Frontlines

The soya dog: the same old dog minus the meat

Marsha Boulton December 11 1978
Frontlines

The soya dog: the same old dog minus the meat

Marsha Boulton December 11 1978

The soya dog: the same old dog minus the meat

Frontlines

Alan Kempton has liked hotdogs ever since he was a boy. Now, at 46, he is building a better hotdog. With the help of a $25,000 research grant from the federal ministry of agriculture, Kempton, a biologist at Ontario’s University of Waterloo, is attempting to create a “soya dog.”

A year and a half into his two-year study of the honorable wiener, Kempton is encouraged by the progress he is making. “By July of next year I think we’ll finally be able to scientifically explain what a good wiener is and how to put it together,” he says confidently of his work. One major problem has been getting such potential ingredients as soybean protein, powdered skim milk and egg white to meld into a perfect, juicy but crunchy package, because “nobody wants a mushy hotdog.” Kempton’s goal is to come up with a hotdog that will be 30 per cent non-meat protein, but still remain a hit at the ball game. With beef prices up more than 70 per cent from last year, hotdogs are feeling the economic squeeze as much as sirloin. A non-meat weenie, then, could be a big part of the “new wave” in food. Even now Kempton believes that

the hotdog is a nutritious, economical and much underrated food for singles and the elderly, “those who just need a couple of wieners and can keep the rest refrigerated for a week or so.”

But it is that ability of packaged meats like hotdogs to be kept refrigerated “for a week or so” that has raised a furor over their preservatives. Commercial hotdogs generally contain sodium nitrite, which has been identified as a potential cancer-causing agent.

On this aspect of his hotdog Kempton isn’t proposing changes; the soya version will likely use the same additives as its meaty host.

And while the soya dog may not be the perfect frankfurter of the future, the bun may be another cause for worry. American nutritionist H. L. Newbold reports that hotdog buns contain certain additives that can make an individual more aggressive and violenceprone. Marsha Boulton

Marsha Boulton