Gone to the dogs?

Should you be jumping on the hot-dog band wagon? ELIT ROWLAND reports

This time last year, gourmet burgers were making mouths water in the eating out sector. However, this summer, the trend for American nostalgia will see the rise of a new contender: the hot dog.

With restaurants such as Bubbledogs and Meat Market performing well across London, and reports stating that even celebrity-chef Jamie Oliver plans to capitalise on the gourmet junk food trend with his own hot-dog restaurant in the capital, it’s no wonder that everyone’s going barking mad for this humble sausage.

One major wholesaler is already ahead of the game: just last month, Brakes launched its ‘gourmet hot dog’ concept to help foodservice operators to capitalise on this trend.

Joanna Brett, product development manager at Brakes, says: “We noticed a trend towards American nostalgia-themed foods, but with a gourmet twist. We looked at the London market and saw a need for a higher standard of this kind of food – in particular, a good quality hot dog with a dense, glazed roll.”
The Brakes hot dog uses sausages that contain ‘high quality, naturally oak-wood smoked British pork’, which can be heated in their pouch, in boiling water, or in the microwave.

The hot dog is merchandised with rolls and variety of sauces as a ‘recommended range of products’, although the concept is flexible with regards to what’s purchased.

Brakes is further supporting caterers in capitalising on the trend by offering guidance on the pricing of portions.

“We know what the exact weight each filling should be, so our customers can work out exactly how much margin they will make,” says Brett. So far, the hot dog is performing well with a variety of customers, from schools and universities, to pubs and even a zoo.

Mike Bennett, commercial manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Zoo, says: “We’ve sold more than 2,000 gourmet hot dogs in the past two weeks – around 40% of sales were of the chilli dog and 60% were
of the plain version.

“Most of our visitors go for the grab-to-go format. The chilli version really fits in with the South American theme we have in that particular area of the park.”

The American Retro trend looks set to continue over the next six months, incorporating other familiar classics, such as southern-fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. “It’s linked to the recession
and the fact that people want to buy foods they are familiar with but of a higher quality,” adds Brett.
To capitalise on the trends, wholesalers will need to focus on covering all bases – from toppings and accompaniments to on-the-go packaging.

“Our advice to foodservice wholesalers is to offer a total solution,” says Brett.
“Not only do we have all the toppings and the bread, but also a cardboard holder for hot dogs on-the-go.
Solutions should be tailored to the needs of individual outlets.”


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