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Hot Dog! It’s the Transfer Portal! // Michigan State Football Potluck Preview #2

The Tuesday Potluck talks wieners, winners, and Walker.

Koegel Walker III

Hot dog! It’s time to talk all-natural casings and mystery meats!

Michigan is home to Koegel’s Meats, which, just like Meijer from yesterday’s potluck, has been around for quite a long time. Founded in 1916, the most well-known of Koegel’s wares is the “Vienna,” which you probably know as a hot dog.

Check out this family feasting upon them in 1981:

1981 Koegel Meats commercial.

However, Koegel’s products page features over 35 other meaty delights, with such no-nonsense descriptions as the one for Braunschweiger: “A blend of pork and pork liver finely chopped for a smooth texture. The reason our customers like it so much is because it does not have a liver taste because we use more pork than pork liver.”

There you have it. For when you want to eat liver, but not taste liver.

Other creative entries include: Head Cheese (“A coarsely ground blend of beef and pork snouts held together by gelatin. This product is an old-fashioned lunchmeat.”), Whol-E-Smokes (breakfast sausage), and Macaroni & Cheese Loaf (“A blend of finely chopped beef, pork and our unique spices, to which we add diced cheese and macaroni noodles for a tasty luncheon treat. Try a piece heated for a change.”)

So, writers and readers:

  1. Which Koegel’s meat product causes the strongest reaction for you–positive or negative?
  2. Hot dogs - is there a regional brand or specialty in your neck of the woods?
  3. Let’s get controversial–what’s the best topping for a hot dog?

BoilerUp89: I don’t know what Koegel’s is and I don’t pay enough attention to regional brands or specialities to comment on them. But the best topping for a hot dog is clearly Cincinnati chili. The rest of you are just jealous you didn’t come up with it first.

HWAHSQB: I love processed meat. The more processed the better. That being said, braunschweiger is gross. Meat should not have the texture of toothpaste. Ugh.

As a former Chicagoan, I take my hot dog sandwiches seriously. I usually go dill pickle and mustard, but I can do chili, mustard, and onions or sauerkraut as well. Obviously, I go full Chicago dog when I’m in the area, but I don’t put that much work into a dog at home.

When not in Chicago, I eat more hot dogs at Sam’s Club than anywhere else. They serve a ¼ pound all beef Nathan’s dog with a steamed potato bun and a soda for $1.50. You can’t beat that deal with a stick.

misdreavus79: Oh man, that description took me straight to 9-year old me eating pork liver in the DR, with, well, no other parts of the pork mixed in to mask the liver taste. If you haven’t eaten straight pork liver, it’s fucking disgusting. And you’d best believe I’d get “la chancla” if I didn’t eat it all. Cow and chicken liver, on the other hand, taste great!

When it comes to hot dogs, I really only get them for when I need my kids to eat something, if they decide to be divas any given day and not eat whatever is cooked for them. As a result, I don’t really pay attention to what brand I’m getting. Maybe I should…

I’m a simple man when it comes to hot dogs. Mustard, ketchup, and we’re good. I’m not against other toppings, but I won’t go out looking for them either.

MNW: A few of them really disgusted me (pickle bologna can burn in hell), but I really felt seen at the 5# Braunschweiger log:

This is a vacuum-packed log.

Anyway, the diet is going well.

I am very much in favor of most of these cased meats, and I’ve got a go-to in Hackenmueller’s Meat Market, just across 100 in Robbinsdale. They’ve been there damn near a century now. Good Swedish sausage, good beef sticks. I’m a fan of the sausages in Minnesota with wild rice stuffed in there, too, and I love me some Braunschweiger.

Chicago dogs are stupid, and I don’t know who needs to hear that today, but there you go.

For the rest of it, if I’m going to top a hot dog at all, I’ll do some chili and cheese on there – I need an occasion to be eating one in the first place, and unless it’s something authentic like an Ambassador frank, just load it up. If it’s a brat or Polish, some sauerkraut would be excellent right about now.

