Hot Dog Sauce Taste Off! Tony Packo’s vs. Rudy’s

Tony Packo's vs Rudy's Hot Dog Sauce ©RhondaAdkinsPhotography

When the F-15 jets left Great Falls we thought that meant that McGyver’s job had left too. In a sense it did, as in there isn’t a job here for him anymore. Fortunately he still had time on his contract so his company is using him to provide IT/CISSP assistance at different bases. Atlantic City, Texas, Fresno and everyone’s favorite tourist destination Toledo Ohio. It was just a few weeks ago that McGyver found himself in Toledo, home of the Mud Hens minor league baseball (they’ll get no ribbing from me, our minor league team is the Voyagers and our mascot is a green baseball headed alien…) but more importantly it’s the home of Klinger (Jamie Farr) from one of our favorite series M*A*S*H. If you’ve ever watched M*A*S*H, you may have remembered an episode where Klinger talks about Tony Packo’s hot dogs.

After a little reading I found out that Tony Packo’s was mentioned in five separate M*A*S*H shows, one of which they got the hot dogs shipped over. McGyver couldn’t let an opportunity like this go to waste. He made sure to get himself a nice classic hot dog with their famous sauce, and he enjoyed every bit of it. Whilst in Toledo, McGyver learned of another legendary hot dog place called Rudy’s Hot Dog. Well fair is fair so McGyver stopped by Rudy’s to see what the other hotdog joint had to offer. McGyver quickly fell in love with Rudy’s also, so now what?

Being the smart man that he is, McGyver picked up a couple of cans of Rudy’s Hot Dog sauce, went back to Tony Packo’s and bought a couple of cans of their hot dog sauce and brought them home to his family, and mainly of course for culinary curious wife. We wasted no time digging into them, we had a hot dog and movie night all was good. We made comparisons, talked about each one and picked our favorite (which wasn’t easy I tell ya). To be fair though, we decided that we should have a second taste off to be sure. Shoot we couldn’t just let those cans of goodness sit around, now could we?

After my first piggy episode, I thought that this would make a great post, I mean, you never know when you might end up in Toledo, right! Before we dig in, I found out a little bit about both of these hot dog places. Rudy’s was actually the first business, it was founded in 1920 by Uncle Rudy Poturedes initially as a hot dog stand and now a chain of six restaurants. After Uncle Rudy passed away in 1960 the Dionyssiou brothers took over (you can see Greek influence on their menus). Rudy has been a long standing iconic business in Toledo, not changing much, as a matter of fact they pride themselves on the fact that the Rudy’s “retro” nostalgia will always remain. For the full history click here.

Tony Packo’s story is a little different, he and his wife got a loan from relatives in 1932 and opened a sandwich and ice cream shop. Once prohibition lifted in 1933 Tony added beer to his establishment. Tony was a Hungarian-American and lived in a Hungarian neighborhood in Toledo, therefore when he created his own hot dog, it was deemed a Hungarian hot dog. Tony quickly rose to success and by 1935 they were able to buy their own building where Tony’s is still today (with some more additions). The real fame came, not surprisingly, through the M*A*S*H connection. Tony’s isn’t just famous for their dogs, their buns are famous too. That started in 1972 when Burt Reynolds was persuaded by letter to eat at Tony Packo’s. While there Burt autographed a hot dog bun and started a new trend at Tony’s. Now they have many celebrities, including presidential candidates, which have participated in the ‘bun signing’. For more history click here.

Are you ready to ruuuummmmbbbbble? Let the taste off begin!

Immediately, with the cans side by side, you can see that there is a difference in size…does size matter? Each can serves approximately the same number with the same size serving. Apparently in this case size does not matter.

Tony Packo's vs Rudy's Hot Dog Sauce ©RhondaAdkinsPhotography

I opened each can and poured or scooped them into a bowl. My first reaction was that Rudy’s was by far more appetizing looking. I wasn’t ready to make a judgment yet, I know that these sauces are served warm and many foods look more appealing once warmed.

Tony Packo's vs Rudy's Hot Dog Sauce ©RhondaAdkinsPhotography

Tony’s sauce was no exception. Once warmed it loosened up and could easily be spread on a hot dog.

