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Remaking the Hot Dog

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With baseball season fast approaching, there’s a pressing issue that goes beyond pitchers and catchers, squeeze bunts and any postseason predictions you might have.

What are we going to do about the hot dog?

hot-dogs.jpgAs you may have read recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a redesign of that most American of delicacies. Sure, a lot of us grew up eating them. They’ve long been a symbol of summer, the easy-to-grill, quick-to-eat meal that can get a little messy, okay — but what’s a little mustard around your mouth or in your seat? Well, there’s a bigger problem here. Hot dogs also pose a choking hazard, causing about 17% of food-related asphyxiations, according to the academy.

"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," Dr. Gary Smith, lead author of the AAP policy statement, told AOL News recently.

This isn’t a revelation. Of course hot dogs can get caught in your throat! So can a lot of foods. That’s why we’re taught to take small bites, and to chew thoroughly before swallowing. What’s next? Grapes? Popcorn? Actually, yes, and yes. The academy also called out foods like popcorn, grapes, nuts and raw carrots.

Not to downplay the seriousness of choking and other emergencies, but at a certain point you have to give way to consumer responsibility and education. Solving this problem should be up to the parents, not the food companies. If the mission is to make our food failsafe, pretty soon we’ll all be sucking mush from a straw.

On the plus side, some people have really taken the call for a redesign to heart, and the results are pretty entertaining. You’ve got versions that are coiled, hollow in the middle, notched on both sides, and my favorite — the half-pipe design with a reservoir for condiments. Because if you’re going to change the hot dog, at least leave more room for mustard and ketchup.

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