Raleigh, N.C. — In the 1990s, in the suburbs outside of Chicago, there was a little restaurant called Luke's.
I don't remember how the restaurant looked other than splashes of red paint and something about the Fox River. But I remember Luke's hot dogs.
The dogs were hot and served on a poppy seed bun. To be frank, there is not a hot dog in the world that compares to a Luke's dog – paid for by my mom because I was 6 years old.
Like buttery mashed potatoes or watching reruns of "Drumline" starring Nick Cannon, hot dogs are comfort food. They're familiar, and they remind me of a time when I didn't have to buy things with my own money.
Earlier this year, Burger King made a mockery of one of my favorite foods when they introduced their Classic Grilled Dog and Chili Cheese Grilled Dog. The measly, flame-grilled cry for attention was never going to stick, and I would never buy one.
I ate three of them last week.
The Burger King around the corner from the office was bustling with activity as I walked up to the counter.
"How are you?" I asked the employee working the register.
He stared back at me.
So, I ordered a dog with mustard, a chili cheese dog and one with the works – mustard, onion, relish and ketchup. As I waited, at least one other customer claimed his order, which included the King's hot dogs.
I snatched the bag of food from the employee, and I bolted from the restaurant so I wouldn't be seen with ketchup on a hot dog. Sorry, Chicago.
The hot dogs peddled by Burger King were small and looked nothing like they did in the commercials. When dressed properly—with just mustard—the hot dog was as good as can be expected from a national fast food chain: The bun was a little stale, but it was edible.
The chili cheese dog is where things began to fall apart.
Expecting good chili from Burger King is like expecting a good hot dog from Burger King. Combine the bland chili with the (overly) salty hot dog and it became a mess both in my hands and in my memory.
But even the chili wasn't the worst part of the all-beef experience.
On top of the final frank was a sloppy streak of dark green relish. The sweetness of the relish was enough to overpower the saltiness of the hot dog. It was so hard to swallow that, in this case, it bumped ketchup out of the top spot for worst condiment on a hot dog.
(Adding BK's relish to the order contributes 4 grams of sugar, according to the company's website. Ketchup added another 1 gram.)
The Burger King hot dogs are unsurprising; no better and no worse than expected—which might be the biggest problem.