Hello there everyone. After much delay, which is typical for me, I have finally made the enticing “Crispy Dogs” recipe from Volume I of the Sweet Valley High Fan Club’s occasional newsletter, The Oracle (circa 1994).I thought it would be a fun experiment and a tasty pandemic snack. Wrong on both counts!
So before we get into that mess, let’s talk about this recipe. It was featured as part of a regular (or semi-regular, since I think they only put out two whole issues of this newsletter) column, called “Treats for the Sweet” and that name bugs the shit out of me for some reason. Liz introduced the recipe with this claim: “Whenever a group of our friends comes over, Jess and I like to make this easy snack.” Well, I’m calling bullshit on literally everything she just said.
Here’s the exact text of the recipe itself, as shared by Liz herself:
1 lb frankfurters
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp prepared mustard
3/4 to 1 c finely crushed corn chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each frankfurter into 4 pieces. In small bowl, combine mustard and water. Dip frankfurters into mustard mixture; coat with chips. Place on baking sheet. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until hot. Serve hot with toothpicks. Refrigerate leftovers. This recipe makes about 40 snacks. Be sure to ask an adult for help in the kitchen.
Okay, it’s me again. Every time I read “frankfurters” I heard Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show saying “Come up to the lab … and see what’s on the slab.” Oh, we’re gonna see all right. Also, since it told me to ask an adult for help in the kitchen I dragged my husband into this. Before we go any further, know that when I saw “corn chips” in this recipe I thought Liz was talking about corn tortilla chips. I have a pandemic-addled brain, okay? It wasn’t until I was actually starting the recipe that I realized she was probably talking about Fritos! Fuck! Oh well, she should’ve just freakin’ said so but she didn’t. On with our meal … please brace yourself, because the Food Network this ain’t.
My husband got to chopping up pretty much the entire pack of hot dogs (Ballparks) while I bagged up some of the chips (Mission Tortilla Rounds) and rolled over them to crush them as best I could. I wound up crushing them a bit more than this photo shows to get rid of any BIG pieces, but stopped short of grinding them into a powder.
Next, I mixed up the water and mustard like Liz said which struck both me and my husband as pretty odd but like I tried to explain to him, Liz knows everything so it must be right! Since she told us to use prepared mustard, I just grabbed a bottle of French’s out of the fridge. Time to mix up some bright yellow paint!
Time to set up the assembly line! It sounds easy enough; you just roll the hot dong I mean hot dog pieces in your watery mustard mix and then dredge each one in the corn chips.
My patient husband did the dirty work while I kept interrupting to tell him “Wait, I need a photo of this.”
The chips didn’t stick to the hot dog pieces very well and kept sliding off and making big clumps all over the tray.
The overpowering scent of mustard was in the air. I like mustard and all but …
We baked as suggested and it came out looking basically like what I’m sure you thought it would.
Taste test: It tasted like … you know, hot dogs and mustardy clumps of tortilla chips. Look, I love hot dogs so I felt like I should be saying “not too bad, just needs some improvement” but I actually think this is terrible. The chips come out all soggy and with their crunch diminished by all the mustard they have soaked up. Baking them in the oven doesn’t change that. I don’t think making this with Fritos would’ve made much of a difference in the end result, except that it would’ve tasted like hot dogs and mustardy clumps of Fritos instead. And that’s probably marginally better, if you can actually still taste the Fritos flavor through all that mustard! I probably could’ve crushed the tortilla chips a bit more than I did, but I don’t think that would’ve made a huge difference either. Who tested this recipe before publication?
If LIZ wanted the chips to stick, my assumption is that she could’ve had us pat the hot dogs dry and then use an egg coating rather than mustard. (Maybe the editors feared some kind of outlandish lawsuit if a kid making this ate raw egg, I don’t know) Not only did Liz have us use mustard, she had us MIX it with water. What was that supposed to do? Anyway, I felt sick after eating this regardless and I had to go lay down. My husband was not impressed with the recipe either, but he wound up eating most of it and was not similarly afflicted.
Was it worth it? Yes, of course because now I can continue to reference this disaster every time I make fun of Liz for being a know-it-all in my future reviews!