden, N.J. Bought out by Best Kosher (Sara Lee owned) and not as good. I had one from a cart about 2 years ago.

              1. re: hotdoglover

                Used to get Shofar dogs from a cart at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds when we went to flea markets there. Then a couple of days ago we were checking out a Filipino market in Eagle Rock (L.A. County) and there was a Shofar dog cart outside the mall door. Guess I need to make it over there around lunch time... ;-)

                We really loved the taste of the Boar's Head dogs with the casing, but both times we tried them they gave us cramps and gas!

                1. re: Will Owen

                  Omaha Steaks Franks are the best ive ever had.

                  1. re: lolwahttt

                    Is that sincere or satire? Because Omaha Steaks are notorious on these boards for being mediocre Select-grade beef....

                    1. re: Karl S

                      Got to be a troll. Only post and it praises god awful hotdogs?

                      1. re: irishnyc

                        agreed....they have a price of $28 for 8*3oz dogs. at least they wont sell at the $9 sale price.

        2. Davwud, have you tried Sabrett's?

          1 Reply
          1. re: dolores

            Nope.

            I guess their next.

            DT

          2. Well, if you had Nathan's with natural casing, that would win hands down over a kosher dog (kosher dogs with natural casings are not commercially viable for reasons I will omit to be brief). A hot dog needs snap to be tops.

            Hot dogs are really supposed to be scalded for about 7 minutes in barely simmering water (that's what make them puff up - the salty dogs soak up water). But I like mine cooked on a pan after that. And the roll (top-sliced, New England style) should be griddle-toasted.

            But the best dogs are the ones that Nathan's only serves at the original Coney Island location - they are natural casing, but a bit more emphatic and greasier than the natural casing versions they package for sale elsewhere.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Karl S

              Karl,

              I, too simmer in water for 7 to 10 minutes first. The natural casing Nathan's at the supermarkets are the SAME as those served at Coney Island.

              1. re: hotdoglover

                Are they? I was told years ago that they were not, which I found hard to believe at the time, but for the fact that the ones at Coney Island had much more irregular endings than the ones in the packages, so there you have it.

                1. re: Karl S

                  I'm sure that those sold at Coney Island are the exact same recipe and casing as those in the supermarkets that have casings, although skinless are much more common. I'm not positive if they are the same size (I believe they are) or why Coney Island's have more irregular endings (if they do in fact), but I was told that they are the same recipe and casing by someone in a position to know.

                  1. re: hotdoglover

                    The Nathan's dogs of my childhood and the Nathan's dogs sold today have a similar flavour profile, but they are much less intense now than they were then and (unsurprisingly) much less greasy.

                    There were no skinless Nathan's dogs back then and you couldn't get them at a supermarket. They were manufactured by different companies at different times, but the recipe never changed. Nathan's was Murray Handwerker's company, and not an anonymous corporate entity. I went to summer camp with his son.

                    Today Nathan's is just a franchising company. While they are still the best tasting franks, they ain't the same. I didn't read ingredient labels back then - there weren't any packages. However, I doubt that the fifties recipe included things such as sorbital and wheat gluten.

                    I haven't been to Coney Island in a long time. When Nathan's first became widely available, I was told there were differences in the Coney Island product. That information, almost fifty years old, would be meaningless today.

                    The same situation existed at Shopsy's deli in Toronto. They claimed that the meats sold in supermarkets and the meats sold at their (pre 1980) deli were the same, but you didn't need an educated palate to taste the difference.

                    1. re: embee

                      Great post, Embee. I was aware of the fact that Nathan's dogs were produced by different companies, including Marathon (Sabrett). The meat and spice recipe is the same, although I doubt that wheat gluten and sorbitol were included years ago. I e-mailed Nathan's about this but have not received a response.

            2. As a child of Brooklyn, now living in Toronto, I'd take either over anything available in Toronto.

              The Nathan's sold at Coney Island (their only location at the time) were emphatically spicy, garlicky, and in a natural casing. The Hebrew Nationals were saltier, also garlicky, and the spice flavours were less sharply defined. They also had a natural casing back then. Both were delicious.