WSR: I think we should point out that there’s a kid wearing a hat at his grandparent’s table in that commercial and somehow the little welp didn’t catch a spoon. What’s actually going on here, Michigan? Are your grandparents soft and weak and promoting horrible values?

Nearly everything on the top ⅔ of the page is terrifying to me. Why do you need so many different types of bologna when they all belong in the trash can next to the mayo? Why are these things existing? I’ll give them credit for having multiple types of Polish sausages that look decent.

There’s a family-owned butcher shop in my hometown called Dehmer’s, and they make their own hot dogs and they’re outstanding. My grandma used to get a 10 pound bag of them when she’d come back to Minnesota in the summer to throw in the freezer for the rest of the year in Arizona.

Hot dogs are simple foods, and require only brown mustard to be perfect. I’ll accept onions, relish, or chili as additional toppings, and will continue to push for people who put ketchup on hot dogs to sent to Gitmo.

Kind of…: I come in peace, and WSR can be bad cop on the “no ketchup” front, but let’s just be clear that he is objectively correct. Anyway, plenty of meats of this sort were served at the table while I was growing up, so none of it puts me off too much (never ate head cheese, I will acknowledge that). Given that, that one that gives me pause is the Whole-E-Smokes. Everything else if matter-of-fact: head cheese, olive loaf, pickle loaf, liver sausage, etc. But you have to give your pre-cooked breakfast sausage a whimsical name? Something must be up.

As for hot dogs, if it’s a bad to mediocre hot dog, and you’re limited to one condiment, use some sort of mustard. If you have a really good hot dog: sauerkraut. If your preference is some chocolate-based “chili” sauce, or tomatoes annihilated by sugar, great, have at it. I will not physically obstruct you.

BRT: This question is dedicated to my uncle, who grew up in Flint, and thus has a warm place in his heart for Koegel’s Viennas. Nebraska’s signature hot dog is the neon red Fairbury Brand Hot Dog, and I’m sure Koegel’s are better. I’m not a fan of ketchup in any context, so my preferred toppings are mustard (preferably not bright yellow) and relish. If sauerkraut is available, I’m also going there, like a good Czech.


Speaking of mystery meat, part of the “magic” of hot dogs is that you never really know what it is you’re getting. And sometimes, the transfer portal is the same way. Sometimes you take a bite and are pleasantly surprised, and other times you really regret the decisions you’ve made. This is relevant to Michigan State because one of the biggest questions facing the Spartans this year is how they’ll replace Kenneth Walker III, who was pretty good, I guess.

He’s hanging out in Seattle these days, which is a lot nicer than East Lansing, but the good news for MSU is that Sparty’s 2021 success may attract other speedy young lads to take their talents to EL for a year or two. Sources (Kracklepopski) tell me that Jalen Berger from Wisconsin or Jarek Broussard from Colorado are MSU’s best chances for filling the Walker-shaped hole in their offense. Both of these players have satisfying narrative dimensions that announcers will enjoy driving into the ground: Berger remained in-conference, which is always a little bit spicy; and Broussard is not the first nice asset the Spartans have lured from the foothills of the Rockies–right, Mel Tucker? Regardless of how well either of these guys fills Walker’s shoes, the one thing we do know is that the guy carrying the ball for the Spartans is more than likely named J-a-something-e-something.

So, writers and readers:

  1. Transfer portal–I know we’ve talked about this many times this season, but this is what CFB is now, like it or not. Who, besides Mel Tucker, seems to really be working the portal well in college coaching?
  2. Make a guess– at the end of the season are we wowed by either Berger or Broussard? And if so, which one?

BoilerUp89: I wouldn’t say Brohm is doing as well as Tucker but he’s quietly brought in quite a few contributors on the defensive side of the ball the last couple of years to fill in gaps. And there were a lot of gaps after 2020. With NIL becoming a thing though, I’m willing to bet that was more of a one time thing since Purdue doesn’t have uber wealthy alumni that are willing to throw money at athletics (to be fair if I win the lottery this week, Purdue athletics also isn’t getting any of my money).

