Ball Park brand hot dogs are as American as …….Germany. At least according to Wikipedia, when the Detroit Tigers issued a competitive challenge for companies to come up with an exclusive Tigers frank, a Frankfurt, Germany company called Hygrade won the competition, became ensconced at Tiger stadium and the “legend” grew from there.
Ball Park became a solid American brand when Hygrade was purchased by Sara Lee in 1989, on the company’s quest to move from the grocer’s bakery shelf to the meat counter for their primary revenue stream.
Some Sara Lee meats ended up domiciled at Hillshire Farms, which now is in the midst of being acquired by Tyson. That’s a long journey for a simple weenie.
According to some web sources, Ball Park is America’s best selling brand, having toppled Oscar Meyer for the title. Their marketing slogan is “So American you can taste it,” which is pretty funny considering the original recipe was German. They could say “As American as Aldi,” maybe.
I picked up a package of Ball Park Angus Beef Franks from the scratch and dent section at my grocery, where they were discounted to $2. As all of my favorite and preferred brands are hovering around $5 now, which pretty much works out to a buck a dog, this seemed like a deal. Tho my personal preference is always for natural casing dogs, skinless will do in a pinch, and specifically under two situations at my house: cut up into a beans and weenie meal, or charred to perfection on a grill. Charring a skinless gives you a pretty adequate illusion of a casing and ‘snap.’
The ingredient list of the Ball Park Angus frank reads: ANGUS BEEF, WATER, CORN SYRUP, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS: SALT, POTASSIUM LACTATE, FLAVORINGS, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM DIACETATE, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), EXTRACTIVES OF PAPRIKA, SODIUM NITRITE.
My critique? First of all, I’m gonna call “bullshit” on any company that puts “Angus” on their label or in their marketing as something like 80% of the cattle raised in the US are Angus, so BFD. If it was “certified black Angus,” now that’s a real thing. Marketers lately have all taken a class in how to exploit the word “Angus” just like they mistakenly often use the word “Kobe” on menus. Probably “truffle” should be another one to watch for, as long as you are scrutinizing menus.
The lion’s share of grocery hot dogs are precooked. sometimes in the package, sometimes not. In regards to Ball Park, I’d prefer if they had a smokier flavor, and did away with the corn syrup as an ingredient. I see no reason for hot dogs, a product that naturally should fit into the “savory” category, to have a sweetener as an ingredient; and you can taste the sugar in these.
Would I buy them again? Well, if they were on sale and going to be used for either of the two aforementioned preps. With the corn syrup, I think they’d do well in beans and weenies. But today I just put a slight char on them and nestled them into a bun. Meh.
Postscript: Tried these a second day in a row, and no matter the toppings or condiments, I can’t shake that sugar taste. Just not appealing to me, but probably ‘addictive’ to kids.
Ball Park Franks Angus Review