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May 7, 2009 06:59 AM

Real Hotdogs

Is there a restaurant that serves hotdogs that are made out of real beef or real chicken meat? Not ground up parts of everything from the animal. I didn't realize what they are made of and even though I really want to have one, knowing what's in them is putting me off. So no more hot dog carts for me :(

Also, I've heard that the hot dog cars are very unhygenic (sp?) so I can't do the veggie ones there as well.

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  1. Shopsy's on Front? I think their hotdogs are all beef and it's sit down. I walked by the other day and it's still there although I had heard they were moving out awhile back. Maybe I misheard.

    1. Big Franks makes delicious hot dogs that they promote as made with quality ingredients, that consist of much less of the usual garbage that goes into hot dogs. I don’t know exactly what is in them as I’ve never had a backstage tour. But I reckon they would be a good option. They are in the Dufferin/Finch area. Very tasty. You can buy Big Franks dogs at numerous grocers throughout the city, you don’t have to go to their actual location. But I love going cuz I always leave happy.

      Nortown also sells their own hot dogs that I’m sure are a notch above the mass produced ones. Also delish. There are a few Nortown locations throughout the GTA.

      I must say though, give me a 10 cent Schneider’s crap dog and a ‘fresh’ (or at least not stale) Wonderbread bun and I’m a happy camper too. But good luck in your search!

      4 Replies
      1. re: magic

        Thank you! Will definitely try Big Franks.

        1. re: TOchowgal

          Welcome! I don't think you'll be disappointed.

        2. re: magic

          Big Frank's is the successor to J Kwinter's Hotdogs. I have not toured the Big Frank's facility, but I did see Jack Kwinter's plant (which now belongs to the company that makes Big Frank's). Note that this was many years ago, and Big Frank's may or may not be similar.

          Jack was extremely proud of what went into his products. I certainly didn't see anything go into the processing machinery that would have turned my stomach. However, despite the obvious high quality of the products, they didn't have much flavour. He explained that Toronto wasn't ready for a spicy, flavourful hotdog, and that these simply wouldn't sell. I don't think this is true today, but no company has ever taken a chance and tried to find out.

          Note that Loblaw's licensed the name and recipe and you can still get one type of the J Kwinter dogs at Loblaw's. They don't thrill, but likely don't contain anything weird.

          1. re: embee

            Yes, I do indeed remember J Kwinter, before it was called Big Franks. I remember there even used to be J Kwinter locations in quite a few food courts throughout the city. Long gone now.

            It’s interesting that Loblaws licensed the name and recipe. Whenever I run across a J Kwinter pack I’m always transported to the 80s…. it’s something I don’t see much of anymore, maybe at a few select Loblaws. Does this mean that Big Franks products use a different recipe? I mean, I’m sure Big Frank recipes have been modified to a small extent over time, but the way Big Franks hot dogs taste now is pretty much how I remember Kwinter hot dogs tasting back in the day. The successorship always confused me.

            While not superspicy, I find Big Franks flavour to be right up my alley. At the very least they are made with better ingredients and for sure no MSG according to their labels, which will interest TOchowgal. To me, they taste better when I enjoy them at the Steeprock location. At home I prefer Nortown veal wieners. But I do like both.

        3. First of all, out of curiosity, did you like hot dog cart dogs before you learned what was in them??

          Secondly, as for the carts being hygienic, I'm not sure now because I haven't had one in years but there was a time where the vendors handled money and buns without tongs or gloves. It may have changed but the story is still out there.


          5 Replies
          1. re: Davwud

            Yes I did like the hot dog carts before I learnt what was in the hot dogs. I used to get them a couple of times a year anyways. As far as the carts being hygenic, my coworker was going to tell me what turned her off of the hot dog carts but I was already grossed out with the info on how hot dogs are made that I stopped her from telling me her story.

            1. re: TOchowgal

              It's amazing how you can turn your nose up at something you'd previously like by finding out what it is.

              I remember being a kid and really liking this chicken thing I was eating. I asked what it was called and some said it was braised rabbit. I almost honked. The thought of eating rabbit was so gross. As it turns out, it was a variation on chicken cacciatore. Fortunately for me I was then old enough to realize that I should focus more on taste/texture than name.
              My second learing experience was as a young man. I was offered escargot. SNAILS!!! EWWW!! But remembering my previous experience I gave them a try. And loved them.

              So if you liked them before, just try not to think about it and go for it. It may help you get past these types of bugaboos in the future.


              1. re: Davwud

                The unfortunate thing is I can't even try not to think about it :(

                If I can't find a REAL beef or chicken dog, I will give up hot dogs.

                1. re: TOchowgal

                  Nortown definitely has chicken hot dogs. Personally, I love their veal wieners. But it's all good. Again, can't elaborate on the content but I'm guessing a healthy notch above what is widely available.

                2. re: Davwud

                  It’s interesting, people have eaten the less desirable scraps of protein forever and ever. But we freak out if we eat something that isn’t white breast meat or New York strips. I say as long as it is safe to eat, I don’t care what lesser parts are in hot dogs. It just has to taste good.

                  But I respect your desire for eating something more in line with something that doesn’t freak you out. I can’t argue with that.

            2. It's not just the ingredients, it's the recipe. Kosher hotdogs are made from pure muscle meat. They may contain fillers (potato starch is common), but they don't contain any animal oddments at all. There is nothing weird in a kosher hotdog (assuming you aren't vegetarian). That doesn't prevent most kosher hotdogs available in Toronto from tasting really, really bad.

