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Square Hot Dogs?

In the most ridiculous news I have heard in a while, the AAP is calling for a redesign of the hot dog!!!

Dr. Gary A. Smith, of the AAP, apprently has to justify a government grant to have come up with this bit of logic.

“Any food that has a cylindrical or round shape poses a risk,” he pointed out. Smith said that hot dogs were high on the list of foods that could be redesigned — perhaps the shape, although he said it would be up to the manufacturers to figure out the specifics.

Seriously! Maybe doctors need to instruct parents in the proper way to supervise a child's meal including teaching their children to 1) take small bites, 2) chew thoroughly, and 3) eat slowly. Oh, and actually sitting with them while they are eating would help too!

I love the response from the president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council:

“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,” she said.

Yeah, I can see Dr. Smith attacking the shape of grapes and bananas next!!!

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  1. I'd say any food that is particularly delicious poses a risk, too.

    So let's make all food for kids bland and square.

    My God, there is no stopping the Pleasure Police.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Perilagu Khan

      OMG, I just realized, if food is square...
      They could poke their eyes out!!

    2. I think I saw the same report, and I also did a double-take on the implication that foods might be "redesigned" immediately below the list of dangerous foods including carrots and grapes. ONLY SKINNY CARROTS ALLOWED!

      Like other parents, I simply cut the food up into skinny pieces.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DGresh

        Skinny carrots only?
        But that's discriminating against the fat carrots -- or, shall we say, amply-circumferenced carrots -- and thus promoting body image problems and eating disorders in today's oh-so-impressionable children.


      2. We have never lived in a greater time. So many wonderful people out there to "watch out" for us and especially "for the children".

          1. I read the article as well. First off, I agree that it is ridiculous to call for a redesign. Mother Nature ain't gonna change grapes, and we shouldn't either. I always cut up foods that are questionable for my kids. My almost-6 yr old still prefers hot dogs cut up. Fine by me.

            That said, my SIL works the ER, and lost a 4 or 5 year old patient due to choking on a hot dog. The parents were right there. I think as parents sometimes we get complacent, or just don't do it. SIL's story made me much more aware of the size/shape of food on my kids' plates, even now, years later.

            1. It is a sad day when we, as parents or caregivers for children, have to be told that food is risky if it is round or cylindrical. I did not just fall off of the turnip truck, so I actually knew that giving my toddler a grape was dangerous if I didn't cut it up in small, triangle shaped, pieces. But that isn't square so . . . I'm so bad! Next we will be given special "cutting devices" so we don't lose our minds and forget to be cautious and make sure every piece of food is just right, according to gov't standards. Reminds me of a Monk episode where he was so excited over a square tomato because it fit the sandwich bread perfectly.

              Please don't think I am making light of the situation that elfcook mentioned about the child dying because of choking on a hot dog. It is tragic, but it happens, hopefully not too often. I choked on some chex mix the other day (obviously it wasn't too serious) but it was square, not round! Of course I was "pigging out" on it, so my fault. (Chew Dani, chew!) You just never know, and with kids you take that extra step to prevent choking - without having someone mandating it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: danhole

                actually to be fair it's not the gov't suggesting this, is the American Pediatric Association. And it's much more likely that some company will come out with a $125 "child safe cutting system" to cut our grapes and carrots than for the gov't to mandate it.

              2. I say Darwin was definitely on to something.

                Seriously, I think you zeroed right in on the problem -- parents don't sit with their children when they eat any more. If they did, they would cut their food for them and spend some time with them, teaching them to take human bites while practicing good table manners. Some feed their kids before they eat their own dinner, ignoring them while they do other tasks, or in the car, or the some other place while in motion. Some allow them to run around while eating, which increases the likelihood of choking. I've seen this at the mall food court quite a bit.

                I think the president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council gave a perfect answer.

                2 Replies
                1. re: RGC1982

                  ha, I actually email Dr. Gary A. Smith of the AAP to ask him what the hell he was thinking with his new policy, but needless to say, the man didn't answer me :-)

                  1. re: FoodFuser

                    We should consider and perhaps applaud the role that the Amana corporation has had in decreasing choking hazards with their introduction of the home countertop microwave in 1967.

                    Simply cut the hot dog into 1.5 inch sections, and microwave on full power for 3 minutes. The "blossomed" product (aka the "boom dog") provides plenty of textured surfaces, reducing hazards. The procedure for the perfectly exploded product varies by brand. With experience, shapes can be modeled, as in "The Grand Canyon", "The Tattered Mushroom", and most difficult of all, as it requires notching: "The Golden Gate Arched Bridge."

                2. The part of this that I find the most idiotic is that the issue with most hot dogs comes from their being skinny, not round. I highly doubt kids are choking on a nice, thick hot dog, because they don't fit in the throat until you chew them. The crappy, mass produced, mystery meat hot dogs that most people buy are skinny enough to go down the throat intact. One more reason to buy a high quality hot dog.