Tony Packo's vs Rudy's Hot Dog Sauce ©RhondaAdkinsPhotography

As far as the hot dog itself goes, I did not have a Hungarian hot dog, or a Rudy’s dog so I selected what I thought would best honor these sauces and chose a skinless hot dog made by Nathan’s Famous. I hope the Hungarian and Greek’s don’t mind me using a hot dog created by a Polish immigrant (talk about the melting pot of America). I felt it was the best choice since these hot dog sauces/hot dogs are really “Coney Island” style, which is exactly how I served them. First I boiled the hot dogs and then I steamed the buns to give them a more authentic taste and texture.

Check out my brilliant make-shift bun steamer! I placed a cooling rack over the boiling water/hot dogs, I put the buns on the rack, slightly open and then made a foil tent to trap the steam. It worked perfectly! (photos taken with iPhone)

  Hot Dog Bun Steamer      Hot Dog Bun Steamer

Both websites and their menus listed the hot dogs to be served with yellow mustard, diced onion and their hot dog sauce. I wanted to do this exactly right so I followed their photos and placed the mustard on first. But I couldn’t hold back the food photographer in me…I placed the onions on top just because it looked prettier. I’m sure it was still fine.

Tony Packo's vs Rudy's Hot Dog Sauce ©RhondaAdkinsPhotography

I began by tasting the sauces first on their own and then experiencing them with the hot dog. After I made my notes I consulted McGyver and the Baby boy for their opinions. I’ve outlined them below.

        Tony Packo’s Sauce                Rudy’s Sauce

Color:                     Paprika    *                                          Brown

Viscosity:              Thick/stay in place*                     Thinner but not too thin

Texture:                Coarse and grainy                           Coarse and meaty*

Flavor (alone) Tony’s:    Strong chili taste initially followed by a bit of spice followed by a bit of spice and a paprika finish

Flavor (alone) Rudy’s: Meaty flavor with a mild chili taste and a  tomato-ish finish*

Flavor (w/dog) Tony’s:    Acts as a flavor enhancer,  the spice is less noticeable but  still zippy, brings out the meatiness of the dog, marry’s well with the mustard and onions*

Flavor (w/dog) Rudy’sClassic Coney dog flavor, slightly messy, the hot dog  takes forefront in flavor. Pairs  well with the mustard and onions, finishes with a beefy flavor

*indicates our preferences

And the winner is……

Tony Packo’s Hot Dog Sauce

Tony Packo's vs Rudy's Hot Dog Sauce ©RhondaAdkinsPhotography

Overall the family favorite in flavor, color and viscosity was Tony Packo’s especially since we prefer our food a little on the spicy side, it also had a more unique flavor, that something special that you would only find in Toledo.

If your family prefers a milder spice, than Rudy’s would be the better choice as it was certainly very tasty.

On the technical side here are there ingredients:

Tony Packo’s: beef, water, chili spice (chili pepper, spices) textured vegetable protein (soy flour, caramel color), sugar, salt, modified corn starch, garlic, soy lecithin

Rudy’s: Beef, water, seasoning (salt, spices, paprika, chili pepper, onion, and garlic) modified food starch

Nutritional Value (2 tablespoon serving):

Tony Packo’s: 90 calories, 8g fat, 140mg sodium, 2g carbohydrates, 4g protein

Rudy’s: 45 calories, 3g fat, 180mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 3g protein

Based on the labels alone I would have been more drawn to Rudy’s, I like their smaller more natural ingredient list and it’s less caloric and has less fat. But then again, who’s eating a hot dog to be healthy?

On another note when McGyver had mentioned to one of the Tony Packo’s staff that he was buying their sauce and had already bought Rudy’s because his wife was a food writer/blogger the girl got very excited and gifted us a jar of their “Sweet Hots”.

I tasted these bad boys and fell in love with them immediately! They were the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, I love that there were peppers and garlic in the jar and that the pickles were thick cut. As you can see from my previous picture that over half the jar is gone…I can’t help myself they are delicious. Although I was gifted a jar of these pickles, the opinion is unsolicited and is all mine. I honestly wished I had more of these. This will be my pickling challenge this year…to create my own version since I don’t have a Tony Packo’s in my neighborhood.

