Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Great Hot Dog Taste Test, Part 1

I'm a huge fan of Franktuary and all of their yummy hot dog combinations.  I haven't yet visited the Columbus equivalent, Dirty Frank's, but I'm hoping to visit soon.  In the meanwhile, I decided to do my own taste test of the vegetarian hot dogs out on the market.

There are a number of different brands of veggie dogs on the market, but my local Giant Eagle only carries two.  I hope to continue the taste test over the next few months as supplies and finances allow.

Earlier this week, I bought Veggie Dogs from Veggie Patch.  Veggie Patch (VP) makes a variety of different products, but they are probably most known for their "Bites" which is a range of cheese and vegetable breaded snacks.  I have seen their products in stores, but I have never tried any before today.

I also purchased The Good Dog from Yves.  I have used Yves products previously, and mostly because they seem to have better market penetration than some of the other companies that make meat analogues.  This may be due to their longevity; Yves has been in business since 1985, a full decade longer than VP.

Longevity is not the only realm where Yves has a leg up over VP, but first a quick run down of the stats.

Veggie Patch has 85 calories per dog, whereas Yves's Good Dog was only 50 calories.  Yves also has less calories from fat with only 10 calories per dog while VP has 50 calories of fat per dog.  Yves is also vegan whereas VP's Veggie Dogs do contain egg whites.  After a cursory glance at the nutrition facts, it seems that Yves also has more of the basic vitamins and minerals including iron and vitamin B12 (both of which are of concern to vegetarians); however, Yves also has more sodium than the VP alternative.

I selected one veggie dog from each package and cooked them on my George Foreman grill.  When I checked on them a few minutes later, the fat content in the VP dogs became obvious - the grill plate under the VP dog had taken on a greasy sheen while the area of plate under the Yves dog was fairly clean.
Top: Yves; Bottom: Veggie Patch

The color of the dogs was also much different.  VP's dogs are much paler (an almost unappealing yellow color), whereas Yves is colored much more like a traditional pork dog.

Before plating the dogs - and adulterating their flavor with my choice of condiments - I cut a small slice from each dog.  The VP dog was very soft, while the Yves dog had a little more tooth.  Flavor wise they were also much different.  VP had a subtler, more vegetable taste, but not a lot of flavor.  Yves's dog was much better seasoned and had a distinct - but not overwhelming - taste of onion. 

For the plated potion of the tasting, I put the two dogs on their own whole wheat hot dog buns and dressed them with diced onion and ketchup.  As a side-dish, I prepared some pan-roasted yellow cauliflower.

My early assessment of the flavor did not change upon consumption of the whole dogs.  The Yves dog was much better.  Overall, the flavor was more substantial and the texture was much more like a "real" hot dog.  The VP dog also had the same odd aftertaste that a lot of meat analogues have.  It's a flavor that can be best described as the taste of "morning breath". The texture of the VP dog was a bit mushy as well.  It wasn't unpleasantly mushy, but just not quite what one would expect from a hot dog. 

I definitely preferred The Good Dog from Yves.

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