With baseball season at its peak, barbecues on every street and a plethora of festive social gatherings bringing friends and family together, hot dog consumption increases significantly during the summer.
Yet, most hot dogs have become a rather unhealthy staple of American cuisine, as many contain all sorts of additives like sodium nitrates, MSG and soy fillers that are mixed with the meat.
A healthier version is now on the market locally. Abie Bilgoray, manager of the butchery in Everfresh Supermarket at 533 Middle Neck Rd., recently created his own brand of hot dogs that only consist of the most natural ingredients to cater to a larger number of consumers.
Abie’s Kosher Gourmet Hot Dogs, under strict supervision of Star K. and Star S. Beit Yosef, are “blended, seasoned and smoked with the most natural of ingredients, using sea salt and natural seasoning with no nitrates added,” explained the creator.
Bilgoray, whose family pushed him to come up with a healthy hot dog that people with dietary restrictions could enjoy, created the brand just a few years ago and currently sells them exclusively at Everfresh Supermarket and at Pomegranate Supermarket in Brooklyn.
“Having lots of knowledge of quality meats and knowing what goes into preparing hot dogs, sausages and deli-style meats, I could not bear to allow my kids to eat hot dogs with ingredients causing harmful side effects,” Bilgoray said.
The hot dog enthusiast has been cooking for much of his life, studying the meat industry and its long history of deceitful practices. In 2009, Bilgoray partnered with Louie Diraimondo, America’s “Hot Dog King,” on a brand of hot dogs. But, as a result of Diraimondo’s business going bankrupt, Bilgoray could not fulfill his dream of producing a successful, healthy product.
Fearing that thousands of Americans would continue to eat chemically enriched, unhealthy hot dogs, Bilgoray partnered with a meatpacking company in Newark, NJ, and rented space so he could finesse his recipes and prepare the hot dogs.
Abie’s Kosher Gourmet Hot Dogs, a recipe years in the making, use 100 percent pure American black Angus beef with no added fillers, like soy or gluten, and no added nitrates. The hot dogs also use 100 percent sea salt and other natural spices.
With such pure ingredients, Bilgoray noted that people who normally stayed away from hot dogs began to enjoy his take on an American classic.
The hot dogs “have been received well by many pregnant women looking to meet their cravings for pure, natural hot dogs and [by] like-minded parents wanting to feed their kids with a healthier hot dog choice,” Bilgoray said.
Although only two stores currently carry this product, Bilgoray said that he wants to expand to other supermarkets and hot dog stands across the country. He is also looking to introduce new products to the market, like The New Yorker, an uncured pastrami hot dog, and the Beef Bacon Hot Dog, a beef hot dog wrapped in bacon slices.
Despite his letdown nine years ago, Bilgoray put much of his effort into pioneering a new style of hot dog, which emphasizes pure, healthy ingredients that are prepared fresh. He hopes to inspire those looking to enter the food and manufacturing fields to never give up, promote change and reform certain parts of the industry.
“Go with your gut,” said Bilgoray. “And if you think the opportunity is right, it probably is.”