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The Sensory Side of Hot Dogs

Once again, it is time for football! There will be many tailgate parties and backyard grilling going on for the upcoming season. Hot dogs will be one of the most popular choices on the grill. Let’s discuss just a few.sensory product testing

When asked if hot dogs are healthy or unhealthy, most testers feel that they are unhealthy. Of course the majority of consumers do not choose to buy hot dogs for their health benefits, although some are more healthy than others from a dietary standpoint. Why do consumers primarily eat hot dogs? When asked, nearly all consumers agree that hot dogs taste good. Notice some consumer descriptions of the most popular hot dogs, along with the ingredients of each.

The most popular choice among consumers is described as a perfect taste level of sweetness, beef, salt, garlic, and light flavoring. The ingredients are: beef, water, contains less than 2% of salt sorbotol, sodium lactate, natural flavorings, hydrolyzed corn protein, paprika, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite. 1 hot dog = 180 calories, 17g fat, 460mg sodium.

The second most popular choice among consumers is described as very skinny, very salty, having a good texture although overly chewy. Ingredients include: beef, water, salt, contains less than 2% of sorbitol, flavoring, potassium lactate, paprika, garlic powder, hickory smoke flavor, sodium dictate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite. 1 hot dog = 140 calories, 12g fat, 380mg sodium

The third most popular choice among consumers is described as having more of a sausage flavor with a spicy and soy sauce like taste. Spices were evident in most tests with the taste of crushed red peppers identified. Ingredients include: organic grass-fed beef, water, contains less than 2% of the following: sea salt, organic spices, organic dehydrated garlic and onion, organic paprika, celery powder. 1 hot dog = 110 calories, 8g fat, 330mg sodium

The fourth most popular choice among consumers is described as tasting very sweet, almost overly sweet, but most consumers feel it would be enjoyable with salty toppings. The ingredients are:  beef, water, contains less than 2% of salt, sorbitol, sodium lactate, natural flavorings, sodium phosphate, hydrolyzed corn protein, paprika, sodium dictate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite. 1 hot dog = 150 calories, 13g fat, 410mg sodium

The fifth most popular choice among consumers is described as a good hot dog but far too greasy. It was also found to be overly salty, gristly. The ingredients include beef, water, salt, paprika flavoring, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, and a sheep casing. 1 hot dog = 160 calories, 14g fat, 440mg sodium

For a certainty, ingredients in a hot dog will affect the taste just like any other food or beverage item. However, what consumers want in a hot dog is the perfect balance of sweetness, beef taste, salt and light flavoring. They do not want an overly salty, overly chewy, overly spicy, overly sweet, and certainly not overly greasy hot dog. There are many commonalities with the ingredients of less popular hot dogs when compared to more popular hot dogs. The concept of “less is more” seems to be a winner. There is no need to be overly fancy with the hot dog itself, as consumers prefer to adjust their individual palette by adding their own brand of condiments. Balanced ingredients in a hot dog will lead to a balanced taste without going to the extreme in any one direction while offering the most popular consumer choice.

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This article is free information from Contract Testing Inc., an established leader in sensory product research and consumer product research for the food, beverage, and (QSR) quick service restaurant industries throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more about the complete scope of product research services, please call 1-905-456-0783 or visit us online at www.contracttesting.com.