- The Fourth of July is coming, meaning it’s hot dog season.
- I ate hot dogs from Dairy Queen, Checkers,Shake Shack, Five Guys, and Costco to see how they’d compare.
- On a 1-5 scale, I judged them based on three criteria: sausage quality, bun quality, and overall flavour.
- Costco’s behemoth brat beat its competition by far, and was also the cheapest.
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Not everyone agrees on the best way to eat a hot dog.
As an acolyte of the Chicago school, I like mine dressed in a skimpy squirt of yellow mustard. Others will slather their wieners with ketchup.
Still, the basics tenets of a good hot dog remain universal: a juicy, flavorful sausage and a soft bun that’s a fluffy yet sturdy second fiddle to the meat.
In anticipation of America’s favourite summer party day, the Fourth of July, I decided to eat a bunch of hot dogs and tell you all about it.
I went to Dairy Queen, Shake Shack, Five Guys, Checkers, and Costco to see who made the best dog and the worst wurst. While Costco isn’t typically what eaters think of for a fast food meal, its food court does not require a membership to eat at and the chain is one of the US’ largest slinger of hot dogs.
At each joint, I ordered a basic hot dog and dressed it with mustard a la Chicago rules. I judged the hot dogs on a scale of 1-5 based on sausage, bun, and overall taste.
DAIRY QUEEN: HOT DOG — “Grill” is perhaps a generous term for what goes on at the DQ Grill & Chill. I paid $US3.29 for this hot dog in New York.
SAUSAGE: 2 — It’s juicy, but that’s the only good thing about it. There’s a distinct offal flavour and it’s way too salty. It kind of tastes like cheese even though there is none. BUN: 2 — It’s fluffy, but also stiff, dry, and bland.
OVERALL FLAVOUR: 2 — I’d only go for DQ’s hot dog if there was nothing else available.
SHAKE SHACK: HOT DOG — I’m a Shake Shack stan, but I never get their hot dogs usually. I paid $US4.99 for this example in New York.
SAUSAGE: 3 — My past avoidance is validated. The sausage has a robust meaty flavour, but it was tough, dry, and too salty. BUN: 4 — It’s lightly sweet and a little fluffy, but I’ve had better.
OVERALL FLAVOUR: 3 — It has a good dog to bun ratio. Although it’s a tough chew, it mostly accomplishes a decent flavour.
CHECKERS: HOT DOG — Checkers hot dog looks small and grey compared to some of its competitors. I paid only $US1.49 for it, the cheapest of the bunch (by a hair).
SAUSAGE:— 4 — Very juicy with a meaty flavour. BUN: 2 — Sad, crushed, and sweet.
OVERALL FLAVOUR: 4 — Simple but solid, Checkers hot dog is nothing fancy, but it’s a satisfying classic rendition.
FIVE GUYS: HOT DOG — Another split-down-the-middle sausage situation. It was also the most expensive dog I had, setting me back $US5.05.
SAUSAGE: 5 — The juiciest, most flavorful and savoury sausage with a deep meat flavour and a hint of char. BUN: 4 — Fluffy, sweet, and plentiful.
OVERALL FLAVOUR: 5 — Five Guys delivers one hearty, hugely satisfying hot dog.
COSTCO: HOT DOG — Costco’s hot dog is the biggest of them all and a testament to machines’ abilities to create a consistently beloved behemoth. It is famously only $US1.50 nationwide, and even includes a drink.
SAUSAGE: 5 — There’s a reason the hot dog is Costco’s secret weapon in drawing customers to the store. It’s bursting with juice and flavour. BUN: 5 — Pillowy soft with contrast from the light coating of cornmeal, it’s light and sweet with a bread-y bounce.
OVERALL: 5 — Costco’s wiener is just better in every way. It’s the dog I’ll dream of at night.
FINAL RANKING — 5. Dairy Queen. 4. Shake Shack. 3. Checkers. 2. Five Guys. 1. Costco
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