Before heading over to our friends' place for the evening, Sandy and I managed to do one traditional American thing: grill up some hot dogs for dinner. Hot dogs, of course, are as American as baseball, fireworks, and Mom's apple pie, and if there's one thing to eat on the 4th, they would be it. That's not to say that I'm especially crazy about hot dogs, though. Most people seem to use them as a condiment delivery device, and I think it's because they're kinda plain tasting by themselves. Add in the fact that they're pretty unhealthy in almost every regard, and made from mystery meat, and while I won't always pass on them, I won't reach for them first.
Anyways, the hot dogs Sandy and I grilled up for the 4th were Trader Joe's All Natural Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs. On a shopping trip not too long before then, we got suckered in with a free hit at the sample counter and decided they were worth more of a try. They're definitely kinda interesting. The chicken dogs come fully cooked, and between that and being of a leaner meat, were slower to grill up than other hot dogs, especially because Sandy and I prefer ours to be grilled to the wrinkly, crinkly, E.T.'s been in the bath too long-esque point. I wasn't particularly happy about this discovery when it began pouring rain literally 30 seconds after I put them on the grill and finished up grilling with Sandy's pink rain coat hood hooked over my head to cover my shoulders and back. That was a sight for the neighbors, I'm sure. When they were finally done and we sank our teeth in, my thought was, "worth the effort." They're not out-of-this-world fantastic by any means, but the TJ's chicken dogs taste unlike any other hot dog I've ever had. Part of it is, they aren't pork or beef, of course, but they also have a meatier texture than expected, and while they emulate hot dog flavor, it's a different take as they're less salty and lighter-tasting. Pretty decent, I'd say.
Also, yeah, they're healthier. Nitrates have been linked to all sorts of bad stuff like cancer, and while regular hot dogs are supposedly chock-full of them, according to the packaging they're as nitrate-free as possible. I mean, if pretty much the only ones in them come from celery, and celery is good for you, it can't be that bad, right? And while not being perfect in the realm of sodium (what is?), they're healthier than most every hot dog out there in terms of fat and calories, so all in all, Trader Joe's Chicken Hot Dogs make a decent grill-time choice.
What does that whole nonsensical Brent Spiner intro have to do with this? Well, just like his part in "Independence Day" was an outlier in terms of his regular acting gigs but ultimately didn't change my opinion that much about him, these hot dogs are different from the norm but don't completely redeem my opinion of the genre overall. Sandy said that, although she liked these guys enough, she actually prefers other hot dogs over these. I guess it just took too darn long for me to sizzle these almost beyond recognition for her (just the way she likes them) that I gave up on doing so. She hemmed and hawed for a bit before settling on a 3. Me? I like them more than pretty much any hot dog other than Hebrew Nationals, but they're not a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination. That being said, I'll be getting these again when the mood strikes. I'll go with a 3.5.
Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
Photo courtesy of http://dukanblogging.blogspot.com. We neglected to take a pic of these guys before cracking the seal on them, and while looking for a pic we stumbled across this interesting blog. Take a gander sometime.