Monday, February 22, 2010

Redesigning Lunch

There are roughly 300 million people in the United States. I didn't know if you knew that, Company. What this means, among other things, is that there are hundreds of millions of us who have survived childhood in order to become adults. So why people are freaking out so much about protecting our children I am not really sure. Now, truth be told I am not a parent, but it seems to me that for the last, oh, billion years or so, just sort of watching your children and using common sense and maybe taking them to the doctor every once in a while was a pretty winning formula when it came to child rearing. Apparently, those attributes have disappeared in the West, or maybe we are just lazy, because all the sudden our children need to be protected from everything. The latest evil that is lurking in the shadows waiting to brutally murder our children? The hot dog.

That's right, the hot dog. The most American thing that isn't called apple pie is apparently a major choking hazard for our youth of today, who unbeknownst to me have apparently developed a chewing problem. The American Academy of Pediatrics has decided that hot dogs are of the exact size, shape, and consistency that it takes to chock the fuck out of an adolescent. I guess I am not understand how this happens though. I am not sure about you, Company, but I have never seen an adolescent child deep throat a hot dog. I am not sure anyone ever has. In fact, most little kids that I know have their hot dogs cut up for them by their parents, siblings, care providers, whomever. So are those the pieces that they are choking on? I am not sure what is going on here.

The doctors, of course, aren't giving any help in terms of getting this done. It is awfully easy to just come out of your office and make declarations, but the Academy offered no suggestions for how to reshape this terrible instrument of death. They have left that to the manufacturers. And the manufacturers have responded.

The manufacturers of hot dogs are sort of between the proverbial rock and hard place with this one. They have to be pro children's safety, right? They can't just come out and say "Fuck the children. Tell them to chew better." And it's awfully hard to fly in the face of centuries of frankfurter tradition, now isn't it? But then again, they don't want to be stuck with the bill for the whole thing. So what does one say in that situation? Well the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) responded by saying basically what most of us non-crazy people were thinking:

Food safety and consumer confidence is the number-one priority of the food and beverage industry. We applaud the attention the American Academy of Pediatrics is bringing to the prevention of choking among children. We especially agree that the education of parents, teachers, child care workers, and other child caregivers encouraging them to supervise and create safer environments for children is paramount to the prevention of choking among children. We also strongly agree that pediatricians, doctors and other infant and toddler care professionals should intensify choking prevention counseling including providing parents and care givers guidance on developmentally appropriate food selection for their children. We take our working relationships with FDA and USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] very seriously and look forward to continuing to work with the agencies to ensure that our products are as safe as possible.

Let me sort of sum that up for you: Hey, we don't want kids to choke but we aren't going to redesign the hot dog. Maybe the parents should keep a better watch on the kiddos.

DING DING DING! We have a winner! Maybe we should be watching our chitlins a little bit more carefully. Now, I am not saying that there aren't going to be some tragic, unavoidable hot dog related chokings, there are, but kids choke on M&M's and peanuts and dice and Barbie shoes and ice cubes and just about everything else too. And we aren't clamoring for a redesign of a die, are we? Or is that in the next issue of Pediatrics? I guess that I understand what the pediatricians are going for here, and their hearts are absolutely 100% in the right place. Our kids need to be safe, but in the end I have to agree with the grocers. How about parents do their job and maybe we won't have to totally redesign lunch.

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