This summer has belonged to savory ice cream. For those of you who have ever thought, “I want something that will cool me off in the summer sun and also tastes like dinner,” I hope you are living it up—this is your moment! Umami dairy is everywhere you look, from Grey Poupon pints to mayonnaise-flavored scoops to ice cream that tastes like Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles.
Enter the “Cold Dog” from stage left, a collaboration between iconic wiener purveyor Oscar Mayer and Popbar, an artisanal popsicle store. The cold dog takes its place among this year’s intriguing, if not gag-inducing, frozen novelties. Oscar Mayer’s press release described the item as a “frozen pop flavored like the beloved Oscar Mayer wiener.”
marketing gimmick product is part of the brand’s “Stupid or Genius” campaign, “focused on all the wonderfully odd ways to enjoy the iconic wiener beyond grilling,” per the press release. A cursory glance at the comments section of Oscar Mayer’s social media pages will show that most people believe the Cold Dog to fall into the former category. But there’s nothing wrong with being stupid! Stupidity moves empires.
I will admit I did not know, walking into the suburban food court pavilion, what to expect in the slightest. The hot dog popsicle had a simple tagline on the plastic packaging: “Like a hot dog, but cold.” Not illuminating at all!
The first bite made it clear to me that the cold dog is, at least mostly, a chocolate ice cream bar. Where it diverges from ice cream is the aftertaste, which is distinctly meat-flavored, combining the taste and smell of biting into a freshly grilled frankfurter. I would say the cold dog is 8 parts chocolate ice cream to 2 parts hot dog. This combination of flavors is not flat-out bad. However, it is difficult to continue eating. It left me wanting pure chocolate ice cream, without that pesky aftertaste of tubed meat.
Something that really made me excited for the cold dog was an advertised “swirl of mustard,” a delightful yellow squiggle that seemed to signal Oscar Mayer was really going for it. However, the “mustard” was not mustard; it was a candy coating shaped and colored to look like yellow mustard. I do wish that it was mustard-flavored mustard, just to see what the overall effect would be. If you are going to make an ice cream that has an aftertaste of sausage, why not just go for it with some real mustard topping or flavoring? Let’s commit to the bit, Oscar Mayer! (The Museum of Ice Cream wasn’t afraid to offer mustard atop soft serve, after all.)
The best part of the Cold Dog is the presentation, which is undeniably special. It really does look like a hot dog with mustard on it, and I hope that many people are tricked by its whimsical appearance into taking a nice big bite.
My greatest fear going into this taste test was that this popsicle would somehow consist of the hot dog water that accompanies a pack of franks, frozen into a novel shape. This was better, but not much better. As it turns out, it is jarring—and a bit sickening—for hot dogs and chocolate to be so buddy-buddy. These two flavors are tentpoles of summer, a perfect entree and dessert at any cookout. Together though, they fight each other. The chocolate can’t stretch out and be chocolate with the heavy wiener flavor butting in. Maybe you didn’t need to read an internet article to know this, but they just don’t work together. It is, in fact, incredibly stupid.
That said, at just $2 each, these novelty items are pretty reasonably priced, so feel free to give them a try while supplies last, if you live near a Popbar location. I’m sure you’ve done stupider, right?