By Anthony Clegg
The hot dog has been a staple of the human diet since that first
fatty frankfurter was fashioned in Germany in 1484.
The modern manifestation of the hot dog was later introduced to
America in 1867 by a vendor looking for a portable means to sell
This Brooklyn-based vendor launched the very first hot dog
stand. Since then, the hot dog has become something of an American
It appears now, however, that the hot dog design is no longer up
to par, or so says a leading group of pediatricians pushing for a
redesign of such popular foods as hot dogs and certain candies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has listed hot dogs and small
round candies as leading foods that present serious choking hazards
As such, they are asking the hot dog and candy industries to
change the shape of their products from round shapes to something
less likely to cause esophageal obstructions.
The AAP does not suggest an appropriate shape and are leaving
that for the food manufactures to decide.
Students, however, are hesitant toward radically changing such
staple products as hot dogs.
“If they changed the shape of hot dogs, they would not be hot
dogs anymore,” said Victor Pham, a fifth-year civil engineering
student. “It would be a hamburger, or bologna or even Spam.”
Some students also believe changing the hot dog would have some
effect on other aspects of their lives.
“How could some go to a baseball game and not eat the classic
baseball hot dog,” said Jose Vallejo, a fifth-year civil
There are also those who view changing the shape of candies to
present a possible different health risk to children.
“Well, if they made candies into cubes or something, I think
that could pose a greater health risk because of sharp edges,” said
Danielle Libring, a fourth-year civil engineering student.
The issue with small round foods, however, may not lie with the
food manufactures. There are those who argue that instead of
changing the food shape for children safety, it is the
responsibility of parents to teach children good eating habits.
“I know my parents used to say ‘chew your food before you
swallow,'” said Michael Jung, a ninth-year mechanical engineering
student. “Besides, instead of changing the shape the companies
could just make the food smaller, like M&Ms.”
Parents across the nation, however, may not be doing enough to
In a recent statement, the AAP has described that on average,
10,000 young people are taken to the hospital each year for food
related esophageal blockage and up to 77 children die each year
These foods are not limited to hot dogs and candies, though, and
can include grapes, nuts and practically anything people can
In a recent interview with USA Today, Janet Riley, president of
the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, shared Jung’s attitude
toward a parent’s role in helping children with higher risk
“As a mother, [I] fed [my] toddlers cylindrical foods like
grapes, bananas, hot dogs and carrots,” said Riley. “I ‘redesigned’
them in my kitchen by cutting them with a paring knife until my
children were old enough to manage on their own.”
Like Cal Poly students, people of an older generation share
similar sentiments about how hot dogs should remain unchanged.
“When I used to go to the market with my mother when I was five
or six years old, she would be buying meat and the butcher would
cut off a link of hot dog for me,” said William McClary, an
87-year-old retired realtor. “I ate them right there in front of
everybody and that’s the only way I like a hot dog: Plain.”
Furthermore, McClary offered a similar parental solution to the
choking issues associated with such foods as hot dogs.
“Everybody likes a hot dog in the shape it is in,” said McClary.
“If for small children, parents want to cut up the hot dog, that’s
fine. Changing the shape though would be terrible.”
Reach Anthony Clegg at: email@example.com
Illustration by Roland Tran
Hot dogs too dangerous to eat?
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