              3 Replies
              1. re: embee

                I am not a vegetarian. I just want pure meat in my hot dog, that's all.

                And I've given up deli meats, fast food burgers etc. I am trying to eat healthier. I can't and wont' give up meat!! By the way, I used to be a vegetarian for 7 yrs and a vegan for about 2 of those yrs and I came back to eating meat as it works for ME.

                1. re: TOchowgal

                  If you've given up deli meats and fast food burgers, why are you even contemplating hot dogs? They're the lowest of the low, unless you make them yourself from scratch, which is a massive undertaking. If you come up with a winning dog recipe that's all quality meat, lean, not too high in sodium, filler-free, msg-free, corn syrup-free, and that doesn't use intestines for casing, let me know and I'll consider going back to hot dogs. Until then, if you care what you put in your body, and you seem to, you might want to skip hot dogs altogether.

                  Don't get me wrong, TOchowgal. I'm a sometime vegan, sometime vegetarian, sometime pescetarian, sometime omnivore. I'm undecided as to my moral stance, since everything tastes so damn good! I know that if I had to raise, slughter and butcher my own meats, I'd be a vegetarian in a flash, but as long as I don't think too hard about the origins of my meals, I happily eat everything that's reasonably healthy. I choose not to eat the dogs due to cholesterol/saturated fat content, sodium, etc. The unmentionable parts of the animals I can deal with, since it would be wasteful and disrespectful to the animal not to use every part after we sacrifice its life for our appetites.

                  1. re: TOchowgal

                    Big Frank's makes a very tasty spicy turkey sausage. With a bit of zing, it's my favorite among the company's several hot dog products, available at its headquarters on Steeprock Drive., just off Dufferin (William Allen Rd.), south of Finch Ave. W. It used to be even spicier than it is now, but I guess it was too spicy for most dog-lover's palates. You won't often find the four-packs, though, at the many retail outlets that carry Big Frank products. There's a small lunch bar attached to Big Frank's where you may be able to try a turkey dog to see if you like the taste. For sure, there's less crap in Big Frank's dogs than most others.

                2. Is the Steeprock location a restaurant or a store?
                  What time does it close tonight?
                  Found a phone number but its for a different location.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Little T

                    The Steeprock location of Big Franks is a production facility with a storefront where you can sit down and eat. No servers or anything, just order and pay at the cash and take your dog to a stool/table and eat. Don't quote me on it, but I think the storefront closes sometime in the later afternoon, I don't think it's open at night.

                    You can also buy packaged hot dogs and stuff to go.

                    1. re: magic

                      Checked last night and it was closed.
                      Seems to be a lunch only place, can't remember if they're open weekends.
                      But i'm guessing its like California Sandwich off Sheppard, weekday lunch only, which is understandable considering its an industrial area.

                      1. re: Little T

                        Not a problem. And yeah, I'm fairly certain it's weekdays only...

                      2. re: magic

                        Just went there for lunch. It's a good dog but not great IMHO. It's definitely quality. You could tell by the chewiness of the dogs. They didn't disintegrate when you bit into it. You had to chew it and it was nice.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          Glad you tried it out. Right on.

                          1. re: magic

                            I found a pack of these at a local health food store so I bought them and took them home. I gotta say, it's a real quality dog. Definitely the best I've had up here. My only complaint with it is I'd like it to be a bit more garlicy. Other than that, it's got good flavour, texture and some crunch to it. I'm really coming around to these dogs.

                            I'm planning on a taste test with Franks, Lester's Angus and Juicy Jumbo's All Beef. I'm not into the whole Angus thing but for size they seemed to be comparable to the other two.


                            1. re: Davwud

                              Good! Seemed like you were a tad lukewarm on them when you ate them at Big Franks? Liked them better at home?

                              1. re: magic

                                No, not lukewarm. Just not wowwed. This a good quality dog with a good flavour profile and good chew. But I'd like to see more garlic to it.

                                When I first had one, I put onion on it. It was strong onion so it was a little tough to decide. At home, I steamed it and it was about 25% bigger than the bun. So I had a couple bites plain.

                                As I said, it's a quality dog.


                                1. re: Davwud

                                  Not sure what you bought but I like Big Franks veal franks best. The beef franks are darn good, but I think the veal are even better. I'd definitely pick up some of the veal franks next time if you haven't already. I think they might scratch you where you itch.

                                  Unless really in the mood, I tend to stay away from the onions, even a small amount can overwhelm these dogs I find. I just go ketchup (gasp!) and mustard.

                                  Also, BF knuckers are great. They are beef dogs with such a crisp (thick? tight?) casing that has the most divine snap and pop when bitten into. Heaven. Try these or the veal dogs next time at home. Even better than the regular beef dogs.

                                  These dogs are best enjoyed on the hot dogs buns that BF uses. Those is some goddamn fine buns. I once asked who supplies their buns and I think I was told Health Bread…. but not 100% sure of that – could be Bagel World. God bless Nortown though, they carry all these products (Nortown’s hot dog buns are very similar to those BF uses, not sure if they are from Bagel World or Health Bread but who cares, they’re great for large hot dogs like BFs). Not sure if Nortown sells BF knuckers, those you might have to buy at BF itself.... not sure how available BF knuckers are in stores. They def have the veal franks and the best bun for the job. Certainly the Eglinton Nortown at any rate…. different Nortowns vary in the products they sell.

                          2. re: Davwud

                            Davwud brought up a good point. Chewing brings out flavour. We seem to be culture bent on making everything more tender, as if we are all seniors with dentures (no offense to seniors with dentures. The device on your right is your mouse). A bit of chew is good.