August 28, 2009

Lightlife Smart Dogs, first try


The new product to test is Lightlife Smart Dogs. I knew this was going to be a tough sell, as I'm really picky about my hot dogs. My favorite is the Schweigert All Beef Wieners (hee hee - wieners!) with natural casing, in case anyone wanted to know. For me, hot dogs are serious business. So I went in to this with pretty low expectations.

First off, the package says you can either boil them or microwave them. My usual MO is to microwave my hot dogs ("until they scream" - my kitchen is a fun place), so that's what I did. Since my plan was to slice them up and mix them into some macaroni and cheese (yum!), I took 3 dogs out of the package and threw them onto a plate. The package said 30 seconds per dog, but my microwave is pretty buff, so I went with one minute total.

Before I get to what happened there, I must describe my first impressions of this item. As soon as I tore open the package, I encountered a rather unpleasant odor. One which I'm sure I must get used to, if I'm going to be using lots of soy-based products. It kind of smelled like soy sauce, which really makes sense. (I later smelled a regular hot dog - to be fair, it also smelled weird, but it got better after I cooked it)

Okay - after a minute in the microwave, the bottoms of the dogs had sort of blistered, in a rather unappealing way, but this is sort of part of the microwaved hot dogs experience, so I went ahead. It still smelled like it did right out of the package, which was a little disappointing. They were very hot, and I used my knife to cut off a chunk. It was super rubbery, and actually took two tries to get through the top part of the skin. Once I got a bite-sized chunk separated from the rest of the dog, I took a good look at it. It was orange. Very orange. In discussions following this experience, I was reminded that the pink of standard hot dogs is chemically enhanced, but still... couldn't they have worked a little harder to get that nice chemically pink in these? Orange! I steeled myself and popped it into my mouth.

The experience:
Texture - Very rubbery, which didn't improve during the chewing.
Flavor - It tasted like it smelled, kind of soy-sauce-ish

I fed a piece to my wife as well, and she agreed with the foulness of this experience. Luckily, we had a regular beef hot dog in the fridge, so our dinner wasn't completely ruined, but we threw out the Smart Dogs. Next time, I will try boiling them to see if that improves the experience. See what happens here.

Final grade for this attempt: F

18 comments:

  1. I'm not even certain exactly how to classify the flavor of these hot dogs... it's like they were drenched in fake hickory flavor or something similar. Pretty awful!

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    1. I heard that they have become MUCH better now. However, I haven't tried one yet since the last time I threw them out (about 2 years ago)

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  2. with a hefty dose of shame, I have to admit that I'm never without a pack of these in my freezer. I prep them by cutting a few little nicks into the dogs on each side, plopping them on a paper towel, with a nother paper towel on top, and nuking for about 20 seconds. They really don't need much time and will only get more rubbery the more they cook. you just want em warm. I like them on a toasted hot dog bun covered with mustard and relish, or sliced up in vegan mac n cheese (make sure to coat em thoroughly with the sauce, though)
    They're worthless on they're own, but perfectly fine as filler in other treats where you can drown em out with condiments.

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  3. Blech... these things are nasty.

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  4. Right there with you, Jack. :)

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  5. You should really try "loma linda" brand "veja-links." they come in a can and are best prepared (imo)fried in a skillet with a little oil. the rest of these tofu dogs are terrible in comparison (except the corn dog varieties). trust me on this...i've been eating and preparing them for years and no other brand compares.

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  6. I remember these fake dogs being pretty nasty back in the day. I believe they have since been reformulated though. The box says you can grill them now, too (I deep fried a few after seeing something on FOODTV about deep-fried dogs with deep-fried bacon - absolutely delicious!) If you run out of ideas for future posts, you might want to give these a fresh shot. I can't say that I would recommend just chopping off a piece and eating it plain, though; that's just nasty, even with real hot dogs.

