Believe it or not, the Market Basket brand NC dog is one of the best I have ever tasted for cooking at home. I don't know if they make it or if its a private label but nonetheless its really spectacular. It has a nice snap, its a perfect size and its spiced just right. Good Stuff!
I like the Pearl. It's a spicy (for New England)all beef dog. They make a 8/1, 6/1, 4/1, 2/1 and a 1lb. dog. The thing I find different with them is the casing. Most of the NC franks I've had have a lamb casing. I find the Pearl a thicker, tougher casing, may be hog casing?? They are also a thicker dog. I think you'd find them mild. Compared to other beef dogs I've tried, Hebrew National, Sabrett's they are nowhere near as spicy.
By the way, BJ's recently started to carry the Thumann's blue and white pack, 5 lbs for $17.49. These are one of my favorites when fresh, the ones I froze picked up a perfumy taste. It may have been my freezer or the way I packed them.
Speeds in Boston serves Pearl, and he simmers in apple juice and brown sugar before he grills them. I've tried this by putting a tray of apple juice, mixed with brown sugar and horseradish mustard on indirect heat on the grill with foil on top. When they come to the simmer I remove the foil and let them simmer until I'm ready to serve. Then I move them to the direct heat, directly on the grill grates and brown them. This makes the casings nice and snappy, but not chewy.
There is a local chain, The Halfway Cafe, that serves the 1lb. dog. It's called the Safari dog, named after the HotDog Safari, a local charity event. This is one big dog. They grill it and serve in a special roll, like a sub roll, with a pile of handcut fries for $7.95. A real bargain as long as you have time for a nap after lunch. http://www.thehalfwaycafe.com/ http://www.hotdogsafari.com/2006/index.asp
I buy the Pearl's at BJ's, but not all in my area carry them. When I asked the guy at the Westboro MA store why the Auburn MA store didn't carry them, he said they are not a warehouse item. Rather they are delivered by Pearl directly to the store. Recently the Auburn store started to carry them. They only sell a 2.5 lb. box, of 4/1. That's 10 dogs for $7.49.
If I ever make it to the NJ tour I'll bring you some.