Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gimme a Good Dog!!!

I know its been a while since I’ve been on here and for that I apologize, but I have been dealing with Joanne and her digestive issues. Let’s talk about that another time, shall we?

With the Memorial Day just nearly upon us and the summer grilling season ahead of us, I just had to write this post.

Today I’m here to discuss hot dogs. Yeah, I know what your thinking…I’m vegetarian, so why would I talk about hot dogs here? Well, they are one of the only meat items that when I smell them cooking, make me salivate. I think it’s mostly the smoky scent that does it to me, but regardless, I can smell a hotdog and get a craving that I can’t squash till I have one or two with all the fixins’!

I often get the impression some of the blogs I read that vegetarians aren’t supposed to have cravings for meat-like products. The idea is that we gave up meat, so we shouldn’t want to replicate that by using products that have flavors and textures similar to ground meat, burgers, chicken and hotdogs.

I beg to differ with those people. Vegetarians don’t always give up meat because they dislike the taste and texture. Some of us give it up because of moral and ethical reasons regarding factory farming. That’s for another column; maybe another blog. Some give it up to be more friendly to the earth or even for health reasons.

For a lot of years, vegetarians didn’t have many options than to make their own veggie burgers and loaves and a vegetarian hotdog was heresy.

It took a while, but there have been some true advances in how textured vegetable protein has been processed. TVP is basically soy. From tofu, tempeh and miso, to other meat-like proteins such as seitan and mycoprotein made with mushrooms has been worked into palatable sources of meal item staples for those wishing to get the high protein with less fat than red meat.

Joanne and I have used all of these products and when I get the craving to enjoy veggie hotdogs, my go-to brand has always been Morningstar Farms.

I’ve tried Tofupups, and Soydogs, but Moringstar Farms has always been the brand that had a texture most like a hotdog and a bit of a resistance when you bit into them that was similar to biting into the actual casing of a hotdog and getting that snap. It was truly a mouth-feel for me, besides the flavor.

On a hotdog roll with fried onions, coleslaw, relish, ketchup, mustard, cheese, sauerkraut, guacamole, salsa, broken taco shells, meatless bbq (made from TVP) and any other number of great toppings and I’m set. With a side of baked beans and mashed potatoes and some watermelon for dessert and I’m a happy girl.

However, this will be a sad, sad summer for me. It seems Morningstar Farms has discontinued their America’s Original Veggie Dogs!

I took a gander and wrote them in April. Much surprised that I received an email back, I was grateful for the explanation. I thought you’d enjoy seeing their response here:

May 4, 2010 10:31:40 PM, kellogg@casupport.com wrote:

Hello Rose,

We know this answer may put us in the dog house, but we have discontinued our Morningstar Farms® Veggie Dog products including Morningstar Farms® America's Original Veggie Dogs, Morningstar Farms® Corn Dogs, Morningstar Farms® Mini Corn Dogs, and Morningstar Farms® Corn Dogs Made with Natural Ingredients. We know we have lots of big fans of these products.

This situation was not a decision we made due to poor sales, but rather due to our inability to secure an appropriate manufacturing facility to produce them on an ongoing basis. Veggie dogs are not made using the same technology as our other products so we relied on another company to make them for us. It is difficult to make the choice to discontinue a product, as we know it is always someone's favorite.

We value your business and would love for you to try our Morningstar Farms® Veggie Italian Style Sausage. They are great for family grilling! Or if you prefer a hot dog, we suggest Worthington® Veja-Links® vegetarian hot dogs. (Worthington is part of the Morningstar Farms family). This is a canned product and is readily available at most natural food stores.

Thank you for contacting us. Please join us on Facebook, where we post the latest information about Morningstar Farms, including inspiring recipes and an occasional coupon!

Best of health,

Mark A. Suriano
Consumer Specialist
Consumer Affairs

Ok, so it’s not poor sales, but an operations issue. I understand, but if a company as big as Kelloggs can’t find a way to manage the production of this product we’re all losers. Although I’ve never seen it anywhere to be able to try it, It makes me wonder about the canned product in their ‘family’ and where that gets produced. Will that also be pulled from the shelves in the near future?

They offer me an option, but who wants a hotdog out of a can? Ok, maybe astronauts or campers and maybe even our vegetarian armed forces, but why can’t a company as enormous as Kelloggs find a way to make this work.

I can’t possibly be the only person who really enjoyed these TVP hotdogs, can I? I think not!

Well, I’m going to start a Facebook page to see if we can get Kelloggs to bring these back! It worked for Betty White, didn’t it? She was on Saturday Night Live all because of Facebook and it could even work for Carol Burnett…let’s see what it can do for the Morning Star Farms America’s Original Veggie Dogs! Look em’ up in a few days and sign up!

What is that Margaret Mead quote? Never under estimate that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Ok, so veggie hotdogs aren’t changing the world, but it’s a start, right?

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