Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Franks Foods Franks (The Red Hot Dog)


Franks Foods Franks

There's a lot to be said for the way color influences what we eat. Back in college I took a color theory class and discovered the many ways color subconsciously affects our everyday lives. Of particular interest to me was the way color has the ability to stimulate our appetites. Although the way colors affect us depends greatly on our cultural differences and individual life experiences, in general, warm colors stimulate the appetite and cool colors suppress the appetite. This may be attributed to a time when the only cues we could rely on to indicate ripeness and wholesomeness as opposed to unsavoriness like mold and spoilage were color indicators. Consider the fact that most fast food chain logos use reds yellows and oranges in their logos. My guess is, the decision to graphically warm things up was based on careful market research and color consultation and not by chance alone. Here's a link to more on color theory by Color Professor J.L. Morton.

I assume color theory to some extent must have been the original concept behind artificially colored red hot dogs. In my opinion, possible carcinogenic risk aside, (from FD&C red 40) a red hot dog looks much more appealing on the surface than a pasty, flesh colored wienie. Vivid colors imply freshness and flavor. I almost believe a red hot dog actually tastes better than a hot dog of a subtler hue. A "blind" taste test would seem in order here. I only recently found out to what extent meat producers are willing to go to in order to present the desired color in their products and their tactics extend surreptitiously well beyond coloring hot dogs red. Check out this article in the Washington Post for more information on this subject.

With all that color theory background in place, I present to you FF Smoked Artificially Colored Franks. That's exactly what they're called on the package. These franks are red. They are really red.


FF Brand Smoked Artificially Colored Franks




Red on the backside too


In Hawaii, red hot dogs and sausages are popular items. Redondo's "Winners" and Pupu Pups, Miko hot dogs, and Pupu Rockets and Uncle Louie's sausages are just some of the hot dogs and sausages available that proudly sport the bright red, fresh sun burnt complexion. On many a plate lunch menu one can usually find the chili frank plate. Consisting of a scoop or two of rice smothered with chili and accompanied by a dollop of cool macaroni salad on the side, any chili frank plate worth it's heartburn would be incomplete without the signature bright red hot dog.


Chili Frank
Plate

Hawaii is not alone in it's affinity for red hot dogs. In some regions of the country, red hot dogs are almost exclusive on local menus. Take for instance, North Carolina's Bright Leaf brand of hot dogs produced by Carolina Packers, manufacturing red hot dogs since 1941, or West Point, Nebraska's Wimmer's Meats, producing fine meat products including red hot dogs, since 1934.

So what is it about the red hot dog? Hot dog aficionados across the country swear by them. For me, the red hot dog speaks of tradition and stability in an ever changing culinary environment. Food trends seem to come and go, reluctant to blend in, adapt and assimilate. Today's hot ticket meal quickly becomes tomorrow's has-been novelty. Wow factor (I hate that term) food is all too often the main objective in fancy restaurants these days with comfort, tradition and sometimes even taste suffering as a result. Red hot dogs remind me of more carefree days spent picnicking at the beach or backyard barbecuing at friend's houses in the summer. Red hot dogs come from a time when we weren't overly concerned with what we were eating, as long as it tasted good and we ate it in moderation. We were ignorantly blissful before we found out that everything we eat is going to kill us.

I say, you should eat what you want and enjoy it but do it in moderation. Like everything that's supposedly bad for us, red hot dogs simply taste good but no one needs ten of them at one sitting to feel satisfied. Eat with your eyes, then your taste buds, then think of all the reasons why you're enjoying it.

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