Every Icelandic Hotdog Condiment Combination, Rated — Part 1 - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Every Icelandic Hotdog Condiment Combination, Rated — Part 1

Every Icelandic Hotdog Condiment Combination, Rated — Part 1

Jón Benediktsson York Underwood
Photos by
York Underwood

Published April 21, 2015

You asked for it. We did it. We’ve all been there: standing in front of Bæjarins Beztu with our gaping mouths salivating onto the hotdog rack. SO MANY CHOICES. There are, in fact, 32 choices. That’s right, 32 possible hotdog condiment combinations. Where has the media been? A public plight of this magnitude needs to be analyzed and reported. Too long have we stood in the shadow of ignorance and mystery. It is time for us brave journalists to shine a light and seek out the truth. Or, at the very least, discover the human tolerance for nitrates and meat sweats.

Our setup is simple: we eat eight hotdogs a day for four days. Now if you’re a numbers man, or integer femme, you know that we can exclude raw onions and have 16 possible combinations and then do the whole batch over again, but with raw onions included.

There is one glaring error in this method. We are eating eight hotdogs in one sitting. This means our judgement will be impaired by meat ingestion. This could skew the results as we get to the last hotdog of the day. However, this is up for debate. Maybe there is a wall, much like marathon running or cycling the Tour de France, but once you pass that wall things become easier, almost more objective. This could be what buddhists call, “Nirvana,” a meat-induced state of pure spiritual bliss.

In a very real and literal way, this article is about the search for God. The condiments are merely place holders and the hotdog itself is a metaphor. What is perfection? Is there a universal good? Can pure bliss only be understood as analogy or can an object transcend form–immersing itself in everything and nothing?

Make me one with everything…or is there something better?

Legend
= It’s good
= It’s bad
= Ketchup
= Mustard
= Remoulade
= Cronions
= Raw onions
= Nothing
YU = York Underwood
JB = Jón Benediktsson

First Day, First Batch

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Nothing

YU: It’s good; it’s a little dry. It’s an effort to swallow. It makes me feel skinny.
JB: A hidden gem in the hotdog scenery. A great hotdog to have if you are eating your fourth in a row.

Mustard

YU: Heartwarming. It’s the hotdog mustard that reminds me most of Iceland. It warms my heart, right Clinton?
JB: It’s called the Clinton in Iceland because this is the one he had at Bæjarins bestu. It’s a cult classic, Clinton really knows how to put a weiner in your mouth.

Cronions

YU: It’s got the snap of the plain hotdog, with the aroma of onions – but the after effect of eating glass.
JB: First bites are okay as you feel the sweetness of the cronions but towards the end it gets way too dry.

Remoulade

YU: I feel like I just blew Humpty-dumpty. It’s overwhelming blandness removes any resemblance of a hotdog.
JB: Really lacking in texture and complexity of flavour. The remoulade doesn’t let the hotdog taste through and ruins the experience.

Ketchup

YU: Like all things American in Iceland, it’s corny, juvenile, and overrated.
JB: It’s like the sweet girl you dated and thought was perfect until you met her parents, realized they are racists and that you made a huge mistake. I see tourists order this at Bæjarins beztu all of the time. Don’t. You can do so much better.

Getting Complicated

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Ketchup And Cronions

YU: Can two negatives make a positive? My mouth isn’t cut up and my tongue doesn’t smell like a trailer park so I guess this is alright, but not great.
JB: It’s a real tease. The texture is there, but the flavour isn’t. It’s like the Progressive Party, if you like it you’re an idiot.

Remoulade And Cronions

YU: This is the hotdog version of She’s All That. After the disappointment of plain remoulade, I wouldn’t have bet you could transform it into something so sexy. I could be seen eating this in public or even take it home to meet my parents.
JB: Remoulade and cronions are the base of Danish cuisine, right? At least they have tons of smørrebrød based on this idea. It feels wrong to like something so Danish, but then again, forbidden love is always hot.

