The Hot Dog Wars

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Foodbme
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2008/06/16 02:40:38 (permalink)

The Hot Dog Wars

CHICAGO - America's two largest hot dog makers are waging a wiener war as grills fire up this summer, hoping to win over customers and secure the No. 1 spot atop the stagnating frank market.

The latest round in the long-running feud comes as Kraft Foods Inc.'s Oscar Mayer brand gives its signature hot dog a makeover aimed at stealing momentum from Sara Lee Corp.'s Ball Park Franks.

Kraft hopes its reformulation ¡ª its first in 20 years for the all-beef hot dog ¡ª and a massive promotional campaign attract new customers and their palates with a zestier, meatier recipe.
"(Consumers are) continuing to look for higher flavors, beefier, juicier hot dogs and we saw that as an opportunity to grow that portion of our business," said Sean Marks, senior director of marketing for Oscar Mayer.

Both suburban Chicago food manufacturers claim the designation as the nation's top hot dog brand, based on separate readings of market research and sales data. Experts say the frank fight may become more difficult as the economy sours and hot dog consumption ¡ª at least among adults ¡ª hits its lowest level since the mid-1980s.

"You can say, at best, long-term, it's flat," said Harry Balzer, a vice president with research firm NPD Group. "(But) it's still a valuable market."

So valuable, in fact, that about 956 million packages of hot dogs were sold at U.S. retailers in the past year, according to data from The Nielsen Co. That's on top of the estimated 30 million hot dogs ¡ª often regional brands ¡ª that Major League Baseball fans down each season at the nation's ballparks.

And with grocery sales of about $2 billion last year hot dogs are far from being discounted. According to NPD data, 48 percent of American children aged 18 and under will eat at least one hot dog in the next two weeks.

That alone is enough for companies to take notice ¡ª particularly Kraft and Sara Lee, which are both in the midst of turnaround plans aimed at reviving stalled sales.

Kraft, the world's second-largest food company, is also spending the summer promoting its line of snack-sized hot dogs that launched in April by sending its new "Mini Weinermobile" on a nationwide marketing tour along side the full-scale model.

Meanwhile, Sara Lee is touting its angus beef franks, turkey franks and whole-grain buns that it announced in May.

With products like that, it's not just kids the companies hope to woo.

"Both of us are evolving with consumers," said Chuck Hemmingway, brand director for Ball Park.

Good deals move hot dogs
Stanton Means, a 48-old hot dog afficionado-turned-blogger from Charleston, W.Va., figures he downs nearly a dozen dogs every month while running the Web site WVHotDogs.com.

"In our culture, it's definitely a staple," said Means, who prefers his franks topped with chili, cole slaw, mustard and onions. "I often say that it's an obligatory item for a menu in West Virginia. If you have a restaurant, you have to have a hot dog, even if it's not a hot dog type restaurant."

But if he's cooking for friends, Means admits that even the finest-grade frank doesn't hold a candle to whatever's on sale at the grocery store ¡ª Oscar Mayer, Ball Park or otherwise.

"We'll probably look at price point, more than taste," he said. "If I'm buying wieners just to make hot dogs for a picnic, I'm buying the cheap ones."

That's a sentiment analysts say could be hard for Kraft and Sara Lee to overcome.

"I think that area of the store, nine times out of 10, it usually comes down to price," said Morningstar analyst Greggory Warren. "And with customers strapped right now, that does have an impact."

Both companies declined to release specific information how much they've increased hot dog prices to cope with rising commodities costs or how much they're spending to promote their hot dog products.

But Kraft is pricing its revamped Beef Franks at $3.99 ¡ª about a dime more than previous versions.

"You definitely have people who are Ball Park Franks or Oscar Mayer enthusiasts and you're never going to change them," Warren said. "It's just that right now, where the environment is, pushing a premium product is probably not going to go as smoothly as it would have gone two or three years ago."

