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Oct 3, 2009 11:16 AM

Nathans Hot Dogs

This is an ongoing discussion here.
It always comes up as unavailable.
Went to the AC Centre and discovered that they now sell this elusive dog.
If they have it, there must be a distributor in Ont., or it should be available to mcewan, Nortown, etc.

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  1. Johnny Rockets also sells them. I don't know how they are cooked, but they don't taste right if they aren't grilled.

    Both get them through their foodservice sources. They are not available at retail in Ontario. The Canadian distributor, Canalta Group in Alberta, has been promising them "within months" for a couple of years, They still are...

    They have never been able to get a distributor for the GTA. I know they spoke to Nortown way back when, and did not reach a deal. I have no idea why.

    27 Replies
    1. re: embee

      i think the miami subs place on queen west claims to also sell them on their website.

      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        The other "authorized" foodservice outlet is called Auntie Anne's Pretzels. I have never seen one of these.

        1. re: embee

          in canada you mean? pehaps they have a niagara falls location.

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            There's an Auntie Annie's in the Fallsview Casino mall. The pretzel dog made with Nathan's is a guilty pleasure when in the area.

            1. re: abigllama

              Thx...good to know. Will look for Annie's next time in NF.

              1. re: abigllama

                I was at the Fallsview Casino last week and spoke to a manager at Auntie Annie's. This is the only location in Canada right now but they're planning on opening more in the Toronto area. They sell the tasty Nathan's product in the pretzel dogs as well as regular hot dogs.

                These hot dogs are so good. I just don't get why it should be such a challenge to get them here.

            2. re: embee

              Up until a couple of years ago Auntie Anne's locations were in quite a few GTA malls. They're now much harder to find, if present at all. They're common in malls in New York State for sure.

              1. re: magic

                There used to be an Auntie Anne's in Scarborough Town Centre. I recall hearing they'd closed most -- if not all -- of their locations.

                1. re: CeeQueue

                  Yup, that was the one I was most familiar with. Last time I was in Buffalo (May) I think I remember seeing it in some of the malls there. This is pretty off topic, but there you go. :)

          2. re: embee

            I was hoping that the "Toronto Star Taste Off" article would maybe open some eyes and get the ball rolling to importing some of these.

            Really glad to see you stuck to your guns and called out Toronto on the lack of good dogs.. Because I agree with you 100%.. I don't think I've ever had a great dog, ever, in this city..

            1. re: duckdown

              Actually, recalling the deep, dark recesses of long term memory, I was not QUITE accurate. I can remember two sources of good tasting dogs. However, these were never available at a supermarket.

              Switzer's on Spadina sometimes had Nathan's dogs (the original ones) and a kosher brand called Hod Carmel (which is long defunct). I believe they brought them across the border themselves. Supplies were limited and sporadic.This was in the seventies.

              There was also a street cart on the corner of Yorkville and Hazelton that had some good ones. I don't know where they came from. I think they lasted one summer.

              1. re: embee

                interesting.. there is a switzer's here in brampton but i would assume nthey are not related.. this one just sells lester's meat etc. but it is tasty enough if you're nearby

                how old is that article anyway? i forgot to check the date... if its a new thing maybe it piqued some intrest in some new restauraunteurs (hopefully)

                1. re: duckdown

                  According to David Sax, the Switzer's in Brampton is, indeed, run by one of the guys who last owned the place on Spadina. It is hardly similar, though.

                  I don't know whether they still make anything in house, but they had amazing beef knishes (wrapped in potato and baked). If you see these, try one and let us know.

                  The Star article was last week - I think it was Wednesday.

                2. re: embee

                  There are good all beef hot dogs produced in Ontario, and certainly, some good pork dogs. At the Chow hot dog cook-off, Nathan's was the best, but only marginally ahead of Delancey, Cumbrae, or Deli-Cart.
                  Big Franks had a following, too.
                  These are sometimes hard to find, but easier to get than driving to Buffalo.
                  When I'm buying dogs, I look for these brands, or Schneider's Juicy Jumbo's, and check the ingredients to see whether they have resorted to binders, such as soy, wheat or modified corn. Most of the above do not but may change at anytime. In the end, the hot dog maker has to provide a mature slurry formed into a skinned dog without resorting to soy or wheat. Not an easy task, especially if gelatinous organs are not used.

                  1. re: jayt90

                    This proves how drastically tastes differ. The "NY style" dogs tend to be salty and garlicky, and were traditionally eaten with nothing more than a smear of brown mustard and, possibly, some warm sauerkraut from the barrel.

                    The dogs popular in Toronto are really formulated more as bases for condiments than as treats to eat just for themselves.

                    I don't like Delancey or Big and I've never tasted Deli Cart. Cumbrae's are okay, but don't have any significant notes that would make them great on their own.

                    Binders are an interesting issue. Some dogs use the binders to cheap out on other, more costly, ingredients. For example, glutens can substitute for meat proteins. However, I recently learned that this isn't always true.

                    Nathan's dogs contain binders, but you wouldn't know that from eating them. There is no mechanically separated beef or beef "by-products", which is
                    the most important quality issue. The entire additive list is "less than
                    2%", which includes the salt and all of the flavourings.

