Just As Tasty As the Real Thing

Yesterday we celebrated the girl-child’s birthday. She turned 15 in August, but whatever. Better late than pregnant, I always say.  And besides, my niece hit her 18th two weeks ago, so our par-tay was something of a joint hoo-ha.  We marked the occasions with a family get-together around a campfire, complete with weenie roast, which seemed like a good idea.

Fall was made for roasting hot dogs over a fire, flames warming cheeks and hands, smoke permeating clothing with its delicious aroma. One tiny problem. Girl-child became a vegetarian when she was ten. No hot dogs for her. I know what you’re thinking. She will grow up deprived and twisted if she does not experience such important traditions as weenie roasts. Never fear. Mom to the rescue! Or as Squish would say it “To the wrecks-you!” In this case, I think his version is closer to right.

I did what any mom would do. I bought her some veggie dogs. It took some doing. I learned that there are many choices in the veggie dog category. You’ve got your Smartdogs, your Morningstar farms, and the entire Tofurky family. I finally settled on one brand, vaguely reassured by the label boasting the words “Now roastable!” Which according to spell check isn’t even a word. Spell check, you win.

They look like hot dogs. They feel like hot dogs. They don’t cook like hot dogs. Here’s what a weenie should look like.


Note the beautiful and even charring. So pretty. I can taste it now.


Not this.

I am reassured by the bubbly skin. Hot dogs should peel like that, too, right?


Note the even charring on the real dog. The veggie version looks like it has the pox. And the warnings on the label are pretty insistent that the vega-weenies don’t spend more than 6-7 minutes close to a flame. What it didn’t explain was why. Will an over-roasted vegadog merely taste bad or will it come to life and kill us all? I now suspect the latter.

Girl-child roasted her dog. And watched it bubble. Her grandmother generously offered to fix her a soy burger, but I am opposed to wasting food. I insisted that the kid at least try a bite before writing it off as inedible. She was thrilled.

I have to eat that? Really? You saw the bubbles, right?


Sadly, she was only able to take the one bite. The plate was knocked to the ground, and my mother’s dog, who is part cocker spaniel, part Great White shark and something of an opportunistic feeder, pounced and consumed the remainder. Slowly. And with much regret, the expression on her fuzzy face screaming “Oh, dear God! Why are you trying to kill me?”

So I had to try one. Of course. Because I am nothing if not stubborn. All I can say is Mmmm, yummy. The texture was reminiscent of custard wrapped in a latex balloon, and it tasted like paste. There’s not enough mustard and onion in the world to make that thing palatable.

There were good things that came out of this experience, however. The four-legged dog is no worse for the wear, and she may be forever cured of counter-surfing. And the Not-dogs come five to a package, so there are three left. Any takers?


46 thoughts on “Just As Tasty As the Real Thing

  1. I’ve tried veggie hot dogs. I was not impressed. If I’m going to indulge, I’m going for the real thing. I can’t square my love of hot dogs and sausage with my aversion to most meats – I guess it must be some endorphin-producing quality they’ve managed to include in hot dogs. Heavenly.

  2. We’re always looking for meatless alternatives for my sister-in-law. She is a vegan, which makes feeding her challenging. I am already stressing over Thanksgiving, because she is a bird-lover too. And quite vocal. So far I have managed 26 Turkey Days without once saying “Who the HELL invited you?”

    364 Days of the year I really really like her …

  3. My husband is a vegetarian, so I have tried a LOT of Not-Dogs. The best so far is Lightlife’s Smart Sausages, Smoked style “Made with Natural Smoke.” I haven’t tried them over a fire yet, though, just in the skillet. They are the only veggie dogs I have ever had that actually taste like a proper hot dog and don’t do that weird bubble thing.

    Your daughter looks so sad! But her braid is gorgeous. She looks like a pinterest hair model 😀

  4. One of the reasons I’m a vegetarian is a natural strong aversion to meat, so I’m actually not a big fan of meat substitutes, generally. My husband, on the other hand, is vegetarian for 100% ethical reasons and he misses meat terribly, so he’s constantly trying fake meats. The truth is that most fake meat products are pretty awful. Veggie dogs in particular. If you are going to get them, go for the tofurkey ones. They actually taste pretty good. That said, they are still very processed, so eating them regularly is a bit like eating hotdogs regularly from a health standpoint.

    • Agreed. They’re definitely not health food. We actually rarely use a meat substitute. For cost reasons as well as the fact that I’m not sold on feeding a kid too much soy. We eat a lot of beans in our house.

  5. Pingback: Destinations « Luggaged

  6. Haha. The veggie dog doesn’t look that weird to me. But I’m always eating weird veggie and turkey substitute for red meat foods. Couldn’t live without turkey dogs, turkey bacon, and tofu salami (there are probably more clever names for all these foods).

    • I love turkey substitutes! I planned to buy bacon one day, then I chickened out and came home with turkey bacon because it’s lower in fat.

  7. Some of this “supposed-to-be-good-for-you stuff” is just awful. I made some Kale chips this summer. Supposed to be very healthy and indistinguishable from potato chips. Ugh. Indistinguishable from licking an ashtray maybe.

  8. Love the picture of your daughter too. One because she doesn’t look her 15 years (i.e. no cosmetically enhanced maturity attempts – kudos!), and two because of her Jack Skellington shirt-and-cardi combination. Adorable!

    As for the not-dogs – one more reason why I don’t think I could ever be a vegetarian. Although I admire people who are…

  9. My son is a vegetarian. Thankfully he left home before he converted. I admit that I am now more knowledgeable about tofu, lentils and chick pea flour, and even like vegetarian dishes but I am also an unashamed meat eater. Just on principle (my son’s) I would have had to convert if he was living with me. Now, I just have to invite him over for the occasional vegetarian meal. Everyone is happy. PS. those sausages are disgusting. They are meant to be bought by well-meaning but ignorant civilians. Vegetarians know better and stay away from them. 🙂

  10. Poor doggie. Expecting to taste the salty preservative filled goodness of a lost hot dog only to get a big surprise. I wonder how the dog would rank the veggie dog vs bunny poo?

  11. Love the pic–if that’s not a 15 year old expression, I don’t know what is.
    And I have to chime in on kale chips: definitely NOT like potato chips, but pretty yummy!

  12. OMG – You actually elicited a very real ‘out loud’ laugh at 6:51 a.m. before my coffee has actually hit my system. The vision of the dog pouncing then slooowly realizing what it actually spent all that energy on is hilarious! I’m following you now – because apparently I want to almost drown on a swig of coffee whilst reading more often.

  13. ugh… yeah… the disadvantage of vegetarianism would definitely be all the meat replacements that are ‘just like the real thing’. we had spaghetti on a camping trip made with some sort of faux-ground-beef once… now I know what cardboard simmered in tomato sauce tastes like.

  14. Boca Brats were my favorite but they stopped making them years ago. I have really great success making my own “sausages” for the occasions where putting something fire roasted on a bun and slathered in ketchup and mustard is necessary. http://www.theppk.com/2012/01/vegan_sausage/ this is the best recipe ever and you know what the ingredients are.

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