Saturday, October 31, 2009

Requiem for a Corn Dog

I know you all come here for posts regarding only the most important topics in the world. Who am I to deny you this vital commentary?

You may know that Melissa and I are big proponents of Morningstar Farms' line of fake meat products (especially the "beef" crumbles for making tacos, the "sausage" patties with a pancake breakfast, the Chik Nuggets, and the fake bacon to toss on a veggie burger), to the point that we've long joked that we should buy stock in the company. Unlike Melissa, I am not a vegetarian, but I enjoy their products. Less fat and cholesterol than the real thing, but still very tasty.

You may also know that I am a corn dog enthusiast, and particularly a fan of "Pronto Pups" at the MN State Fair. Back in college, my friends Whitney and Dan challenged me to try Morningstar's veggie corn dogs, claiming they were as good as the real thing. They were right. It was perfect: they were filling, fast-to-prepare, tasty, and healthier than a meat corn dog. During grad school, having a hot meal I could put together in 2:30 was a great boon, and I was hooked. Morningstar corn dogs became a staple food for me thereafter.

The corn dogs disappeared from shelves this past May, with the mini corn dogs remaining available for a short time after that. Then they disappeared, too, and there was no joy in corndogville (though probably still more joy than in Dogville). Google searches over the summer led to the news that Morningstar had recalled some of their veggie dog products due to problems with their production chain not meeting "good manufacturing practices." Then came news that all their veggie dog and corn dog products were "temporarily out of stock" while they remedied a supply chain issue. Meanwhile there remained a significant hole in my "I need to eat fast and get out of here ASAP" routine. A routine I was quite happy with, thank you very much.

Now I learn that all their veggie dogs have been discontinued. Argh! One niche blogger speculates as to whether this discontinuation could damage Morningstar as a brand. I don't know about that. After all, they still make a bunch of other great products (see above). At SuperTarget, for instance, Morningstar Farms products still take up most if not all of one stack of shelves in the freezer section. It'll take a good deal more erosion to get people to stop buying the remaining products, it seems to me. Plus, hey, they're owned by Kellogg's. Not exactly a small producer easily affected by the loss of one product.

That does, however, raise the question of why they're having such a problem getting a reliable supply of veggie dogs. Surely a company like Kellogg's can find someone to make veggie dogs without doing whatever their supplier was doing before. Hell, now that Reading Rainbow is off the air, they could just take the money they were using to sponsor LeVar Burton's entreaties to not rely solely on his opinion of literature, and spend it buying, I dunno, SmartDogs.

In the meantime, does anyone know where I can get my hands on some vegetarian frozen corn dogs?