                    Most of the additives are harmless, as far as I know, but they are quite a bunch: sorbitol, three hydrolyzed gluten proteins (soy, corn, and wheat), lactate, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, nitrite.

                    I'm guessing that the binders permit a lower fat content and mask the fat the dog contains. These dogs are 26% fat, which is high for today but (I suspect) at least 5-7% lower than in the past.

                    The Star taste test was a much smaller and less interesting sample than what you had at the Chow tasting. The winner was the Shopsy "Original Recipe". These Maple Leaf dogs are very different from the Shopsy's sold in the street, but likely not remotely similar to an "original" Shopsowitz dog. They won because, essentially, they didn't offend anyone.

                    1. re: embee

                      embee, have you tried grilling the Cumbrae's ones over an open gas flame until they blister (this will create a slight mess on your stove-top range)? The browning of the exterior really makes an exceptional difference.

                      Anyways, they are the ONLY Toronto dogs I truly enjoy, and I prefer them plain (no bun) with a small dab of mustard.

                      I would definitely love a chance to try a real, old-fashioned, NY-style dog.

                      1. re: Atahualpa

                        I haven't done that and can't really risk it because parts for my 21 year old gas stove are difficult to find. It has an infrared salamander, and replacing this stove will cost thousands. I suspect I can get the same effect on my barbecue - I'll give it a try.

                      2. re: embee

                        Interesting that you mentioned the fat. If I don't feel like going out and using the grill, I'll stick mine in the cast iron pan and fry them. The amount of oil that renders out of them is really surprising.
                        It also makes them fantastic in wieners and beans.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          Are you referring to your Nathan's stash or to the Cumbrae's?

                      3. re: jayt90

                        I recall the Stemmlers (is that the right name/spelling?) Ball Park dogs being very popular with many of us, while their all-beef version fell flat. Some liked Big Frank because of the strong anise taste...I spit out my bite. I found myself surprised that my favourite of the whole day were the Pillars European Style, which I enjoyed equally as well as the ones from my local European Deli (Rupelt's), which may have been their own or may have even been Pillars (will have to ask them).

                    2. re: duckdown

                      Huh, I got the feeling the article was written due to the Great Hot Dog CH Cook Off.

                        1. re: mikefly

                          Food writers and editors routinely monitor Chowhound Toronto and that thought crossed my mind when I saw the Star article.
                          It would be flattering if true.
                          Two questions arise: Why didn't they send a reporter to the hot dog cook-off?
                          Why was their own taste test of hot dogs done so poorly, without much scope or believability?
                          The Chow cook off was far from complete or definitive, but we did open some doors.

                          1. re: jayt90

                            I think they have become lazy, to be honest and I know this is not the place to discuss this, so I'm going to start a new thread in Food Media, if anyone would like to discuss.

                          2. re: duckdown

                            I agree. Nathans dogs are really worth the import.

                          3. re: embee

                            Summerhill Market, 446 Summerhill Avenue has Nathans franks. Saw them in the cold box last night.

                          4. I've never tried Nathan's but my favorite is the regular hot dog from European Meats in Kensington. They have a nice crunch when you eat them. Anybody else try them?

                            1. A broker has been hired in Ontario but just for food service right now i.e - ACC, Johnny Rockets (4 locations), Auntie Anne's Pretzels (3 locations). Once the product is produced in Canada it will be available in the Retail market.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Jade Alberts

                                Just did a web look-up of Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Nathan dogs wrapped in freshly cooked pretzel dough! Mmmm, I may have to visit Bramalea.

                              2. I'm fortunate enough to make 4 trips to the in-laws a year. They sell jumbo packs in the Costco down there and I stock up.
                                You can get a good dog here in TO. You can not get a great dog. Nathan's are great. We certainly need them here.


                                1. While technically not a hot dog, I would suggest Denniger's knackwurst, or as a substitute, Brandt's knackwurst for a really good hot dog-like experience.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: OTFOODIE

                                    Do any of the above have natural casing?
                                    We never grill our dogs.
                                    We prefer steamed with casing.

                                    1. re: erly

                                      Freybe's wieners at Highland Farms have lamb casings.

                                      1. re: jayt90

                                        Hi Jay,
                                        Once again to the rescue LOL
                                        We really like the Freybe's, although they are Pork rather than beef.
                                        Costco in their wisdom discontinued them as well as the Lester's Smoked meat, and we have not been able to find them elsewhere..
                                        We visit Frankfurt quite often , and they are exactly the same as the typical Frankfurt dogs.

                                      2. re: erly

                                        I was at the Brandt's outlet in Mississauga this week and picked up All Veal Weiners. They have a natural lamb casing and might be a good substitute for people wanting a no-pork, natural casing hot dog.

                                        1. re: OTFOODIE

                                          Were those the Big Frank brand, or maybe a house brand?

                                          1. re: CeeQueue

                                            They were Brandt's own brand. To answer acd123, yes, I've had them, and they were quite good.

                                          2. re: OTFOODIE

                                            Have you had them yet? How were they?