Friday, July 07, 2006


The extra "B" is for "bougie."

As in, "What bougie motherfucker gonna pay this much for a hot dog?"
The star of the wienie roast has fallen on hard times.

Mary Scott gets her dog just right at the Let's Be Frank stand outside AT&T Park in San Francisco.

In a country increasingly enamored of specialty sausages and natural beef, hot dog sales have slumped. But a new dog might save the day, one that is better for the environment and the animals, healthier for the body and, perhaps most important, doesn't taste like some kind of jailhouse punishment lunch.

The politically correct frankfurter.

In the past four years sales of packaged organic hot dogs have increased sharply. Although organic dogs have been around for at least a decade, the new models on the market taste better, have healthier fat profiles and are made from animals that spend their lives eating nothing but pasture.

The key is that the curing code has recently been cracked. Instead of relying on sodium nitrates or the more common sodium nitrites for color, texture and shelf life, hot dog makers have found a magic solution of celery juice, lactic acid and sea salt that rescues the organic dog from its tough brown reputation and rockets it to pink juiciness. It also addresses the concern among some consumers and scientists that nitrites and nitrates might contribute to cancer.

For parents like Andrea Slonosky, a media librarian at Long Island University in Brooklyn, a better dog is a big relief. She has a toddler who loves them. If it is meaty and cylindrical, he'll eat it.

She often buys packages with an organic label, however uneasily. After all, they're still hot dogs. "I really have to try not to think too hard about the fact that organic unthinkable meat scraps are still unthinkable meat scraps," Ms. Slonosky said.

The reasonable reader (and, certainly, the reasonable vegetarian reader) might be wondering why Ms. Slonosky gives her family hot dogs at all. But that reader probably does not have children and has never worried about getting enough protein into their little carb-stuffed bodies. Besides, why try to deny a kid a hot dog?

Americans eat almost $2 billion worth of hot dogs a year, whether deep-fried Italian style in Jersey, spiked with sport peppers in Chicago or batter-dipped in Texas. Almost 30 million hot dogs will be eaten at the nation's ballparks this year.

Still, the national appetite for conventional hot dogs is waning. The amount of packaged hot dogs sold has dropped by more than 6 percent over the past four years, to 772.4 million pounds from 825.8 million pounds, according to a new report from ACNielsen, the market research company. (Figures don't include sales at Wal-Mart, which doesn't release such data.)

Hot dogs labeled organic, although still a tiny slice of the market, have boomed. During the same period, the number of pounds of organic dogs sold has increased 21 percent, to 1.2 million.

Stephen McDonnell, who founded the natural meat company Applegate Farms in 1987 and remains its chief executive, argues that the hot dog revolution should center on beef from animals that eat only pasture rather than the standard diet of grain. Beef from cattle raised on grass is leaner and has a healthier dose of omega-3 fatty acids, the kind found in fish like salmon and mackerel. As a result, he said, the dogs are healthier.

After working for a decade on the formula, Mr. McDonnell this month introduced low-priced nitrate-free hot dogs made with grass-fed beef from Uruguay.

Sold under the name the Great Organic Hot Dog, they look just like those plump, salty, chemically pink dogs served on buns at sporting events and from street carts. The suggested price is $4.99 a pound; that's a dollar or so more than a pound of Ball Park franks, although on the third of July Great Organics were $5.69 at one Brooklyn supermarket.

What the fuck? Five bucks a pound? I guess you should replace your charcoal at the cookout, too. Maybe with this:
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Bougie charcoal

It's a hot dog, motherfucker! What's next, gourmet scrapple?

I thought I'd ask a real rich person what he or she thought. Since I don't know any rich people, I figured I'd look up what some famous rich person might have said.

Is John D. Rockefeller famous enough for you? Here's his take on the matter.

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The authority has spoken.

I mean, shit. I guess, if you want to pay all that money for artisanal sausage made from fuckin' condor eggs and tiger dicks, knock yourself out. But it's a goddamn hot dog. Let it be.

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