#1

52 Replies Related Threads

    beijinger
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 05:27:49 (permalink)
    $3.99 a package is than insane or what. I high quality dog is in that price range and we all know OM and ballpark oren't on a quality list.
    #2
    MilwFoodlovers
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 06:59:18 (permalink)
    Oscar Mayer should only be eaten cold and Ball Park only with ketchup
    I can't remember the last time I purchased either of those two.
    I'm a Usinger Black Angus natural casing kind of guy in my house although Klements NC dogs are quite good but hard to find other than the factory store.
    #3
    UncleVic
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 07:31:01 (permalink)
    $3.99 for an air filled dog? What a joke. I can go out and get a package of Koegles or Nathans for about $3.25. Also, you would think in a bad economy, hot dog sales would go up. Cheap food when you look at the whole picture there... Well, if the pocket book is really thin, there's always Bar-S that runs for 99 cents when on sale.
    #4
    leethebard
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 07:47:01 (permalink)
    Now...Schickhaus vs Thumann's...that would be a war!!!!!!!
    #5
    tiki
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 09:53:06 (permalink)
    So--has anyone actually tasted these "New formula" Oscar Meyer hot dogs??---i know i haven't and expect that if i had some of the "Old" recipes and the new side by side-- i probably wouldnt taste any difference--buy--one can always hope that they may really improve them.
    #6
    exsquidao
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 10:19:54 (permalink)
    I thought OM's were only consumed by people under the age of 13?
    #7
    the grillman
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 10:26:03 (permalink)
    Oscar Meyer hot dogs are the worst I’ve ever had. They are just nasty. They are suitable for elementary school kids, as suggested earlier, but that’s about it.

    I don’t find Ballpark all beef that bad, however, if Nathan’s or a good natural casing dog isn’t available.

    If only we could buy Vienna Beef at the local grocery stores.....
    #8
    Foodbme
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 10:40:04 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by stlouisguy

    Oscar Meyer hot dogs are the worst I’ve ever had. They are just nasty. They are suitable for elementary school kids, as suggested earlier, but that’s about it.

    I don’t find Ballpark all beef that bad, however, if Nathan’s or a good natural casing dog isn’t available.

    If only we could buy Vienna Beef at the local grocery stores.....



    Why get our Elementary School Kids off on the wrong foot in life??
    #9
    bonitamandita
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 10:49:48 (permalink)
    I have tried Oscar Mayer's new 100% Beef Hotdogs and I think they are great. If you think Oscar Mayer are "kid" hot dogs you should try these because the whole family will like them, I know mine did!

    Good Morning America just did a taste test between OM and Ballpark and OM won! Besides, who doesn't love the Wienermobile? I'm a Oscar Mayer fan for life.

    #10
    MilwFoodlovers
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 11:43:50 (permalink)
    bonitamandita, welcome to Roadfood. You'll find few things inspire more passion here than hot dogs.
    Keep an open mind and shrug off any criticisms you might get.
    #11
    ChicagoIrish
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 12:12:53 (permalink)
    In regards to these new versions of the largest brands, I believe they are only refering to the "all beef" varieties that both brands have. The OM version which I believe is called "Deli" style, and which is actually not bad, not Vienna, but if on sale as a BOGO I wouldn't hesitate to pick up...just not at $4.
    #12
    Cosmos
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 13:05:44 (permalink)
    So...are they going to make Oscar Meyers taste less like a tube of spoiled meat?
    #13
    leethebard
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/16 17:50:23 (permalink)
    And will they be a decent size...an Oscar Meyer weiner floats around in a regular cheap hot dog bun!!
    #14
    MiamiDon
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/17 08:06:36 (permalink)
    A quick glance at the Oscar Meyer web site http://www.kraftfoods.com/oscarmayer/omm_hotdogs.htm seems to indicate that they sell 19 different hot dogs, of various sizes and compositions.

