Fast Food Review: The New York Dog from Sonic
First of all, let me get this out of the way: I object to the fact that “New York” always has to mean “New York City.” I don’t have anything against the Big Apple aside from it’s crappy traffic and baseball teams, but c’mon, get over yourself already. To me, the son of two born and bred Buffalo natives, “New York” means a lot more than just the country’s biggest city. Once more, if you talk to me about a “New York” dog, I’m thinking back to what really is the only hot dog I’ve ever known – The classic, all-beef Sahlen’s hot dog, cooked over a chargrill at one of several Ted’s locations in Western New York. It’s charred, crispy, and served with Ted’s famous red-hots, it makes the ultimate in summer day lunches.
So I was skeptical when Sonic rolled out four brand new hot dogs this month, questioning whether or not the new “premium beef” dogs would be any good. I mean, how “premium” can a hot dog be anyways, especially at a fast food drive-in? At the end of the day it’s still a fatty piece of processed meat shoved in between a bun with some condiments, right? Well, according to Sonic, it ain’t, especially when it comes to the “classic” flavors of the New York Dog:
A 100% pure beef hot dog grilled to perfection and topped with spicy brown mustard, grilled onions and crunchy sauerkraut in a soft, warm bakery bun.
Not gonna lie: this seems like an interesting concept. No, I’ve never experienced an actual New York dog from the streets of NYC, but if I was going to give one of these Sonic dogs a try, I figured it might as well be the one that doesn’t come with the alien goo looking relish (Chicago) or the standard ketchup, relish and mustard (All-American). So I tried to keep an open mind - Ted’s prejudices and all - and made the walk down to Sonic on a cold and rainy day out here in Utah for a lite lunch.
(Sidenote: I love the concept of a drive-in, but gee-golly, I wish Sonic could get some indoor seating in it’s cold weather locations. Northern Utah, as I have said before, is like Hoth. A nice hamburger or hot dog is peachy on a sunny day outside a fast food place, but amidst a rain-snow mix? Please Sonic, help a car-less brother out! Anyways, the first thing I noticed about the dog was the heat. It steamed the viewing panel on it’s little container sleeve, which oh by the way looks like something a Stormtrooper MRE would come in. There were some gimmicky and hyperbolic marketing buzzwords on the package, which almost made me consider how pathetic I was for being the only guy at the place. Nevertheless, the toppings were plentiful enough, and a discernible aroma and steam came from the hot dog.
The first thing to go wrong was the bun. It wasn’t “bakery fresh” by any means. One side has a decent pillow of softness, but the other was almost rock hard. It’s as if someone had let half the bun stale, and the first bite into said part of the hot dog was a total letdown. As you can see, the hot dog itself it dwarfed by the bun and the toppings. Thankfully, those toppings provide good flavor, and the dog itself was surprisingly pleasing. Not crispy on the outside or smokey like my beloved Ted’s, but it had a modest snap and a mildly sweet, beefy flavor that, remarkably, didn’t came across as Bar-S like in processed taste. The mustard was mildly spicy, but kinda weak. The mustard did have a whole grainy zing to it which worked well with the caramelized onions, which really added good flavor. The Kraut wasn’t overpowering or too watery, although the one-two combo of mustard and kraut won’t be pleasing to those who like sweet relish on their hot dogs. It definitely is a savory dog, but it doesn’t come across as overly salty or fake, and the chewy interior of the hot dog wasn’t bad at all.
I do wish it was a bit bigger though: I chomped through mine in only a few restrained bites. At $1.99 for just the hot dog it’s not a bad deal, but it falls more in the snack category if not paired with a side and drink. Health-wise you could do a lot worse for 350 calories, and even though it’s small, it has enough punch to tide you over for a few hours. I’d favor a more distinctive snap on the casing and smoke flavor, but hey, for a fast food item it comes across as pretty good. My really big complaint then is the bun. Eating a stale bun is never good eats, especially when you have a fairly messy and wet condiment package. Other minor complaints would be the lack of heat and relatively modest dog to bun ratio, but like I said, for $1.99, you could do worse. If you’re a savory hot dog fan I’d recommend giving this particular dog a try, and if not, you totally need to get your behind up to Buffalo and get to Ted’s. And yes, that means you too, Murray.
Pros: Innovative design for major fast food chain. All beef hot dog doesn't taste like Bar-S "product." Grilled onions have nice formalizations and sweetness. Dog itself is surprisingly beefy. Stormtrooper MRE, 'nuff said. Not having to hear Keith complain about skipping on the white sauce.
Cons: Total Bun failage. Sonic discriminating against car-less college students. Less than stellar snap in dog. Could use a little more heat. Good source of NaCl and a whole bunch of stuff people would probably tell me isn't great for my body.
Grubbing on-the-go: 5.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 7.00 (Decent)
More Info: SonicDriveIn.com
Sonic New York Dog
Fat: 19 g
Saturated Fat: 7 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 40 mg
Sodium: 1290 mg
Total Carbs: 32 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugar: 4 g
Protein: 14 g