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Hot Dogs and the Jury

Josh Chetwynd has written a new book titled “How the Hot Dog Found its Bun: Accidental Discoveries and Unexpected Inspirations That Shape What We Eat and Drink”.  This book reminds me of arguing with a defense lawyer on a case.  Here’s why:

There have been many to claim that they deserve credit for this  wonderful  gastronomic combination creation.(try saying that real fast) Chetwynd analyzes the various claims and boils (see what I did there) all the claims of invention down to his two real possibilities.

In the 1880’s, there was a St Louis vendor selling hot dogs (actually they were called red hots or frankfurters back then) who saw a problem that needed a solution.

At that time, when he would sell a hot dog, he would usually “lend” customers some white gloves. That helped to keep their hands from being scalded and getting greasy. Unfortunately, it also became a losing proposition for him because customers would walk off with his gloves.

At some family function, the vendor was telling the family about his problem. His brother-in-law happened to be a baker. He came up with the idea of a soft roll, and thus the “hot dog and bun” was born.

The second possible story from Chetwynd supposedly happened a decade earlier in Coney Island, New York. Charles Feltman made his living by pushing a pie cart around and selling sandwiches. Soon, he realized that his business model was not working because his cart could not hold enough sandwiches.

Feltman came up with an idea. Why not sell red hots (hot dogs) and put them in a bun like a sandwich? He could put more of those on his cart, which would create a greater daily profit.

As I read those two stories, they both seem to be believable and they both seem to have some holes in them. If they both made a claim to being the first, it would be hard to argue against it.

Jurors are faced with such decisions in each civil trial. They come to court with some bias or prejudice that could influence their thinking. Ultimately, they have to view the facts and decide which is true. The standard is called the Preponderance of the evidence.

Preponderance really is like just having to get over the 50 yard line on a football field. Or, more than half of a footlong!!!  In a criminal case, the standard is harder to convict… the jury can’t convict if they have a reasonable doubt.

Invention stories are fascinating to me. For instance, the story of the graham cracker inventor is unquestioned.  Sylvester Graham’s motivation was  related to being a vegetarian. His story includes making a lot of people angry that were in the bakery (processed sugar) and meat industry.

For pic o’ day there were a lot of funny ones under hot dogs. This is a reminder for patience!

The Hot Dog Danger

     I was looking for a picture of a hot dog and got distracted. I landed on Big Foot instead of a footlong, Of course, we all know that we really don’t know what we are getting, when we are eating a hot dog.

     I remember being about 10 and being excited about hot dog night at the baseball park. We would go see the Tides in Norfolk; Some baseball and some free hot dogs.

     It was all you could eat. At the age of 10, you take it seriously. It becomes “all you CAN eat”. Plus, the hot dogs made you laugh because the food coloring would come right off in the bun. And, you would even have some shade of red/orange on the lips.

     Unfortunately, we  know that,  just as Big Foot is not a foot long hot dog; a hot dog is really not something that any of us should really be eating very often.

     Now there are advocacy groups that are trying to bring attention to the dangers of hot dogs. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is putting up billboards to publicize the health risks of hot dogs. 

     Another non-profit group has filed suit in New Jersey,  to ask a Judge to require hot dog companies in New Jersey, to include warnings on the sides of hot dog packs. The warning would include that hot dogs increase the risk of cancer.

     The American Institute of Cancer Research has done studies that show that consuming 50-grams of processed meat each day, increases colorectal cancer by 21%.  Most hot dogs are about 50-grams of processed meat.

     Additionally, studies have also connected processed meats to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other types of cancer. Processed meat consumption by children has shown connection to leukemia, ovarian cancer and even an early development of type 2 diabetes..

     Maybe if we didn’t see a hot dog as a friend named Oscar Meyer; or maybe if the package came with a warning that it caused cancer, it might make us think differently at the next cookout or that quick meal at night.

     It’s a  nutritional issue. Should food manufacturers be required to identify the  risks of what they make?  Or,  should government stay out of legislating what parents should feed their kids?

     It’s not just fat grams or sodium; These studies are connecting serious illnesses.

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