    LeeTheBard, maybe what you need to fill your cheap buns is

    or


    I guess non-cheap buns are smaller? Maybe these flavors would be better for users of expensive buns:


    Or there is this:


    #15
    MilwFoodlovers
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/17 09:59:32 (permalink)
    I use a variation of these



    from Konop's Meats in Stengleville Wisconsin for breakfast, fried up with some eggs. Old timers call them Polish Delights and they are.
    #16
    leethebard
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/17 10:41:32 (permalink)
    The chance of me eating an oscar mayer dog of any size are none to none ..so in this case,size doesn't matter!!!!!
    #17
    MiamiDon
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/17 10:49:39 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by leethebard

    The chance of me eating an oscar mayer dog of any size are none to none ..so in this case,size doesn't matter!!!!!


    Not even a little one?



    Just dip it in ketchup, and swallow it quickly. You won't feel a thing.
    #18
    dinerhotline
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/17 11:00:33 (permalink)
    I am partial to Kayem Hot Dogs made in Chelsea, Mass. They nare a good replacement for Essem Hot Dogs, which I cannot find anymore.
    #19
    sonjaab
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/17 13:57:23 (permalink)
    Thank god I live in Syracuse NY and can get REAL german
    sausages aka hotdogs from Leih & Steigerwald or Hoffmans
    sausage company and save that commercial crap for the
    kiddies that can slather on the catsup and enjoy!
    #20
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/17 14:03:43 (permalink)
    It's a war between unarmed combatants. No taste vs no texture in a battle over no damned good.
    #21
    leethebard
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/17 15:17:30 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by MiamiDon

    quote:
    Originally posted by leethebard

    The chance of me eating an oscar mayer dog of any size are none to none ..so in this case,size doesn't matter!!!!!


    Not even a little one?



    Just dip it in ketchup, and swallow it quickly. You won't feel a thing.



    !!!!!!!
    #22
    kensandyeggo
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/17 23:22:37 (permalink)
    Ate an "all-beef" Ball park a couple months ago. Close your eyes and you'll swear you're eating cheap balogna....like Oscar Meyer's.
    #23
    leethebard
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/18 05:10:46 (permalink)
    Yup...but I'd prefer fried bologna!!!
    #24
    ShellysDawgHouse
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/18 06:50:24 (permalink)
    Very well said Mr. Hoffman. Very well said! Now those are real crap. I don't want to be an Oscar Mayer wiener nor do i want anything that plumps when you cook it.
    #25
    sandiahead
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/29 06:11:46 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    It's a war between unarmed combatants. No taste vs no texture in a battle over no damned good.
    Pricless though I think there are definitely worse hotdogs than the OM premium or whatever they call them.
    #26
    starfire62
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/29 13:42:12 (permalink)
    here in buffalo we have sahlens or wardys hot dogs.i cant believe all the people that buy the crappy big names brands,when we have such good local brands for the same price.
    #27
    bdtn
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/29 14:16:10 (permalink)
    got to love the winermobile it cost more to run now so price goes up
    #28
    Poverty Pete
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/29 15:15:31 (permalink)
    Flavor aside, I can speak to sanitation and cleanliness issues. In the 1980's, I saw the manufacturing facilities of many of the major players in the hot dog market. The cleanest plant I ever saw was the original Oscar Mayer plant in Madison, Wisconsin. Sundancer would be proud. The filthiest place I found was the Publix factory in Plant City, Florida. It was disgusting. My observations may well be invalid 25 years later.
    #29
    Foodbme
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    RE: The Hot Dog Wars 2008/06/29 15:30:35 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by starfire62

    here in buffalo we have sahlens or wardys hot dogs.i cant believe all the people that buy the crappy big names brands,when we have such good local brands for the same price.


    Would you believe we can get Sahlens out here in AZ? One of the family moved out here and opened a Ted's and serves them just like back in NY. You can also buy them uncooked to take home. He has them "Imported from NY". His restaurant is also the local Hdqtrs for the Buffalo Bills Booster Club!
    #30
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