People sometimes ask me, as a vegetarian, what foods I miss eating from when I used to eat meat products. It’s hard to think of many, because my tastes have changed, and there are also so many good vegetarian and vegan reproductions of former familiar foods such as beef, chicken, sausage, cheese, etc.
However, I grew up in a German household in a German town (Cincinnati), where we had Kahn’s Weiners (“The Weiner the World Awaited”), and all manner of bratwurst, mettwurst, and just about every other kind of wurst. My one disappointment with vegetarian “meat” substitutes has been a good hot dog.
Many years ago, when I took a half-hearted two-week stab at being a vegetarian, I purchased a can (!) of “hot dogs” at the health food store down the street, and that evening my family looked up at me from their plates with their expressions saying, “How could you?” Perhaps the taste of these “hot dogs” has improved since the early 1990s, but I’ve been reluctant to try them again.
When I finally became a vegetarian almost 3 years ago, I tried several brands of vegetarian/vegan hot dogs, and every one of them miserably failed a taste and texture test. Sometimes my family and I would bravely eat them after smothering them with everything we could think of so as not to have wasted them, but sometimes even that didn’t help. There are times when all the mustard, ketchup and pickle relish in the world can’t disguise burned rubber with a plastic aftertaste.
My daughter found a brand she could live with, but I refused to try any more of these vegetarian “hot dogs.” But now and then I’d get a craving for a good chili dog (I can make a good vegetarian version of Cincinnati-style chili) or kraut dog and wish there was a decent veggie dog. My daughter would suggest Yves hot dogs, which we hadn’t tried. “Lots of people online say they like them,” she’d venture, but I just sneered. I wasn’t willing to be disappointed again.
However, Yves hot dogs were on sale this week at our local grocer’s, and I acquiesced. For some random reason, they came 9 to a package. Since there are only 8 buns in a bag, I decided to test the ninth hot dog. I cut it into three pieces and prepared each piece a different way: panfrying in a small amount of oil, boiling and broiling. I tasted the panfried piece first, and was pleasantly surprised — the seasoning was very good, and it actually smelled and tasted like a hot dog, and no plastic aftertaste! The boiled and broiled pieces were good as well, and since they tasted this good plain, my mind started working–kraut dogs, slaw dogs, chili dogs, barbequed dogs, pigs in blankets, and my favorite, simply on a bun with good mustard and chopped onions.
We had kraut dogs on buns for dinner, and they were very good; I have to say I was quite pleased. No, they don’t perfectly match Kahn’s Weiners, but they’re pretty close. I don’t plan on eating hot dogs all the time, as I’m trying to work away from eating so many processed foods, but it’s nice to know I now have a go-to brand for when I get the next craving.
A caveat — if you’re currently eating regular meat hot dogs, you may not find these to your liking. But if you’re looking for a good substitute, these should fill the bill. The ones we tried are Yves “Good Dogs” — there are other Yves varieties I haven’t tried and can’t vouch for their taste and texture, though I expect to try them eventually.
Yes, I’m pleased. Hot dog!