I grew up in Chicago, the nation's hot dog capital. And as a Chicagoan, I am a McDonald's loyalist—in fact, I went there alarming frequency as a child, though I somehow managed to avoid getting physically supersized.
In any event, I have always viewed Burger King with a certain degree of suspicion, their diverse ideal of a Kid's Club not withstanding.
So it was with great intrigue that I read the announcement that *Burger* King was going to start experimenting with hot dogs. For reasons that remain mysterious to all fast-food consumers, the major chains have always avoided serving hot dogs, despite their obvious longstanding, though now evolving, obliviousness to the content of the meat they serve.
Now residing in Florida, where Burger King was born, and with fast-food as a nominal part of my beat, I had to try them.
I'll cut to the chase: Not only did I survive, but I would eat them again if forced to. Ok, one of them.
As I expected, it was no problem finding a BK serving hot dogs in Florida. Here's what their in-store campaign looks like. It's actually a bit confusing: Do you get two hot dogs with one order, or are these the two kinds of dogs served? I'd have to find out.
Once inside, I realized how hard BK is pushing the dogs—they are now the most prominently displayed item on the flame-grilled menu.
They are also on the aprons of the servers.
So it turns out there are two kinds of dogs, which you order one at a time: Chili Cheese and Classic. I opted, at first, for Classic. With fries and a drink, the total came to $4.49.
A classic Chicago dog is served with
- Celery salt
And absolutely no ketchup.
The BK Classic dog only scored a 3 out of 7 on this criteria, but this is corporate fast food, so I forgave them for foregoing expenses that would have undoubtedly priced out of of their target consumer's range.
I couldn't do anything about the ketchup, so I tucked in. The meat is advertised as 100% beef, and I could not discern the presence of anything too out of the ordinary. I ate the whole thing and felt fine afterward.
I was not prepared to eat two Burger King hot dogs in a row, so the Chili Cheese would have to wait. So a couple weeks later, the opportunity arose to try the it while on the road in Houston. The American chili dog was evidently created somewhere along the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border in the early part of the last century; that it has survived to 2016 is a testament to the bravery of the American eater.
I have to admit that I did not feel as good after eating this one. The dog may have been 100% beef, but there was no such guarantee for the chili itself. If you have no idea what you're looking at in the picture above, you're not alone.
If you're feeling adventurous, I can recommend the Classic. I'll take a faux-Chicago dog than a real gut bomb.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.