By Joel Wass
If Jerry Seinfeld were writing this column he’d most likely begin it by asking: “What’s the deal with Toronto hot dog vendors charging an extra 50 cents for veggie hot dogs? Who a-a-are these people?”
Since I’m a Seinfeld fan and food ‘injustices’ are a common theme in this week’s paper (see pages 3 and 5), that’s how I’ll bring up my veggie dog beef, too.
I begrudgingly bought my first $2.50 veggie dog-regular hot dogs are $2 – outside the SkyDome before an Argos game in June. At the time I assumed it was an anomaly-let’s face it, the only cheap thing at the SkyDome is the Blue Jays’ payroll – and would surely never become the city standard. But five months later, the price hike epidemic has spread across the city and has even hit Ryerson’s own Ernie the hot dog guy.
Ernie says he raised his meatless wieners – by 25 per cent, I might add-because of “inflation.” His competitors say that’s a bunch of bull. Henry, who mans the second stand north of Yonge and Gerrard streets, says he pays roughly the same amount for veggie dogs as he does for regular dogs from his supplier.
And, oh, is Henry speaking the truth. According to a spokesperson for Schneider Hot Dogs, 12-packs of Schneider veggie dogs are only 60 cents more expensive than 12-packs of street meat.
“Some charge more because [veggie dogs] are harder to cook and take longer,” says Henry, who is adamant he’ll never make his vegetarian option more expensive than his hot dogs. In all fairness to Toronto’s vendors, a decent snack for less than $3 is a good deal, but the raise in price is a raw deal? – not only for vegetarians, but for those looking to eat healthier.
Sure, eating any kind of street meat is never the healthiest thing to do, but veggie dogs do contain less fat and sodium than regular hot dogs. “For teenagers and university students, veggie dogs are a healthier option,” says Sue Mah, a Toronto-based registered dietitian and sports nutritionist. If Jackie Chiles, Kramer’s lawyer on Seinfeld, was finishing this column he’d likely announce:
“Eating healthy should not be strictly for the wealthy. It’s amoral. It’s distasteful. It’s disgraceful.”
– With files from Erica Rodd