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06.29.11

The 20 Healthiest (and Deadliest) Hot Dogs

America’s honorary summertime snack is often just a tube of sodium and saturated fat. The Daily Beast ranks the franks to find out which are the best—and worst—varieties.

The Fourth of July is the hot dog’s heyday. Between the parades, the fireworks, and the Coney Island eating contest, Americans will consume more than 150 million franks, which, as the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council points out, is enough to stretch from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. more than five times. But if you’re choosing a hot dog over a burger to guard your heart and your waist, you’ll have to be picky.

At their worst, hot dogs are little more than processed, fatty meat and fillers loaded with carcinogenic preservatives. But, some dogs aren’t so bad, full of all natural, lean protein without added nitrites. To help holiday revelers figure out which dogs to feast on during upcoming barbeques, The Daily Beast determined the winners and losers among the lot.

To cull the list, we considered more than 90 regular-size frank varieties (no jumbo or foot-long offerings here) made by nationally available brands. We only considered encased-meat products that are marketed as hot dogs or franks; tofu dogs and chicken sausages can be healthy options, but we were looking for the best dog for frankfurter purists. Each dog was ranked based on calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and protein, and final rankings were determined using a cumulative average (protein content was, of course, considered a positive and therefore inversely ranked to compute the averages). Hot dogs that are free of added nitrites were given an additional bonus.

Gallery: Unhealthiest Hot Dogs
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Gallery: Healthiest Hot Dogs