We tried the trend.
Over the past decade, hot dogs have gradually gained the culinary respect they deserve, with innovative hot dog-focused eateries opening around the country. No longer pigeonholed as merely the back-up for when burgers run out at the BBQ, hot dogs are stars in their own right—and are being treated as such by chefs. As a lifelong lover of hot dogs and hot dog-adjacent foods (corn dogs, I see you), I'm always on the look-out for the latest in hot dog trends, news and controversies. (Yes, there are hot dog controversies, and, yes, they are explosive.)
On a recent afternoon, an Oscar Mayer representative sent me an email alerting me to a new innovation in the hot dog-eating space: putting peanut butter on hot dogs. The rep claimed it was a growing trend. I was shocked and confused, but mostly disappointed in myself for not having heard of the practice sooner. A quick search on Twitter proved that the peanut butter-topped hot dog was, in fact, a thing.
And the movement is not without its haters.
There was only one way to proceed—eat some peanut butter hot dogs and force my colleagues to, as well.
As a small crowd of tasters congregated in the conference room where I'd set up the test, the mood was uneasy. I took the first bite. It was ... really lovely. The buttery, sweet saltiness of the PB made a rich coating for the hot dog, which I realized, from a flavor perspective, shares many of the same qualities. The meat's oily warmth actually thinned the peanut butter, spreading out the nutty flavor and softening its intensity as it morphed into a thin sauce. "I like this," I shouted, and my colleagues began taking little nibbles. The feedback was reluctant, then overwhelmingly positive. Several people pointed out that peanut butter on hamburgers is already somewhat of a trope on bar menus, so this practice isn't that unusual. I think that helped us grow more comfortable with the premise of what were eating.
"It was good," one colleague said after the tasting. "I was skeptical at first, but then thought of all the savory peanut dishes and sandwiches I've had before, and I felt better about trying it. I think it could actually be really good with like a spicy slaw and scallions on top, too."
A vegetarian colleague, who watched in awed silence as we ate the dogs, said, "It felt like reality was being pulled out from under me. As each additional person said they enjoyed the hot dog my grasp on what I thought I knew about humanity slipped further and further away."
Try this at home and you, too, can feel like reality is being pulled out from under you. It's pretty delicious.