The Oxford NCAA Baseball Regional is this weekend. That alone will fill the seats at Oxford-University Stadium at Swayze Field, but to make things more culinarily interesting for those who will be in attendance, Ole Miss baseball’s concessions will be purveying four custom hot dog sandwiches, one designed for each of the four teams participating in the regional.
This is brilliant. A revelation, even. Behold:
For those who wish to avoid the fine print, your choices for this weekend are:
- Ole Miss “Pigmento Dog” - Footlong hot dog topped with jalapeño-pimento cheese and bacon.
- Clemson “The Esso Bird Dog Dog” - Footlong hot dog served with diced fried chicken tender, bacon, cheddar cheese, and honey mustard dressing.
- Jacksonville State “White BBQ Dog” - Footlong hot dog topped with pulled pork, jalapeños, and white Alabama BBQ sauce.
- Illinois “The Chicago” - Footlong hot dog Chicago style. Relish, tomato, pickle, pepper, on a poppy seed bun.
A quick, but important point: none of these are bad. In fact, they’re all good. Choosing among them is like choosing which kind of M&M’s are best or which wheel route play to call. You’re going to be happy either way. We are forced to choose which is best among a set of very, very good options.
But we have opinions here, and you’re gonna hear them. So here are these four hot dog sandwiches, ranked.
Again, let us reiterate that all of these choices are good! A Chicago-style dog is great! I look at hot dogs and hamburgers (and all sandwiches, really) the same way I look at pizza. You can put pretty much anything on them and they’ll be good. Chicago figured this out a while ago (in lieu of figuring out pizza) with their take on hot dogs. They pop peppers, pickles, tomatoes, mustard, onions, relish, and celery salt on them because there’s no good reason not to include those things. And, yeah, sure, fancy up that bun with poppy seeds while you’re at it. That’s great.
The problem with this dog lies with its unoriginality. Chicago dogs are a known quantity. They’re a done thing. They’re a very good and delicious thing, but they’re nothing we haven’t seen before.
3. Esso Bird Dog Dog
Esso Bird Dog Dog- is this name a reference to something? I’m sure it is but I don’t care enough to google it. Sorry, Clemson fans.
This hot dog almost seems to me like a deconstructed-then-reconstructed Publix chicken tender sub. That’s great! I think it’s a hell of a move to put chopped chicken tenders on a dog, and of course cheddar cheese and bacon are always welcome accoutrements. The drawback here is the honey mustard. I’ve put honey mustard on a hot dog before and it was a weird experience. Still, it was something on a hot dog, so it was pretty good.
2. Pigmento Dog
I love this hot dog. I love all of these hot dogs, true, but I love this one a lot. It’s clear that the designers of this dog wanted something that was true to Ole Miss’ Southern identity and Oxford’s status as a miniature Mecca of Southern cuisine, but they were deft enough to not overdo it. This could have been some Paula Deen-esque monstrosity, with fried green tomatoes and remoulade and shrimp étouffée and crushed up pecan pralines and butter beans and really just a whole mess of things that want to be the star of the show. But this isn’t that. It’s simple, and it’s still very much a hot dog at its core. It’s a hot dog with cheese, yes, but pimento cheese at that, supplemented with jalapeños and bacon to give it a blown-up-pepper-popper feel. It’s simple, it’s wonderful, and it works for us.
1. White BBQ
A bit of an important aside: I hate barbecue gatekeeping. I think it is perfectly fine for people to have a preference, and I think it is only natural to have some sort of nostalgia pangs for the barbecue of your upbringing, but this idea that there’s one sort of barbecue that is “true” or “correct” or “better” is, to me, wrong.
I like a good central Texas-style beef brisket. I like the pulled pork from Central Barbecue, the baked beans from Tops, and the spaghetti from the Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis. I enjoyed Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City when I visited. About a year ago, I found some pretty righteous mustard-based barbecue sauce at The Rib Shack in Jacksonville, Florida, and about a year before that I found an excellent vinegary chopped pork barbecue sandwich spot right off of I-95 near the Virginia and North Carolina border. I like barbecue—all barbecue—because anything made with good meat and with care is going to be good.
The same goes for the white sauce that’s commonly served on chicken in north Alabama. Yeah, it’s made of mostly mayonnaise, which is fine. Mayonnaise is actually good, despite what people would otherwise have you believe. When mixed with vinegar, some horseradish or mustard, and black pepper, it’s still pretty good. When put on pork or chicken, it’s good. It’s also barbecue, and you don’t have any say over that. Eat it and enjoy it like an adult.
So this hot dog is good. Very good. It has that aforementioned white barbecue sauce on it, along with pulled pork and jalapeños. It’s basically a barbecue sandwich with a fankfurter having joined the party. I cannot possibly imagine how that could be anything other than delightful. This hot dog is a very, very good one. You should eat it.
You should also eat the other ones because they are all good.