Hot Diggity Dog: The Maven’s Faves
Abeles & Heymann Beef Frankfurters
The overwhelming favorite — it beat the runner-up by nearly 30% on tasters’ scorecards — and the consensus choice. These franks have a beautifully balanced taste: mildly smoky, not overly salty (a common failing among the contenders), with no off flavors or unpleasant aftertaste. The skin crackles nicely upon grilling and produces a satisfying snap when bitten into, releasing a burst of juice into the mouth. In taste, texture and appearance alike, this is what a frank should be.
Hebrew National Beef Franks
For good and bad, these are the franks that have long defined the field. Some tasters complained that they lacked much in the way of distinguishing flavor and, with only the thinnest of skin, any discernible snap; others found the taste to be smooth and well balanced, if a bit unassertive. Still, even in a blind taste test, these franks possess a quality of “knownness” that makes them comforting and helps to compensate for any of their innate weaknesses.
International Glatt Kosher Beef Frankfurters
Said one of the tasters: “I like what they’re trying to do here.” These franks have a pleasingly firm texture, and a good snap when you bite into them; still, these attributes couldn’t overcome some imperfections in the franks’ taste. Several tasters found the franks too salty, and others identified a certain herbaceous flavor — one noted a “rosemary aftertaste” — that, it was generally felt, doesn’t work well in a frankfurter. Still, with a few modifications in the recipe this frank could be a contender.
Rubashkin’s Beef Franks
These franks have an assertive, well-rounded flavor that some tasters found appealing. They were done in, though, by the texture, which is frankly mushy, without any identifiable snap from the skin. These are franks that one might turn to in a pinch, but they are not likely to be many people’s first choice. This is a solid midrange frankfurter.
New York Kosher Deli Beef Franks
This was the brand that finished last among the beef frankfurters. One taster liked the “mild, pleasant flavor,” but the majority feeling was that these franks were sadly lacking on all the major counts: too salty, too mushy, not enough snap.
Solomon’s Buffalo Frankfurters
Kosher buffalo? The idea may seem as incongruous as Mel Brooks’s Yiddish-speaking Indian chief in “Blazing Saddles,” but Solomon’s franks meet the strictest glatt standards. However, that is about the best that can be said for them. These franks manage to pull off the trick of having both a bland taste and a foul aftertaste, which one taster identified as “soapy.” Affirmed one taster: “I wouldn’t feed these franks to my kid.”
Empire Kosher Chicken Franks
Empire has long been recognized as having perhaps the best tasting of all mass-market chickens, kosher or otherwise. But what works in roasters and leg quarters clearly doesn’t work in frankfurters. These franks met with universal disdain among the tasters, who complained about the pronounced mealy texture and off-puttingly bland taste, not to mention the franks’ skin, which seemed barely to register the act of grilling. “I don’t like this one at all,” one of the tasters noted, which about summed up the general response. A classic case of a company not sticking with what it’s good at.