If you’re looking for more nonsense from this politically correct, hyper sensitive, be-fearful-of-everything-from-what’s-on-TV-to-video-games era of child rearing in which we are living, look no further than the American Academy of Pediatrics‘s proposal to redesign the hot dog, citing choking hazards. In this article, Dr. Gary Smith, lead author of the AAP policy statement, said:
If you were to find the best engineers in the world and ask them to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, you couldn’t do much better than the hot dog. It is the right shape and the right size to wedge itself in and completely block a child’s airway. It’s only a matter of minutes before permanent brain damage and death occur.
If this is the case, logic would suggest that a good parent wouldn’t let their child eat hot dogs under any circumstance unless they were cut up into small pieces. But why bother with such a pesky thing as logic when we can add choking hazard labels and resign an American tradition. In fact, if we took the latter approach, it would cease to be a hot dog, and according to Eric Hummel, director of marketing for Hummel Brothers Meat Products, such a reinvention wouldn’t even be possible. I was actually driving when I caught this interview with Robert Siegel on NPR. Hummel indicated that
… we’re at a loss on a redesign. You know, when my kids were little, even though I make hot dogs, I would always cut them up into bite-size pieces for them.
SIEGEL: So, that is one way to take an otherwise potentially fatal hot dog and turn it into a benign food for the smallest child.
Mr. HUMMEL: That’s right, that’s right. And, you know, the way we make a hot dog, it would be virtually impossible to make it in really any other shape. And I don’t know if that’s what the pediatricians were getting at, to change the shape. But the recommendation that we always give families with young children is to make sure that the hot dog itself is a skinless hot dog and you try to buy the skinniest ones that we make.
Hummel went on to say:
… when a hot dog is made, the meat is ground up and then it’s put through an emulsifier, which has small little pinholes on it. So, all the meat is pushed through there. So, it comes out the emulsion as more like a dough. And then that dough is put into a casing whether it be a natural casing, a collagen casing or a cellulose casing … So, there’s really no way to stuff that emulsion or dough into anything other than sort of a long narrow casing. There’s no way to make a hot dog in say like a hamburger patty form.
Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, got it right when she told USA Today:
As a mother who has fed toddlers cylindrical foods like grapes, bananas, hot dogs and carrots, I ‘redesigned’ them in my kitchen by cutting them with a paring knife until my children were old enough to manage on their own.
So, what’s next? People choke on steak all the time. I could easily go down for the three-count on my next ribeye, but enough chews and a nearby drink have, thus far, prevented catastrophe. Are we to target butchers now and harangue them into producing even more tender, delicatable steak? Or maybe the cows are at fault …?