              Today, in Toronto, there is no frank available that is delicious. "Acceptable" is the best I've ever found. The skinless Nathan's and Hebrew Nationals sold in Buffalo are nothing like what I remember as a kid. The Nathan's are dumbed down and contain ingredients unheard of in the fifties. The HNs are also dumbed down, though the ingredients are much as I remember. There are no natural casing Nathan's and no collagen casing HNs in Buffalo (where the locally made pork franks all have casings).

              That said, I must make a yearly trip to Wegman's stock up since nothing local is worth eating.

              Davwud, I gather you are traveling in the States. Have a look at the Toronto Star website to see what's happening with deli here today.

              7 Replies
              1. re: embee

                "Have a look at the Toronto Star website to see what's happening with deli here today."
                I did. I must have missed something.

                DT

                1. re: Davwud

                  Maple Leaf Foods seems to make almost every major brand of non kosher deli in Canada except for President's Choice and Piller's. They have recalled everything they made this year.

                  It's much like the pet food thing last year. No matter what brand you buy, it comes from one plant. Maple Leaf, Schneider's, Shopsy's, Burns, Hygrade, Mitchell's, Coorsh, Bittner's, Swift, and many more; every supermarket brand except PC (they make No Name, No Frills, Compliments, Dominion Artisan, Safeway, etc); deli meat at McDonald's, Mr Sub, Tim Horton's, Pizza Nova, etc. They are virtually the only deli meat supplier to hospitals, nursing homes, and similar institutions.The death toll is now six and rising. At least they are handling it responsibly.

                  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when the current owner of Shopsy's Deli, Gavin Quinn, issued a press release to the effect that customers needn't worry since Shopsy's brand meats were not served at Shopsy's Deli. Ah for the days when real people were responsible for what they sold. Sam Shopsowitz must be turning in his grave about now.

                  1. re: embee

                    I didn't catch that part.

                    You got a link??

                    DT

                    1. re: Davwud

                      Go directly to http://www.mapleleaf.ca

                      Franks aren't part of the recall (different plant), but it seems that Juicy Jumbos and Shopsy's likely come off the same production line.

                2. re: embee

                  Embee,

                  Have you tried Shopsy's beef dogs from Toronto? I've heard that they are delicious.

                  1. re: hotdoglover

                    I'm not that big a fan.
                    The best I've found of the mass market ones in Canada are the Juicy Jumbo's All Beef.

                    DT

                    1. re: hotdoglover

                      They were delicious - fifty years ago. They are pretty bad now. There is one variety labeled "Original Recipe". It has no off flavours, but tastes mainly of salt. Whatever original recipe it is, it isn't the Shopsowitz family's original recipe. Turns out that Shopsy's is just a licensed brand name these days.

                  2. I vote for Nathan's. We've always been big on Nathan's, especially the stubby fat franks. I don't care much for the long and skinny ones.

                    As another poster suggested, natural casing that have that "snap" when u bite it are the ultimate best. Give me a farm fresh all pork dog in a natural casing and I'm a happy, happy girl.

                    1. To think, I made the trip to Coney Island this weekend but didn't indulge in a Nathan's dog. The line was too long and I was way too full from the 5 slices of pizza from Totonnos (which was amazing, for the record).

                      The key is the natural casing. Unfortunately most dogs in the supermarket these days are skinless. I usually wind up getting Boar's Head since they are usually the only brand with a natural casing. I can't even recall the last time I saw a Nathan's dog for sale in the supermarket with natural casings. And this is in NYC.

                      1. Of those two choices, I prefer Hebrew National. I do not like Nathan's from the supermarket at all. Believe what you want about the Nathan's being the same recipe as the ones from Coney Island, but I don't believe that for a second.

