Dennis Lee of The Pizzle is back with another venture into the wilderness of fast food, this time to try new offerings from Burger King.
While Taco Bell has been trumpeting its newest culinary Frankenstein, the Quesalupa, from the mountaintops, Burger King quietly released its newest, surprisingly simple item: a humble hot dog. Not a cheese-wrapped, deep-fried hybrid mashup, just a plain old hot dog. There was some subtle advertising, including “leaked” training videos of Snoop Dogg and Charo, but otherwise, there wasn’t too much fuss about it.
The Burger King classic grilled dog (310 calories, 16g of fat)
This dog, made by Oscar Mayer, is topped with pickle relish, onions, mustard—and, yes, ketchup. Here in Chicago, the idea of having ketchup within 50 yards of a hot dog would be enough cause for the natives to torch the whole city down, but guys, relax. If you like ketchup on your hot dog, that’s fine with me. It’s just a tube steak.
I came in with a bad attitude, thinking I’d hate this hot dog, but you know what? It’s pretty good. If you’re craving a hot dog, it’ll certainly fill that wiener-sized hole in your mouth. The dog itself is smoky and dense, and it’s a little chewy in that cured and emulsified meat sort of way. The dogs are also slit slightly down the side, presumably to cook more quickly.
Those toppings work well. There’s not too much of any one topping, and diners will still be able to taste the meat of the dog. Most of the topping flavor you’ll get is sweet, mainly from the pickle relish and the ketchup, but the mustard adds sharpness and the onions add an acrid pop. So in essence, it’s a normal hot dog.
If there’s one thing wrong with this dog, it’s that the actual hot dog is a bit chewy and a little dry, but it’s no worse than most of the wieners served at baseball stadiums. I ate the whole thing, which is an unusual move for me—I’ve written about food for long enough that I’m okay taking just one bite of something and leaving the rest, but I enjoyed the hot dog so much I ate the whole thing.
Grade: B. Hey, Burger King did okay.
Burger King chili cheese grilled dog (330 calories, 19g of fat)
The idea of a Burger King chili cheese hot dog is more alarming to me. The hot dog is the same somewhat-chewy Oscar Mayer forcemeat (which is a fancy and vulgar-sounding term for ground meat mixed with fat), but I was more worried about the chili.
Rather than just being a meat-only sauce, the chili does have a few beans in it, which isn’t too distracting. It has your typical cumin-based spice flavoring as a base—nothing you haven’t had in a bowl of homemade chili before. But the real issue is the salt. This chili is salty to the point where I was making a funny squirmy face sitting in the corner booth by myself. If Burger King removed about a third of the salt (or more) from its chili recipe, this chili dog would be fine.
Grade: C-. They tried, but not very hard.
Burger King Extra Long Buttery Cheeseburger (710 calories, 47g of fat)
Does anything about the name “Extra Long Buttery Cheeseburger” sound appealing to you? Even saying those words to the cashier made me somehow feel dirty inside. I mean, when’s the last time you described a hamburger as “extra long”? The “buttery” idea is a little more forgivable. In Wisconsin, butter burgers are a real thing, but note that this is “buttery” and not just “butter.” To me that screams that fake flavoring has been added. Not that I’m surprised.
This hoagie-burger comes on a sesame seed roll. It’s topped with cheese, lettuce, onion, ketchup, and mayo, and somewhere in there is a “buttery garlic flavored sauce.”
I poked around under the hood. It’s a hot mess, as is to be expected. The anemic gray meat is chewy, dry, and flavored with smoke. I’ve noticed that Burger King consistently serves meat that is full of gristle. My Extra Long Buttery Cheeseburger also came overloaded with mayo, which, in this case, was enough to make me feel somewhat sick. After a few bites, I still couldn’t figure out what was supposed to be “buttery” until I lifted up one of the flaccid patties.
Turns out the bottom bun is doused in a nearly flavorless buttery garlic sauce. If you’ve ever had that garlic dipping sauce from Papa John’s, it’s pretty much the same thing. The garlic is faint, but it’s there, and it doesn’t add much at all except for extra grease. And after some nosing around in the Burger King nutrition facts, I found out that there is no butter in the sauce. It is, in fact, flavored soybean oil.
Grade: D-. All Burger King did was add extra no-reason calories and no flavor.
Burger King Dr Pepper shake (550 calories, 16g of fat in a large)
To finish off my culinary foray into hot dogs and fake butter, I tried the Dr Pepper Milkshake, which is only available for a limited time.
Before I tried it, a small part of me was appalled. I don’t drink much soda, but I do like Dr Pepper sometimes, and the idea of a Dr Pepper ice cream float doesn’t sound bad to me. For some reason, the idea of a Dr Pepper milkshake is more obscene. I guess it’s because fast food chains like to ruin things that people love.
The first sip tastes like vanilla. So does the second. After the third, there’s a slight hint of that sharp Dr Pepper pop, but it’s faint. It’s the aftertaste where you notice the Dr Pepper, and not in a bad way—it’s just so minimal, a blind taste-tester would struggle to discern what flavor the shake is. Perhaps I didn’t get much syrup in my milkshake, but still, it’s not bad. It’s not amazing, either. I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d order it again.
Grade: C. I’m not sure what BK was aiming for, but it wasn’t horrible.
The moral of the story is that if you’re craving a standard-issue hot dog, the Burger King version will do you just fine. The other stuff is a little confused. But this is fast food, so that’s no surprise.