….or What Won’t Kill Will Fatten.
A can of Vienna sausages is one of those comfort food items that you neither love nor hate but with which you have a strong nostalgic association. It reminds me of childhood outings where I was allowed to eat something right out of a can while standing up. When I noticed that there are more than a few varieties of Vienna sausage on our local supermarket shelf I thought it might be fun to sample and thus devised a blind taste test for me and Lance.
To test, we each had one sausage of each of six varieties cut into four pieces and placed in its own glass with a folded identifying label on the base. For consistency I washed the sauce off of the hot and spicy ones so that they looked like the others. By the time I got around to the test I couldn’t recall which sausage came out of which can so Lance and I were on pretty equal footing. We rated each on taste and texture, recorded general comments, and picked our individual overall favourite of the six contenders. I chose to cleanse my palate with a piece of raisin bread; Lance ate his sausages without benefit of cleanser.
I wish that I had done a spreadsheet; it would have made my results much easier to read. I’ll go through them one by one. The exciting thing was that we both agreed on the number one pick and we shared two of the top three picks. So off we go, rating from worst to best. In taste and texture ratings 0 is yuck and 6 is yummy.
This was my absolute least favourite. I gave it a 2 for taste and a 3 for texture. I noted that it was too salty. In fact, it actually made me swear. Maybe 2 was too generous. I think it should actually be called “Prairie Butt”. Lance gave this 3 for taste and a 3 for texture. It was fourth down the scale on his faves. (number one being the best) He thought it more vinegery than the others and slightly spicy. He will get to finish this can on his own. The only good thing I can say here is that it has the cutest label.
This was my number five pic, or second from last. I gave it a 4 for taste and a four for texture and thought it tasted of the tin. It was Lance’s number five as well. He gave it 3 for taste and 3 for texture and said that it was “blandish”. An entirely unremarkable Vienna sausage but not hateful.
My fourth pick with 3 for taste and 4 for texture. It was Lance’s second favourite, however, and he gave it 4 for both. He called it a “standard” while I commented it was very salty.
As my third favourite, I found the Armour Hot and Spicy interesting. I gave them 4 for taste and five for texture and thought they had a slowly developing flavour with a not unpleasant after-taste. Lance however didn’t like them at all and put them as his 6th pick with a 2 for taste and a 2 for texture. He said they tasted of pickled pepper and that they were tough. By the way, I tried them again later with the sauce from the can and they didn’t taste much different and I can’t say that they were hot. Maybe the makers meant that they were the sexy kind of hot, I don’t know.
My second from best. 5 for taste, 4 for texture. I complained that they were a little pale, though, and the least visually pleasing of the lot. Lance said 4 for taste, 3 for texture and placed them as his 3rd from the top. He called these “standard” as well.
And the winner is: Carmela’s. Distinctly the best and top choice for both of us. I said 5 for flavour and 4 for texture and commented that these were the most familiar; that they were what I would expect a Vienna sausage to taste like (I have never been to Vienna). Lance gave them a 5 for taste and 4 for texture as well and said that they were slightly more robust than the others. Incidentally, these have my second favourite label. Carmela, you make a pretty decent canned sausage.
Later I looked at the labels more closely and read the nutrition details. I wish I hadn’t. I recommend that you not do it. They are all loaded with saturated fats and nitrites. Carmela’s actually had the least amount of salt at 985mg per can of sausages (no wonder I’m parched) and were the second lowest in calories at 162 per can. I had to do some math because values were given for four sausages in some cans, five in others and also for the whole can. It’s a sneaky trick to make it hard to compare one brand to another. Keeping the Alzheimer’s at bay folks by working it out on paper; all good, even if I am giving the kidneys a work-out today. The Prairie Belt variety, besides being my least favourite, were also the most unhealthy with a whopping 1380mg of sodium per can.
– getting a number 1 for favourite is only relative to other Vienna sausages, not to any other kind of food. They are not, I repeat, not my favourite food. It’s just that they travel well in a komatik box or a dory’s grub-box or a small backpack. They also quickly answer that salt craving you get when you’ve been exerting yourself and sweating out there in the wilds.
– only four of the six varieties were actually called “Vienna” sausages. No, they don’t eat Vienna sausages in Vienna, they eat frankfurters and probably not out of a can and they aren’t likely so soft that you can strain them through your teeth like most of these were.
– there are many more brands to be tested, which I discovered after googling, but for some reason I don’t feel tempted to eat more Vienna sausages. Not today, not next week; it might be next summer before I can risk another sampling.
There’s lots of sausages left if you want to come by; my next experiment is to see how long they keep in the fridge after being opened.
I feel a little sick.
© Judy Parsons 2022