If you are interested in trying the hot dog sauces or other products both Tony Packo’s and Rudy’s products can be ordered via their websites.





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16 Responses to Hot Dog Sauce Taste Off! Tony Packo’s vs. Rudy’s

  1. Debra April 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    These look fantastic. Sometimes when we’re feeling really bad we pick up wieners, buns and wolf brand chili for a guilty dinner. The hubs has to travel to Ohio in June and I am sending him to see if he can find a couple of cans. (I wonder if he can find them in Cleveland?). Great post, Rhonda and McGyver!!!!!!!!! (Great bun steamer tip, too, )

  2. Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) April 20, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    I want me some of those hot dog sauces. Never heard of either.

    • Giggles April 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      They are a fun experience. you’ll have to through a hot dog party and serve them sometime.

  3. Karen April 21, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Nice review of both, and it’s cute that McG brought home food for you 🙂

    • Giggles April 21, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      He knows what makes the little wife happy 😉

  4. Steve January 14, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    It’s funny, I grew up in Toledo and never had Tony Paco’s. It wasn’t until I joined the Air Force and moved away that I finally came home and gave it a try. I grew up on Rudy’s and it will always be my favorite … cheaper too! Cheers to you, this was a great article.

    • greg russell February 2, 2016 at 4:38 am #

      Rudys is the bomb, of Hot dogs my mom worked at Rudys when she was pregnate for me and she ate her share of hot dogs at that time when I was in jr high school and High school i lived around the corner from Rudys and once again My Mom was working at Rudys on Glendale and we lived on cass rd
      When i got off the school bus I went to Rudys for my daily hot dog nobody makes a better sauce and last I knew you can buy Rudys sauce at Toledo Kroger stores

      • Giggles February 3, 2016 at 4:05 pm #


        Sounds like Rudy’s was a big part of your life! It’s nice to know that you can get it at the local grocery stores also.


  5. Kristi February 3, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    I grew up in Toledo and while I loved the atmosphere of Paco’s (live jazz bands), Rudy’s will always hold a special place in my heart. As a kid we had Rudy’s as a treat for dinner, instead of McDonald’s. I now live an hour away but take my family as a treat. Best hot dog ever!!

    • Giggles March 12, 2015 at 3:44 pm #


      It’s amazing when you grow up on a certain food/brand that it becomes so special, as soon as you have a bite it takes you right back to those great times. I think it’s great that you are sharing those memories with your family even though it’s an hour away.


  6. Tonya March 9, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    I love both the pickles and sauce. Our local grocery stores (Toledo) carry both items. And I have found them at Michigan stores at times.

    • Giggles March 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm #


      How lucky for you that you can pick them up at the grocery store. My hubby recently went back on business again, this time I had him pick up a half dozen cans!


  7. Tim Saxer April 26, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

    Grew up in Toledo. Packo’s and Rudy’s are great coney dogs, however, Dudley’s on South Reynolds was the absolute best coney dog. Their cheeseburgers were also very good. Sad to say they’re closed. I now live in Fairbanks, Alaska and unfortunately, no one up there has even heard of a coney island hot dog!
    I also remember a small hot dog shop in the shopping center on the south side of Dorr Street as you headed west past Dorr/Reynolds intersection. I can’t remember the name, but it was a great coney dog!
    Whenever I visit Toledo, I eat at Rudy’s/Packo’s just about every day and try to get my fix! If anyone remembers the small shop I mentioned above, it would be great to recall the name.

    • Giggles April 26, 2016 at 11:32 pm #

      Tim, sorry I didn’t get to experience Dudley’s, sounds like I missed out on a great Coney’s Dog.

  8. Pam Nichols Rudzki October 20, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

    I am originally from Toledo, Point Place exactly. Whenever my husband & I go back for a visit, the first place we stop is Rudy’s for our hot dog fix. Packo’s is good, but we prefer Rudy’s. we now live in Idaho, so we have to depend on mail order.

    • Giggles October 20, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

      Pam, I’m finding out how loyal the people from Toledo are on Packo’s versus Rudy’s. Everyone says they are both great but they prefer one over the other. Thank goodness for mail order!