                        I only buy Boars Head or Thumanns, and occasionally Sabrett or Hebrew National. I tried Bests after reading praise of them here. I ate half of one, DH ate one (and he can eat 5-6 dogs in one sitting), and the rest went in the trash.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: irishnyc

                          Good regional dogs from NYC area and New England (the list below assumes all beef, kosher-style (that is, well flavored with garlic and ground mustard), natural casing versions only):

                          Nathans NYC
                          Sabrett NYC
                          Boars Head NYC
                          Karl Ehmer LI
                          Saugy's RI - very very local, wonderful
                          Grote & Weigle CT - not sure if they are still being made; a definite kick of ground mustard
                          Pearl (not the jumbo dogs) MA

                          1. re: Karl S

                            Mmmmm Karl Ehmers. Those are the best ever. I didn't list them since I didn't think they were outside of the NYC area at all. Luckily I live close to one of their shops, so I never have to think about where to get them.

                            1. re: Karl S

                              All good dogs. Saugy's are not all beef. Grote & Weigel makes mostly pork and beef. They do make a skinless all beef dog that you can find in supermarkets in Connecticut. The only all beef dog with casing they make is for Father & Son Luncheonette in Linden, N.J. I would also add Best's from N.J. and Usinger's from Milwaukee.

                              1. re: hotdoglover

                                Thanks. I thought I had an all beef G&W NC dog years ago that was mighty tasty. Forgot that Saugy's are pork and beef, since I only have them when friends in RI serve them to me.

                                1. re: hotdoglover

                                  Interesting -- I have Grote & Weigel natural casing beef hot dogs (as well as a package of Grote & Weigel natural casing pork and beef hot dogs) in my refrigerator.

                                  1. re: howaboutthat

                                    Can you tell me where you purchased them? And how long have you been able to get them? I spoke with a Grote & Weigel distributor a few years ago who told me that they only made the natural casing for places like Father & Son who had to place a minimum order of so many pounds. At that time they weren't available in supermarkets. If that's changed then great. They make a quality hot dog.

                                    1. re: hotdoglover

                                      Big-Y and Geisslers markets in Connecticut. I purchased them recently but do not know how long they have been available. These are packaged, not loose, dogs; though the latter may also be available in natural casing varieties.

                                      1. re: howaboutthat

                                        Thanks!

                              2. re: irishnyc

                                I like Thumanns too. Never tried Boars Head but our local grocer just switched over to BH deli, etc. so I'll give them a try.

                              3. Ah, Hebrew National, the hot dog of my youth, though we occasionally went on a whim and got Shickhaus...just as good

                                It's 2008, and Hebrew National is part of ConAgra Foods- you know the folks who make Chef Boy-ar-Dee, Slim Jims, Hunt's Tomato Sauce, and Marie Callender and probably 5,000 other things in your grocery store...So I don't know if Hebrew National reports anymore to a higher authority with the company he/she keeps...and maybe it's time, but they don't taste like I remember them.......

                                Which is why these days I've gone with Johnsonville, who makes all different kinds of charcuterie, but I find their franks to be the best

                                1. Funny, I was a wasteland hell that is a shopping food court and had a Nathans dog for the first time. I by far prefer Hebrew Nationals.
                                  The crinkle fries were quite good, however.

                                  1. Smith Provision Hot Dogs ~~ Erie PA

                                    1. Let me preface this by saying that the cooking method for all of these choices is outdoor grilling. Now, mt favorite at the moment is Thuman's. Nicely spiced, crispy and splits open on the grill, followed by Best's, but they run a distant second. Now my favorite dog of all time was at Katz's deli on Houston (When Harry Met Sally). We were there at 10:00 am (don't ask) and there were dogs on the grill that I could swear were left over from the night before. Half of the dog had turned to crust. Fantastic!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jnk

                                        Whereas I would never choose to grill a natural casing frankfurter, which (though I love char) is so thin that it will loose a lot of desirable grease if it's allowed to burst wide open like a brat. Poach and then brown over lowish heat in a pan - remove just before you see the bubbles under the casing about to burst.

                                        I do grill skinless frankfurters. That's what they are best for.

                                      2. I was never a fan of Hebrew National hot dogs (might as well have been eating baloney) because I was spoiled and grew up with original Nathan's hot dogs. However, we love and adore the Hebrew National knockwurst: great snap, intense flavor.