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Nathan's vs Ballpark Hot Dogs - moved from Chains board

Enjoy Good Food Jun 16, 2009 06:03 AM

My tummy has decided that Nathan's (New York style) hot dogs are far superior to Ballpark or any other brand on the market. Interestingly, Auntie Anne's pretzels are selling Nathan's wrapped in a pretzel ("pretzel dog") and it's outstanding: greasy, garlicky and satisfying. As for the ham and cheese pretzel pockets at Auntie Anne's....not to my liking.

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  1. r
    rocknroll52 RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 16, 2009 08:09 AM

    Nathan's are good but I prefer Hebrew National

    9 Replies
    1. re: rocknroll52
      Enjoy Good Food RE: rocknroll52 Jun 16, 2009 10:41 AM

      Thanks for the tip on Hebrew National. What makes them better?

      1. re: Enjoy Good Food
        Fibber McGee RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 16, 2009 12:54 PM

        They taste much better, for one, imho. As they're kosher, they're not loaded with a lot of artificial ingredients that can affect the taste. They're just beef as opposed to a mixture of chicken, beef and pork, so you don't have the amalgamation of flavors that may or may not appeal palate-wise.

        1. re: Fibber McGee
          embee RE: Fibber McGee Jun 17, 2009 03:10 PM

          HN dogs happen to be made solely from muscle meat and don't contain anything but beef. The reality of kosher sausages is that they can contain any kosher animal part, from any kosher animal, singly or in combinations. They can also contain binders and fillers as long as these are both kosher and non-dairy. Note, also, that "artificial" ingredients are kosher more often than not. Sugars, corn syrups, starches, etc can be eminently kosher. HN simply doesn't use these things in their products.

          (I believe that mechanically separated meat is banned from kosher products, but I'm not certain.)

          Many high quality non-kosher dogs (Nathan's is a good example) contain similar ingredients. OTOH, the kosher dogs generally available in Toronto range from barely okay to truly revolting.

          What differentiates HN and Nathan's dogs from others is that the (dare I say) "legacy" versions have a very strong garlic/spice profile. They taste quite different from each other, but both brands tend to come out at or near the top in blind tastings.

          Unfortunately, both Nathan's and HN also sell dumbed down variants that are distributed much more widely than the good ones.

          We can't get either brand here in Canada. I suspect that HN probably makes chicken franks as well as beef franks.

          1. re: embee
            foodiesnorth RE: embee Jun 17, 2009 03:38 PM

            Not in Canada you say? I just went to the Silk Hat resto in Edmonton today for lunch and there were Nathan's on the menu. HN are at (or were recently) at Andy's IGA in the city. Love them for all the reasons set out above. I must admit though that we love Nueske's hotdogs and bacon (which are not in fact availbale in Canada except by mail..we order them all the time)

            1. re: foodiesnorth
              embee RE: foodiesnorth Jun 17, 2009 07:24 PM

              I stand corrected. I had forgotten that there is a distributor in Alberta. There is no retail source of either brand in Ontario. Johnny Rockets franchises do sell Nathan's franks in Toronto, but these are not the "real thing" with strong spicing and a natural casing, cooked on a flattop.

              I was actually trying to find a company willing to distribute either or both of these brands in Toronto but, for whatever reason, there was no interest. After tasting the wimped out HN and Nathan's dogs that I brought home from Wegman's last summer when I finished my several year old stash, I lost interest.

            2. re: embee
              bagelman01 RE: embee Jun 17, 2009 04:59 PM

              Hebrew National does NOT make chicken franks....................

            3. re: Fibber McGee
              Doctormhl1 RE: Fibber McGee Jun 17, 2009 05:30 PM

              Are you sure Hebrew National hot dogs are kosher? Don't let the name deceive you. What is the name of the supervising kashruth authority for HN?
              I have just completed some research on the subject and it appears that Hebrew National hot dogs are in fact now certified kosher by the Triangle-K supervising authority.

              1. re: Doctormhl1
                Karl S RE: Doctormhl1 Jun 17, 2009 06:05 PM

                FWIW (that is, I realize this does not resolve things definitively):


                1. re: Doctormhl1
                  embee RE: Doctormhl1 Jun 17, 2009 07:32 PM

                  Hebrew National products have always been kosher. They aren't, and never were, glatt. Distrust of Hebrew National's kashrut has been an issue in some communities, though not in many others. Even the kosher board doesn't get into issues about "how kosher" anything is.

                  Assuming you aren't a frum orthodox Jew, who must seek counsel from a trusted authority, it is reasonable to consider HN products as being kosher.

          2. t
            TomSwift RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 16, 2009 08:50 AM

            I find Nathan's superior to BP. You should try Let's Be Frank dogs - natural casing and very good seasoning. Still, I think that Boar's Head Natural Casing Knockwurst are the best I've found in the markets. Superior flavor and a terrific snap.

