The official hot dog of summer received a makeover this year. Oscar Mayer wieners now boast no added nitrates, nitrites, or other artificial preservatives. The move, by parent company Kraft Heinz, shows that the clean-label food trend has gone fully mainstream.
“Oscar Mayer is America’s most iconic hot dog brand, and, as the equity leader, we felt it was time to take a stand for the love of a better hot dog,” said Greg Guidotti, the brand’s head of marketing, in announcing the change.
Guidotti stressed that the new dogs have the same great taste and the same price as the former versions. The announcement punned that Oscar Mayer went to “great lengths” in its product development, which took more than a year of recipe testing and tinkering.
But the recipe could change again. Careful label readers will learn that the frankfurters contain celery juice—a natural source of nitrites—to replace the sodium nitrite preservative that was added. In the U.S., labeling rules allow celery juice to be listed as a natural flavor but require a disclaimer noting the use of natural nitrite sources.