The polls have closed, and you have chosen your clear winner for favorite hot dog chili brand.
And the winner is…
Well, hang on.
The results of the survey I posted last month are as follows:
22.6% said they do not eat chili dogs. Well, you may be somewhat healthier for that decision, but my goodness! you are missing out on a real treat.
25.8% said they do not have a favorite brand of hot dog chili. Okay, fair enough. Variety is the Spice Girl of Life, I’m sure.
Now, taking the remainder of those who voted (51.6% to be precise) as a separate sample by itself, here are the results of the favorite hot dog chili brand. And it wasn’t even close.
31.3% — Texas Pete Chili Sauce. (Never mind that this brand hasn’t been made in well over a year. Or that it did not contain one speck of meat. See “The Winner… but,” below.)
12.5% — Wolf Brand Chili Hot Dog Sauce. “Since 1895” (Contains beef broth and “rendered beef fat,” but no other meat at all. It also contains pinto beans, so I almost disqualified this brand!)
6.3% — (The following brands tied for third place. They are in alphabetical order.)
- Amy’s Organic Vegan Chili (Contains red beans and tofu.)
- Bunker Hill Hot Dog Chili Sauce (Bunker Hill puts out two different types — Bunker Hill Hot Dog Chili Sauce which contains beef fat and soy and no other meat. and Bunker Hill Chili (no beans) which contains beef.)
- Bush’s Homestyle Chili No Beans (Seasoned ground beef is listed second in its ingredients. PORK warning: contains “rendered bacon fat and cooked bacon.” Never mind, though, as this item also appears to be discontinued by the manufacturer.)
- Campbell’s Chunky Chili “Hold the Beans” Beef Chili (PORK warning: even though the name on the can says “Beef Chili,” the second ingredient listed is “seasoned cooked beef and pork crumble.”)
- Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce (Did you know that Manwich contains absolutely no meat, and that the second listed ingredient is high fructose corn syrup?)
- Patterson’s Beef Hot Dog Chili (First ingredient: beef. “Patterson’s Hot Dog Chili continues to use the same recipe today as was developed by the Patterson’s family in 1942.”)
- Tony Packo’s Hot Dog Sauce with Beef (Beef is the first ingredient. Water is second.)
- Vienna Beef Bistro Chili Dog Chili (All-beef. Wonderful seasonings. See “My Personal Favorite” below.)
- Zack’s Hot Dog Chili (This famous Burlington, NC, restaurant’s all-beef chili recipe was created by the original Zack Touloupas. They sell it there in both pints and quarts.)
AND NOW, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
The Winner… but No Longer Available
Texas Pete Chili Sauce for hot dogs clearly has a strong following. I sent out news of the survey to many family and friends in Central North Carolina, and (like me) they would all have grown up on Texas Pete Hot Sauce. I doubt there are very many native Tar Heels who don’t keep a bottle of it in their pantry. (Ingredients: peppers, vinegar, salt; an Eastern North Carolina staple)
Unfortunately, the TW Garner Food Co. of Winston-Salem, NC, announced over a year ago that it had stopped making their Hot Dog Chili Sauce “in order to focus resources on the company’s core product offerings and the development of some exciting new products.” Translation from corporate-speak, please?
So it may be the favorite of 31.3% of those who voted a choice, but at this point it lives on only in one of their better dreams.
One addendum:There had been a rumor that TW Garner sold the recipe to another company, who wanted to market it under its own brand name. Here are the facts; you decide. TW Garner announced in May 2015 that they were no longer going to make their hot dog Chili Sauce. Skip forward to the beginning of 2016, and the announcement from Boone Brands (of Sanford, NC; makers of Patterson’s Beef Hot Dog Chili listed above) that they would be releasing a new product in time for Memorial Day: Texas Tailgate Chili Sauce. That product hit the stores, and you can judge who they were trying to imitate by comparing their cans (red cowboys & lariats, anyone?) and their ingredients:
TEXAS PETE CHILI SAUCE: Water, Soy Grits, Tomato Paste, Spices, Natural Flavor, Sugar, Salt, Distilled Vinegar, Caramel Color, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (Salt, Caramel Color, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Onion Powder, Xanthan Gum, Garlic Powder, Soy Lecithin.
TEXAS TAILGATE CHILI SAUCE: Water, soy grits, tomato paste (tomatoes), dark chili powder (chili pepper, cumin, oregano, salt, silicon, dioxide, garlic). Lard type flavor (interesterified soybean oil, natural flavors), distilled vinegar (diluted with water, natural flavor, caramel coloring). Hot sauce (aged cayenne red peppers, distilled vinegar, water, salt, garlic powder). Sugar, salt, brown sugar, smoked paprika, onion power, xanthan gum, lecithin oil (liquid soya lecithin). Garlic powder, black pepper.
I created this Hot Dog Chili survey for one reason only.
I had just found a chili that I thought to be the very best I had ever eaten. (My wife will verify that, on my first bite of it, I was moaning in gustatory delight!) It was a brand I had never heard of before, and so I wondered if similar-minded people as myself also had a favorite that might be even better. Surveys & Statistics in pursuit of the greatest chili dog ever. Sounds about right.
You were gracious enough to tell me your favorite(s), so here’s mine. It’s called Vienna Beef Chili Dog Chili, made by the Vienna Beef Hot Dog company of Chicago. Its founders, Austrian-Hungarian immigrants Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany, first sold their hot dogs at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It’s said that over 27 million people attended the Exposition, and undoubtedly many of them became fans of Emil and Sam’s wonderful fare. They built their first store the next year on South Halsted Avenue, and they have been a Chicago (now national) legend ever since.
So I rely on two restaurants near me — BurgerFi ($4.97 for a single chili dog) and Freddy’s ($3.59) — to satisfy my Vienna Beef Chili Dog Chili craving. And that’s fine, as they are both great places to eat — despite the fact that both chains are primarily famous for their burgers. (Personal opinion: the french fries and other side dishes at BurgerFi are far superior to those at Freddy’s.) If you click on the Vienna Beef Chili logo above, it will take you to an interactive U.S. map, where you can input your zip code and find all the restaurants in your area that serve Vienna Beef products. I highly recommend it!
So that you will know what you’re eating, here are the ingredients of the Vienna Beef Chili Dog Chili:
VIENNA BEEF CHILI DOG CHILI: Beef, water, tomato paste, onions, seasongins (corn flour, spices, dehydrated onion, textured soy and corn protein, garlic powder, paprika), chili seasoning (paprika, chili pepper, spices, salt, garlic powder, silicon dioxide added to prevent caking), modified food starch, textured vegetable protein (soy protein concentrate, caramel color), barley flour, salt, brown sugar, cayenne pepper.
You may be wondering, as I did, about how all these brands vary by cost. Never fear; I’ve done the work for you. Based on research at local Walmart, Food Lion, Kroger, and Harris Teeter stores, combined with Amazon.com, here are the best and/or average comparable prices (retail, converted to cost-per-ounce) that I could find for these brands: