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I Tried 4 Popular Gas Station Hot Dogs—This Is the 1 I Can’t Wait To Go Back For

This convenience store just became a destination and not just a pit stop along the way.

<p>Debbie Wolfe/Dotdash Meredith</p>

Debbie Wolfe/Dotdash Meredith

Just as the wheel forever changed human civilization, so too did the invention of the hot-dog roller. Finally, there's a method to evenly cook these tubular treats, keeping them perpetually warm while not incinerating them, and simultaneously displaying them in a tantalizing way (translation: not floating in greasy water) that was easily tong-able for hungry travelers on the go.

It was the biggest thing to happen to frankfurters since the advent of the bun.

The spinning grills have made cameos at carnivals and stadium concession stands, but their natural habitat is and always will be the gas station. And while convenience-store commissaries have evolved into mini-restaurants serving everything from pizza to fried chicken to subs to mac-n-cheese and lending roller space to all sorts of tube-shaped foods like taquitos, egg rolls, corndogs, and cheese-filled buffalo chicken … things, the hot dog is still the quintessential road food—quick, hot, cheap, handheld, and relatively no-mess (unless you’re in Chicago).

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Still, when rating gas-station hot dogs, there’s a wide range of variables from chain to chain and from store to store. There are different types of hot dog (all beef to cheese-stuffed mystery meat medley), selection of toppings (basic ketchup and mustard to taco sauce) and bun-storage methods (plastic-wrapped to steamed). There are also the pitfalls of when during the day the dogs are put out on the rollers, and more importantly, how long they’re left there.

Nevertheless, I hit the road midday to size up four hopefully fresh local gas-station dogs to see who was best in show.

The Best Gas Station Hot Dogs, Ranked

4. 7-Eleven Big Bite

I know from experience that 7-Eleven can deliver on grub, especially when it comes to its 100% all-beef dog. Unfortunately, this time, at this location, the plastic-wrapped buns in the drawer were stale. These icon c-stores typically offer all sorts of toppings from onions to relish to jalapeño peppers. And while the sausage itself was beefy and just the right temp between hot and warm, it was going to take a lot to soften our hearts after getting stiffed by the bread.

3. Huck's Bigg Dog

Even with more than 120 locations in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Huck’s Markets still fly a bit under the radar when it comes to gas-station food. (They are one of the last bastions of Godfather’s Pizza, after all.) Huck’s Markets are actually a reliable source of relatively healthy road food with salads and wraps—but one does not count calories when on a serious hot dog hunt. Our Huck’s side quest started off bumpy, with a stiff but not quite stale bun pulled from a dry and lukewarm steamer drawer and no box, boat, or wrapper to place it in. But the dog itself was plump and juicy—if only I had a way to carry it to the car.

2. On the Run Jumbo Hot Dog

Even though this was our first stop, I was worried about this slightly dark, slightly wrinkled dog. How long had he been waiting here? But in the name of journalism, I soldiered forward—and I'm glad I did. The dog was juicy and not the least bit tough or chewy. In fact, it was probably the beefiest treat I had that day. The bun, which was individually wrapped was cold, though not stale. A solid road-food staple.

1. QuikTrip Hot Dog

<p>Debbie Wolfe/Dotdash Meredith</p>

Debbie Wolfe/Dotdash Meredith

This dog was an entire league above all the rest. First of all, QuikTrip (or QT) knows what it’s doing when it comes to food. It’s commissary is one of the best anywhere outside of a Buc-ees brisket-carving station. And QT usually dedicates an entire aisle (or two) to its roller grills. So we weren’t shocked when we opened the steam drawer and found actual steaming water keeping the buns soft and warm. Then the dog: a 100% all-beef Oscar Meyer wiener. You want toppings? How about your choice of relish Buffalo sauce, sriracha ranch, chipotle, honey mustard, smoky bbq, or gourmet ranch? They even had bacon bits and celery salt. But even with just ketchup and mustard, this was a warm, soft, salty delight. The dog alone is worth making QT a destination rather than just a pit stop on the way. 

Read the original article on All Recipes.