It's becoming more common and mainstream to see hot dogs and sausages labeled "nitrate free" these days. Even Costco sells some nitrate free meats now. While this is a step in the right direction, I think it's still important to be cautious when buying these products. Again, make sure to read the ingredient label! I've been disappointed so many times when finding a product that looks great on the front, only to turn it over and read that it still contains sugar or dextrose, along with other additives. So many of the nitrate free hot dogs still contain plenty of other ingredients I wouldn't want my family to eat. And I have to wonder why would they add sugar to hot dogs, of all things? The only reason I can think of is that we as a culture have become so addicted to the taste of sugar that we need to have it in everything, including hot dogs.
There are two brands of hot dogs that I deem acceptable for my family. Shelton's Turkey Franks and Applegate Farms Hot Dogs. Of these two, I find the Applegate Farms Hot Dogs to be superior in taste and texture. Applegate has beef, chicken, and turkey dogs.
A final note about hot dogs - When serving them to your children, PLEASE be sure to use safety guidelines by first slicing them lengthwise after cooking, and then cutting them into small, bite-sized pieces. And always supervise a child eating a hot dog. Hot dogs are a leading cause of choking deaths in children because the circumference of a hot dog is the same as that of a child's throat. A round hot dog chunk can act as a perfect plug. While children (and adults) of any age need to be careful, it is especially important to monitor little children. I know this firsthand because I choked on a hot dog as a small child. Fortunately my dad was right there and used the Heimlich Maneuver to save my life!