            2 Replies
            1. re: TomSwift
              Enjoy Good Food RE: TomSwift Jun 16, 2009 10:44 AM

              Thanks for the tip on "Let's Be Frank" dogs. As for knockwurst....I consider it to be the more complex cousin to hotdogs. I'm a big fan of Hillshier knockwurst.

              1. re: Enjoy Good Food
                irishnyc RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 17, 2009 05:03 AM

                Hillshier anything is garbage... it's all glorified hot dogs, and not very good ones.

                I concur with monkuboy that Ballpark franks are the worst ever. Nathan's aren't much better. We only eat Boars Head or Hebrew National.

            2. monkuboy RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 16, 2009 11:19 AM

              Ballpark franks shouldn't even be considered a hot dog. Anything that "plumps when you cook 'em" has got to have some bad stuff in it. I haven't eaten one for years but it was the worst hot dog/frank I'd ever tried at the time, and nothing has come close since then.

              1. c
                CDouglas RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 16, 2009 09:41 PM

                My kids always ask enthusiastically "What kind of hot dog was that?" when I cook Nathans. The wife stocks HNs Both are good but Nathans get wiped out immediately in my house.

                1. n
                  NewDude RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 16, 2009 11:53 PM

                  What parts of the cow are processed into hot dogs out of curiosity? Are you sure Hebrew's doesn't have anything 'artificial?' If it can sit for weeks in the fridge without freezing or spoiling, there have to be preservatives in there.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: NewDude
                    Fibber McGee RE: NewDude Jun 17, 2009 04:25 AM

                    Preservatives are not always artificial.
                    You've kept kosher hot dogs in your fridge for weeks?

                    1. re: NewDude
                      Enjoy Good Food RE: NewDude Jun 17, 2009 10:28 AM

                      Hey NEWDUDE....we best not seriously discuss what goes into hotdogs or we'll make everybody throw-up. Perhaps we would be better off discussing the inspection reports for local restaurants. now that's a competitively horrifying subject.

                      1. re: Enjoy Good Food
                        NewDude RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 17, 2009 01:24 PM

                        Well, I haven't bought hot dogs for home in years, although I did have a costco 'dog a few months back. So I can't really look at a list of ingredients just by rummaging around/through the fridge. Seriously, what parts of a cow are hot dogs made from?

                        Maybe Whole Foods or TJ's sell some organic/rbgh free 'dogs?

                      2. re: NewDude
                        embee RE: NewDude Jun 17, 2009 02:48 PM

                        It's cured meat. It has normal preservatives (salt and nitrate + smoke). It doesn't contain fillers, binders, or odd animal parts. HN has a higher than typical spice/garlic level.

                        1. re: embee
                          bagelman01 RE: embee Jun 17, 2009 03:05 PM

                          Higher than typical than what? Certainly not a higher spice level than most kosher hot dogs. In fact the spicing level has dropped over the years as it is marketed to middle America by CONAGRA.

                          The ingredients of HN from their website:
                          INGREDIENTS: Beef, water, salt, contains 2% or less of spice, paprika, hydrolyzed soy protein, garlic powder, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, flavorings.

                          Where's the smoke? I don't know of any kosher hot dogs that add smoke.........

                          1. re: bagelman01
                            embee RE: bagelman01 Jun 17, 2009 07:16 PM

                            You are certainly right about that! As I said, it's becoming harder and harder to get the "legacy" spicing from either HN or Nathan's. I'm originally from Brooklyn, and the stuff available today in Buffalo area supermarkets (the closest source to Toronto) can't compare.

                            That said, even the wimpy ones still have more flavour than the stuff sold here. We have a few high quality brands (not kosher), but most have little flavour beyond salt or smoke flavouring.

                            Kosher hot dogs can certainly be smoked, or contain added smoke flavouring, but I was, indeed, making an assumption about HN. Garlic was the most pronounced flavour in that brand when I was a kid.

                      3. Davwud RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 17, 2009 04:36 AM

                        I'll take Nathan's over anything else I've found. Did a blind taste test with HN and Nat's and Nat's went 3 for 3 with us.


                        1. monkeyrotica RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 17, 2009 05:08 AM

                          I get Nathan's Natural Casing dogs when I can find them. Ballpark just tastes like boiled bologna.

                          Hebrew Nationals are WAY too salty for my tastes.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: monkeyrotica
                            Fibber McGee RE: monkeyrotica Jun 17, 2009 07:20 AM

                            There's the preservative.

                          2. EWSflash RE: Enjoy Good Food Jun 17, 2009 06:39 PM

                            I think it was America's test Kitchen that did a taste test on hot dogs (kosher or not) recently and Nathan's won. I have to get me some and try them.

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