If I had to pick one it would be Broussard as he put up more impressive numbers (to me anyway) at a worse running program. But I don’t think either is as likely to make waves as Walker because a) I expect the O-line to take a half step backwards and b) Walker was really good. Side note: thanks to Mel Tucker for only giving him 22 carries against Purdue last season.

misdreavus79: There’s the heavy hitters, who were able to pick off the best available prospects to fill holes –Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State did it this offseason. Then there’s Lincoln Riley, who effectively packed the entire Oklahoma team along with the rest of his belongings on the way to Southern Cal. Greg Schiano seems to have also built himself a nice core through the portal. Yeah they only went 5-7, but that’s better than they’d done in the past! I’d say Penn State did pretty well last season bringing Arnold Ebiketie and Derrick Tangelo to plug the holes on the defense, then they did it again this offseason with Mitchell Tinsley and Chop Robinson. We’ll see if the latter two are as good as the former two.

Which one, Berger or Broussard, played with the worse line? Because that’s the one I expect to be able to handle playing behind what may very well be a mediocre line this season.

MNW: Northwestern has filled its specialist positions just fine through the portal – both Jake Collins and Derek Adams were more than cromulent punters. Here’s hoping they can pull a couple rabbits outta the hat with former MSU kicker Jack Olsen and former UCLA P Luke Akers.

If the MSU O-line is up for it, maybe plug-and-play Sconnie could be good, but otherwise give me the other guy. On the whole, though, I bet Tel Mucker’s offense isn’t sneaking up on anyone this year and either one spends a lot more time plowing forward into stacked lines.

WSR: Fleck’s done pretty well in the portal, Val Martin aside. We’ve added DBs (Benjamin St.-Juste), LBs (Jack Gibbens), DL (Micah Dew-Treadway and Nyles Pinckney), and WR (Dylan Wright) who have all been started and strong contributors. I’ll take it.

I don’t think we’ll be as impressed with Berger or Broussard, because I’m going to need to be convinced that the OL is the real deal. Sparty’s not going to be sneaking up on anyone this year, so the RBs will need to be better than Walker to be as good and I’m just not convinced that they are.

Kind of…: Lincoln Riley is the obvious answer, but that gets an asterisk since he switched jobs. I supposed Mississippi has. I mean, how could Lane Kiffin not excel at that? UW grabbed Chez Mellusi from Clemson last year and he played well enough to cause Berger to transfer to MSU (not the only reason, but still true) and thus far nobody that left has totally blown up at their new location (if Berger addresses those other reasons, maybe that changes). This year will be a good test. If Keontez Lewis produces at WR and/or the secondary plays well (three different transfers there), then UW will deserve to be viewed as an effective, if not heavy, player.

I don’t know much about Broussard. Berger looked pretty good in 2020 but issues arose last year. He’s clearly talented. Probably not the next Kenneth Walker, but capable of being an effective back for a good program. If he likes his new situation better, then he’ll probably ring up a 1,000 yard season before he’s done. If Broussard beats him out, then I’ll feel better about how things went down in Madison.

BRT: Hmmm. Berger was the name of a character on Sex and the City who was self-centered and childish, and famously dumped Carrie via post-it note. This was supposed to make him a villain, but since Carrie sucks so badly, I think it makes him a hero. So Berger is my choice, for these very sound, football-related reasons.


What goes best on a hot dog?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    A little ketchup.
    (12 votes)
  • 35%
    A little mustard.
    (28 votes)
  • 1%
    A little relish.
    (1 vote)
  • 8%
    Some onions.
    (7 votes)
  • 25%
    Chili and cheese.
    (20 votes)
  • 7%
    I, a Chicagoan, am prepared to pull a gun on you over the consistency of the bread, the brownness of the mustard, the size of the poppy seeds, or some other trivial point.
    (6 votes)
  • 6%
    (5 votes)
79 votes total Vote Now