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  7. I had high hopes for these but they are really bad. They are rubbery and, as others have already mentioned, they do have an off-putting aroma. The package says they should be eaten within 3-5 days after opening. I ate one or two and sealed the rest in a resealable plastic bag. I checked on them after 2 days and the dogs were covered with slime! It was so gross! Needless to say, I tossed them immediately.

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  8. WELL. I think that every one, forgot the big thing. THIS IS VEGAN. and as a former meat eater ( and meat lover), I will tell you, vegan is all about ADDING flavors to the soy,wheat or whatever fake meat you are cooking with. with that being said, these dogs are for GRILLING. I mean, brush them with OLIVE oil, and then coat with BBQ SAUCE.Or marinate in BBQ sauce then girl. Soy is a flavor sponge, so these come " raw", in that sense. DO NOT BOIL OR NUKE. Vegan foods, are usually ruined by such processes. Vegan is best served for stir-fry,frying and grilling ( charcoal best, then gas with lava rocks). But honestly, go with the vegan sausage links for a "hot dog" stand in. You will fair much much better.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions. I too was a meat eater/lover but am vegan now. I wanted an alternative to the Nathan's hot dogs I used to get. I'll try grilling some. :-)

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  9. This is why I steered clear of faux-meat altogether when I first became a vegetarian. For 5 months, I was ovo-lacto-veggie, and then I went out and got these hot dogs (craving sauerkraut and hot dogs since the weather got nice) and let me tell you, I thought they tasted just like regular hot dogs - my taste buds had been without meat long enough to have no memory of the original stuff. Point being, skip any fake meat for a long time to try and "reset" your taste buds; I've come to think of non-meats as their own food, not a substitution. Good review, though! I fried my smart dogs with eggs and veggies for a nice scramble, good flavor :)

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  10. I'm the hotdog king! Ok ppl!!! Lol. I tried these over the weekend, nervous! For sure but I'm very pleased with these. I boiled them and I'm a happy camper! I cannot wait to grill some next time! Bye bye gmo cancer causing dogs!

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  11. I love them and have eaten them for years! I boil them- do not boil too long and they are delicious. I am a vegetarian and this fits right into my menu! I would boil them rather than microwave them. They are very good!

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  12. Is Tracy still alive? Smart Dogs taste amazing when combined with all the fixings, like dill relish, coarse mustard, and ketchup. If she's still relapsing into the full-fat, high-cholesterol coma, how depressing.

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  13. I have tried these and they're pretty awful! I've been a vegetarian for weeeelll I guess 2 and 1/2 years and got to feeling run-down from not eating healthy and not having enough protein (My own fault, I just got lazy about it!) so I bought these a couple of months ago. I was so hungry I had way too many off them, and they really do get repulsive after a while. Have been having two a day for a couple of days- the only way to make them in this house is by boiling in the microwave, which I'm sure contributed to their taste (of rubber and sort of bland). :[ It's weird that I remember as a child being somewhat fond of hot dogs and bologna, but now I'm realizing that probably had more to do with the fun activities that involves those foods- little league games and picnics and bologna sandwiches while home alone. Hmm.. maybe I should start avoid fake-meat anyways...

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  14. I think these things are great. They taste really similar to hot dogs, and i think they looked just like them too. My only complaint is the price. Other than that, I love these things. They are made from GMO free soy as well.

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  15. They are kinda iffy on their own, but they are AMAZING when prepared properly: sauteed in a HOT cast iron skillet with a bit of coconut oil, till they become brown and a bit blistered, like a real restaurant-style griddled hot dog would be. Served on a soft bun with homemade vegan mayo, ketchup, mustard, and heaps of sauerkraut. My husband, now vegan for just 3 weeks, is in HEAVEN over his lunch! And he's a man who grew up on hot dogs (including his favorite dish by his mom: with scrambled eggs and corn tortillas).

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  16. These were pretty bad all around. Texture and taste was awful even when using lots of mustard, which I love.

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