My very best friend in the world, who’s been vegetarian since she was 13, once told me that there are only two meats she ever misses eating: Arby’s roast beef and Vienna sausages. Besides objecting to meat on moral grounds, she just never really warmed up to the taste of animal flesh—unless it was processed until it was unrecognizable in look, taste, and texture as something that had ever lived or breathed. Horsey sauce doesn’t hurt either.
I could put away more than a few Beef ‘N Cheddars, but Vienna sausages always seemed like a bridge too far for a genuine meat-enjoyer like me. Sure, they’re essentially just small hot dogs—and I really like hot dogs!—but why are they floating in clear, room-temperature liquid? And why are they sold in dusty-ass cans at the gas station, right across the aisle from those single-blade lady shavers that cut up your shins? Even if the cans were freshly wiped down by an overachieving clerk, they’d still look dusty. Would Vienna sausages also taste dusty? Honestly, that wasn’t even my biggest fear about these lil tubes of chicken, pork, and beef (and whatever else). My most pressing concern? Biting down on something hard. I really don’t know if I could get a good night’s sleep for a long time if my teeth encountered a piece of gristle or bone in a dusty sausage.
My fears were misplaced. If there’s one word that sums up a Vienna sausage, that word is soft. My coworker Naajia Shukri and I cracked open a can of Libby’s brand Vienna sausages and dug right in with a couple of toothpicks. I genuinely liked them on first bite. In addition to practically dissolving in your mouth, they’re way less salty than I thought they’d be. They’re not exactly bursting with meat flavor, but they’re totally pleasant, especially if you’re doing something wild like dousing them in hot BBQ sauce or making arroz con salchichas. The chicken broth is savory and totally unoffensive. Someone mentioned they’re better heated up, so I popped a couple in the microwave in their juice. I can’t say that it improved the experience all that much, but I suppose they feel like more of a meal that way. Honestly, they’re good.
Armour, the other big name in Vienna sausages, refers to these little meat morsels as a “tasty solution for on-the-go occasions.” I’m not entirely sure what an on-the-go occasion is, but if it calls for something soft in a slightly dusty can, these will do the trick.