When my wife and I had our hot dog stand, we decided to go with canned chili for the chili dogs, due to the Health Dept rules on food having to be prepared onsite. We conducted taste tests for about three weeks, offering our dogs and sausages for half price, in return for the feedback on the food choices.
Hormel's chili, no beans was the runaway favorite of all the brands we tested, so we would fill the pan for the chili in our steam table with Hormel's, and our customers were happy. As far as hot dogs go, we ended up using the cheapest hot dogs Safeway carried. We tried Oscar Mayer, Ball Park, even Hebrew National, and the cheapos carried the day, overwhelmingly.
When it came to the smoked sausages, only John Morell would be accepted by a vast majority. Bar S sausages were described as being greasy, and leaving a greasy film on the mouth and tongue for most people. If we were to re-open today, we would have to go to Phoenix to find acceptable smoked sausages, as John Morell changed their packaging, so now, instead of 16 bun-length sausages per package, you get 2 sausages per package, each about half again as long as the bun length ones. Neither the longer sausages nor the packaging in twos would fit in with our menu.
For our brats, there is a small butcher shop in Queen Creek called the Pork Shop, and they make a decent brat at a reasonable price, which bested Johnsonville by a 2 to 1 margin in our tests.
A little tip that we discovered: We found that the little cardboard hot dog boats would cost us a nickel apiece, and we felt this was just not acceptable. Our solution was to use coffee filters. the filters cost us about a quarter cent apiece, depending on where they were purchased, held the hot dog or sausage sandwich nicely, and then could be used as a napkin before being discarded. We kept inexpensive paper napkins available, but had to use very few of them. Many people commented on the ingenuity of using coffee filters for hot dog packaging.