[Editor's Note - With the Fourth of July hot dog eating contest taking place later today, we thought it was important to revisit this column protecting the sanctity of America's favorite tube-shaped processed foodstuff, which originally ran on the site on February 22, 2010.]
I’ve officially had it with parents.
I sat idly by while your children’s mysterious allergies, which no one had ever heard of until a few years ago, suddenly forced airlines to stop giving out free peanuts on flights.
I let it slide when you ruined Hollywood by forcing them to create a nonsensical ratings system run by a bunch of asinine morons who assign R and PG-13 ratings on a whim, causing moviemakers to water down films in arbitrary ways in order to turn a profit.
I even begrudgingly accepted it when your complaints over the slightest hint of Janet Jackson’s nipple unleashed a chain of events that ruined television and radio and ultimately forced us to endure a terrible halftime show put on by a bunch of aging rockers whose only relevance these days is that one of their songs is the theme to a show where David Caruso rattles off cheesy one-liners.
But now you’ve gone too far. And this time, I refuse to take your bullshit lying down.
What was the overprotective straw that broke the camel’s back? The American Academy of Pediatrics would like hot dogs to be redesigned to reduce the risk of children choking on them.
“If you were to take the best engineers in the world and try to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, it would be a hot dog,” said Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “I’m a pediatric emergency doctor, and to try to get them out once they’re wedged in, it’s almost impossible.”
First of all, why is this sick bastard hiring engineers to design plugs for children’s airways? Is he a supervillian? I really don’t think we should be listening to anyone who thinks like that – unless, of course, we are only humoring him to buy time until Superman shows up to punch his lights out. Still, Lex Luthor continues …
“No parents can watch all of their kids 100 percent of the time,” Smith says. “The best way to protect kids is to design these risks out of existence.”
But can we really find a way to completely design risks out of existence? We should probably start by getting rid of forks, spoons and knives since those all have sharp edges. And really, when you get right down to it, all food could potentially cause a child to choke, not just hot dogs – so we better switch to an all liquid diet. Oh, and let’s get rid of electrical outlets too, since a child could stick a finger in there when our backs are turned. Tables, other furniture and many household items have sharp corners, so we better lose all that stuff to protect kids from bumping into them. In fact, let’s just remove everything from our homes and pad the walls like a mental institute to keep the children safe. Better yet, we’ll just put the kids in plastic bubbles, dressed in full hockey pads and helmets, so that they never come in contact with germs, hazardous foods or any other dangers in the world.
Look, I’m not here to tell you how to raise your kids. I’m sure being a parent is terrifying. You are free to spoil your kid, giving them a soft name like Blaine or Tucker or Riley and convincing them that they are special and nothing is ever their fault in order to protect their fragile little egos. You can write harsh letters to your school chastising them for having “barbaric” sports like dodgeball and tug of war if it helps you sleep better at night. You can organize a protest over the horrible practice of keeping score at your kid’s t-ball game, which means your kid has a 50/50 chance of feeling like a loser. You can hold the kid back from camping trips and field trips and sleepovers at their friends’ houses. You can go out of your way to sanitize and protect every aspect of your child’s life so that your kid never has to feel sad or inept or in danger. It may seem silly to me, but it’s your right as an overprotective parent.
But I’m a grown man – a man with no children who enjoys hot dogs and popsicles and all of the other wonderful foods that Gary Smith believes were genetically engineered to harm children. In fact, I ate these foods at countless picnics, barbecues and birthday parties growing up and somehow miraculously survived. So did all of you. That’s in part because our parents were smart enough to do the same thing Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, does.
“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,” said Riley.
Thank you, Janet Riley. Not only do you have one of the coolest jobs on the planet, but you also actually have common sense. I’m sure your children are going to end up being awesome.
You overprotective wingnuts out there looking to deprive us all of a staple of ballparks and street venders everywhere should take a page out of Mrs. Riley’s book. Leave the poor hotdogs alone. America’s wieners are perfect just the way they are.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at email@example.com.