I'm a cat person, but I love a good dog. Hot dog, that is. Since before I can remember, I've been an absolute hound for Oscar Meyer Beef Franks, boiled, fried, barbecued, or just straight out of the package. As far as meat and meat by-products go, the Oscar Meyer Beef Frank was second only to bacon in my little world. Alas, like truth in advertising and honest politicians, those days are gone forever. Without warning, Oscar Meyer has ruined my life by changing the beef frank, and it's a change for the worse.
In June of 2008, I picked up a package of OMBF's and immediately noticed that something was wrong. The familiar light blue on the label had been replaced by a darker, more ominous shade of blue. Not only that, but the franks themselves were darker too. The usual fleshy hue was gone and I was staring at a dark and ruddy looking set of franks. I checked the rest of the packages, but they were all the same. My first thought was that they looked as if they spent the weekend at the beach. You know how a hot dog darkens if you leave it out for a while? That's what they looked like.
Fuck it, said I. It's Oscar, he wouldn't mess with a good thing. They probably just put too much dye in the mixture.
So I tossed the dogs in my basket and hit the check-out lines and headed home. I dutifully put all my purchases away like a good boy. I straightened the kitchen, rinsed a few dishes left over from breakfast and gave the countertops a quick spritz. I had done a good job and was ready for my reward... hot dogs!
I opened a pack and knew at once I had made a mistake. The smooth texture that once graced the OMBF was gone. In it's place was a rough, unfamiliar texture. This, however, was a small shock compared to the sheer displeasure I experienced when I bit into the hot dog. The old dogs were virtually unyielding to my bite. These new impostors offered resistance! As if they didn't want to be eaten! Not only that, but the smooth, whipped, almost creamy, meat texture inside was gone altogether. Now, inside my mouth, the little individual bits of meat were not even trying to work together. not only that, but there was a little hard chunk of something in there. For lack of a better word, blecch!
But if you think that's bad, the fried ones were worse! See, I usually eat five at a time. One raw while the others cook. As my brain was trying to wrap itself around the offensive taste in my mouth, my nose was sending alarm signals to it. Something was burning. Something that shouldn't have been burning. Something bad.
As many of you know, I'm a longhair. I thought perhaps an errant strand fell too close to the burner on the stove, but this was not the case. It was the hot dogs! As they popped and sizzled in the pan, the odor of burning hair was wafting up from them. And a hint of burning plastic, as well. It wasn't strong, but it was strong enough to notice. Imagine wrapping one of those little green toy army men with a few strands of hair and aiming a magnifying glass at it under the hot summer sun. It was disturbing, to say the least. There is a constant in the meat world, and that is, "Fire makes it good." With the new OMBF, fire makes it nauseating.
So I did some digging. According to DelawareOnline, Kraft Foods, OM's parent company, has changed the beef frank in order to compete with rival Sara Lee's Ball Park Franks. The new product, labeled "Premium" is touted as having no artificial flavors, colors, fillers or by-products. Unfortunately, it contains no taste, flavor or enjoyment, either. This is compounded by the fact that Mario Lopez has been signed as the celebrity spokesman for the new beef franks. A crappy fourth tier semi-celebrity for a crappy product.
Bad move Kraft. In your bid for hot dog domination, you have essentially chased me, and many others, straight to the competition. This brainless move can only be compared to that of Coca-Cola when they rolled out New Coke and consigned their original recipe to the trash bin. And we all know how well that worked out, don't we?
Some time ago, when I was enjoying some OMBF's at work, a vegetarian co-worker asked me how my snout was. "Excuse me?" Her reply, "Snout, Michael, you're eating snout. And hoof, and colon, and bone." It was one of her little anti-meat tirades and I was prepared for it. I replied that if it weren't for hot dogs, people would eat more hamburger, or steak, or bacon, and that would mean more animals slaughtered, and all those leftover parts would have to be put somewhere. As I saw it, hot dog eaters were doing their part to cut down on slaughter and keep the landfills free of nasty animal bits. To my surprise, after some thought, she agreed and I was given her blessing to eat all the hot dogs I wanted. I still plan to do so, but they most assuredly will not be made by Oscar Meyer. Looks like I'm heading to the Ball Park.