It’s time again for the annual Beggin’ Barkus Pet Parade in Soulard. The parade of fashionably attired mutts kicks off at 10 a.m. on Sunday, February 8 with registration at 12th and Allen; parade at 1 o’clock.
You don’t want to miss the wiener race at 2 p.m. (That’s not a hotdog eating contest; it’s a Dachshund Derby). I’ll be there with several of my dearest, dog-lovin’ friends. For those who don’t want to weather the cold or the crowd, I’ll take photos.
I bring up this canine caper as a preface to my post on what was once considered our national dish: The All-American Hotdog. Let’s face it, people, we’re not talking health food here. It’s time to proclaim the “least unhealthy” of the wieners. What’s the best of the lot? Admittedly, I don’t have a history of hotdog consumption, so you might take what I have to say with a grain of mustard.
My mother never let a package of hotdogs or a slice of baloney cross the threshold of our refrigerator. She had misgivings about processed food long before it was popular to shun nitrates, salt, and preservatives. To this day, I rarely eat a hotdog and when I do, I feel pangs of guilt. Thanks, Mom. With the variety of dogs to pick from now, she might have been less persnickety.
Today some hotdogs are made of all-organic, grass-fed beef without nitrates or “vanity meats,” as the USDA calls mystery content. According to registered dietician Carolyn Brown, a nutritionist at Food Trainers in New York, there are standards by which we should judge our dogs.
What to Look for in Your Hotdog
Research on healthier hotdogs comes from searches made by Health.com; OrganicGardening.com; Prevention.com; even Fox News. Most were in agreement on the winner. Top billing for Best All-Beef Hotdog went to Applegate Farm Great Organic Uncured Beef. The Applegate Farm frankfurter easily met Carolyn’s standards with no nitrates and preservative; only 110 calories and 6 grams of fat.
Organic Gardening website listed a number of other dogs made from grass-fed, organic beef some of which can be ordered online or purchased locally at Whole Foods.
Applegate gobbled up Best Turkey Hotdog. But Trader Joe snagged Best Chicken Hotdog (60 calories) made from uncured, boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs and flavored with garlic, onions and paprika, and nitrate free.
Best Veggie Hotdog went to Lightlife Smart Dogs. Made of soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, cane juice and water, these dogs weigh in at a mere 45 calories each.
To give your hotdog a nutritional punch, be sure to go with the Best Hotdog Bun. That award went to Ezekiel 4:9’s Sprouted Grain, containing wheat, barley, mullet, lentils, soybeans and spelt.
According to nutrition experts, even organic hotdogs should be eaten only occasionally and then it’s best to look for those lowest in fat, sodium, and calories.
The National Hotdog and Sausage Council says Americans eat 20 billion hotdogs a year, which comes out to about 70 per person. That being the case, it might be worthwhile reading the labels.