Mustard And Cronions


YU: I almost puked. Not from the flavour, but because it was my eighth hotdog in a row. I thought the sweet mustard with the cronions would go together but instead they only seemed to cause hallucinations and sweating.
JB: I was sure my two favourite condiments together would be good, but the flavour of the mustard isn’t strong enough so it just tastes like cronions with a hint of something else.

Second Day, Even More Hotdogs

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Ketchup And Mustard

YU: So when I woke up this morning the last thing I wanted was hotdogs. This didn’t change my mind.
JB: This is a another one of the “tourist trap hotdogs”, but probably the best one in that category. The mild taste of the condiments really lets the hotdog flavour through, and in the hotdog business that’s a good thing.

Ketchup And Remoulade

YU: A surprising treat! The ketchup mixed with the remoulade makes a rich tasting cocktail-like sauce allowing for the flavour of the bun, the hotdog, and the sauce to come out in its own time. A great balance of acidity and creaminess.
JB: I didn’t realize I was eating a hotdog until half way through. This feels like something you could go for as a second hotdog during a hangover. But hotdogs are more than just stomach-stuffing, and people ordering hotdogs should aim higher.

Mustard And Remoulade

YU: Let me make a bold statement: This is the most Asian inspired combination of all the condiment combinations. Think sweet, think sour, think pork. If you dice this up and served it on rice, it would probably be a special at Nings.
JB: The fattiness of the remoulade needs something to balance it and this hotdog is missing that something.

Ketchup, Mustard And Cronions

YU: What would a wave of flavour taste like? Would it be acidic, yet sweet? Aromatic, yet crunchy? Many people, philosophers even, have tried to understand the relationship between metaphor and reality. A is not B, but A equals B. It’s safe to say: You’ve made the right choice.
JB: This is my favourite hotdog. I don’t know why, but my mother would never let me have “one with everything” as a child (probably because I was a fat baby) so this was my version of the one with everything. I was fifteen when I tasted the real one with everything for the first time. This hotdog is so good, because it’s the full package. It has texture and flavour, without being too heavy. You could probably eat four of these in a row and still be happy. It’s a popular hotdog in Iceland, but I never see tourists ordering this one. It’s a shame, because it doesn’t just rival the one with everything – it complements it as well (I usually get one of these and one with everything – that’s the killer combo).

Drowning In Sauces

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Ketchup, Mustard And Remoulade

YU: All style, no texture. I’m sure you could balance out these condiments to a nice flavour, but without that extra snap I’m left wondering: with all this sauce, where’s my hotdog?
JB: I like my hotdogs like my women, not overly saucy. Sometimes at Subway I stand in line behind a morbidly obese person that gets a sub with meat, drenched in sauce and nothing else. I’ve always wondered how these subs tasted. Now I know.

Ketchup, Mustard, Remoulade And Cronions

YU: It’s almost there. It’s polished, it’s clean – but it’s missing something. Something raw. Oooh baby I like it raw.
JB: Ok so this is actually a hotdog that people get when they want the one with everything, but don’t want to be smelling like raw onions the whole day. It’s a smart choice, but only for the more experienced hotdog consumer.

Mustard, Remoulade And Cronions

YU: Ooh, smack your lips for this one – it’s the taste of the dirty south. Enjoy this sweet onion medley, without any of the sharpness of raw onions. It works best when eaten outside, sitting down, and drinking warm milk.
JB: This was good. One of the most surprising combos we’ve had. It is lacking in sweetness, but being diabetic the same thing could be said about me. If I was a hotdog, I would probably be this one [YU: Yeah, that’s not a compliment].

Ketchup, Remoulade And Cronions

YU: The ketchup and remoulade really works, but now there’s an added nose of cronions. Think smooth, think silky, and then surprise! Think crunch.
JB: Why is ketchup so popular? Does it have anything to do with the fact we think it’s made from tomatoes and therefor it’s somewhat healthy? What does it say about a condiment that it’s only enjoyable when you hide it in a sea of other condiments? It doesn’t do anything for this hotdog but ruin it.

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Hungry for more? Read part 2 for the next chapter in hotdog history.


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