                  1. Don't you love statistics:

                    Data in the article:

                    - 17% of choking deaths relate to hot dogs; further down is the statement that one child dies every five days from a hot dog choking = 12.41 deaths per year
                    - Estimates are that 9,000,000,000 hot dogs are sold per year in the US

                    The odds of a choking death from a hot dog is 1 out of ~725,000,000

                    This is not to downplay any death by any means, but 1 out of 700 million odds? Wish they would focus on more widespread issues.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: jfood

                      Perhaps you could or did pass that info along to the APA. I think instead of going out on our icy walkway this morning, I'll just play it safe and stay in and have a hot dog.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Make sure you defrost it on the counter

                      2. re: jfood

                        jfood, thank you for "doing the math"! When you look at the odds that way, it only emphasizes the foolishness of the AAPs policy.

                        1. re: janetms383

                          If we're going to talk about math 365/5 does not equal 12.41.....

                          1. re: Scrapironchef

                            Thanks for the catch...it should read

                            - 17% of choking deaths relate to hot dogs; further down is the statement that one child dies every five days from choking = 12.41 deaths per year from choking on a hot dog

                            1. re: jfood

                              So what were th other 83% caused by? Are hot dogs really the tallest poppy here?

                              1. re: Scrapironchef

                                from google and 2006 article

                                "Candy and gum were the cause of 25% of the choking episodes and in children under the age of four coins made up 18%"

                                Here a list of others:
                                Food items

                                Hot dogs
                                Nuts and seeds
                                Chunks of meat or cheese
                                Whole grapes
                                Hard, sticky candy
                                Chunks of peanut butter
                                Raw vegetables
                                Chewing gum
                                Nonfood items

                                Latex balloons
                                Toys with small parts
                                Toys that fit into a child's mouth
                                Small balls
                                Pen or marker caps
                                Small button batteries
                                Medicine syringes



                                Hope that helps

                                1. re: jfood

                                  Funny, pretzels didn't make the list!

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    I can vouch for the coins. When my son was a baby he found a penny on the floor and choked on it. Fortunately I was right there and upended him and was able to get the penny out. But you can be assured, I scoured the floors from then on.

                          2. re: jfood

                            Good statistics jfood. 1 in 700 mil is a long shot and my chance of winning the Fla. lottery is 1 in 14 mil. if I played

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Or roughly about the same whether you play or not here in CA.

                          3. I think the idea of square dogs is a great one - nothing to do with choking. Just think how much easier it would be to get them nicely browned on all sides. Wouldn't need one of those dog-rollers like you see at the finer snack bars. Three turns and crisp golden goodness abounds! ;)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: butland

                              OMG, no hot dog rollers... What would 7Eleven do?

                            2. I can't eat a Wendy's burger because its square...what the hell am I to do when hot dogs go square too?

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                cut it into long juliennes and put it on a hot dog roll.

                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                  I just had White Castle burgers for lunch. Guess that's out for you also.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    who knew that square burgers freak me the f#*k out!
                                    hee hee

                                  2. re: Beach Chick

                                    But at least you won't choke on a Wendy's hamburger.


                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        Although you may not choke, the exponential increase in sharp square edges that a Wendyburger has will absolutely and without question shred your throat to tatters on the way down. That's why the FDA now requires federal employees to chew each square burger bite 37-39 times before a gulp.

                                        1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                          Phew. I'd been doing that anyway.


                                          1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                            Thanks Salty for the FDA rules..knew their was an inherent reason why I have a phobia for those 'square hamburgers'!

                                      2. This is such old news. When our son was little (he is now 26), the choking hazards of grapes and hot dogs were well-known, and pediatricians advised parents to cut these items in half., which I did.

                                        1. This flickr set is all about possible redesigns. Pretty ingenious, I thought:


                                          I'm sure some people will be grossed out by their meat paste being shaped into a spiral instead of a tube, but I ask what the diff is, myself.

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: dmd_kc

                                              That hotdog "meat spring" looks pretty scary. Think I'll stick to a cylinder!

                                            2. I'll leave it to others to disprove, but if I am not mistaken, the actor Micky Rooney came up with the idea of packaging flat hot dogs to be sold and/or served on/for hamburger buns in the early 80's.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                I'm afraid I beat Mickey to the punch when, in 1972, I had my first experience twixt a hot dog and a microwave. The resulting explosion was illuminating.

                                                Realizing that microwaves were certainly a force in the future, I shaved my dogs henceforth in planer fashion, and grooved them, never to suffer a fragging dog again.

                                                It's possible that other "longevity" stars tried to muscle in on the market. Roddy McDowell's ideas were tainted by that long run on the Planet of the Apes movies, and consumers were dubious of the source and the species of the meat. George Hamilton probably tipped his hat into the fray, but by then, who wanted to grill a hotdog under a tanning booth when microwave was becoming so available.

                                              2. .............hot dogs were high on the list of foods that could be redesigned............

                                                Hey, in a world where diners don't have the brains to NOT eat all their food in restaurants and bring half their meal home (given that it's not a 'small plates' place and the restaurant is generous, that is) in order to NOT become obese, this doesn't surprise me at all.

                                                Personal responsibility? Don't exist. Handing over our lives to a higher authority? Priceless.

                                                1. Won't there be sharp edges on the dogs??


                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                    Yes, so you shouldn't run with them!

                                                  2. They've actually invented a hotdog that breaks apart when cooked to reduce the risk of choking. Seriously. http://www.kansascity.com/2010/06/06/...

                                                    1. I would probably think this idea was more ridiculous if I didn't have a very scary personal experience. I am the oldest of three and When I was 11 or 12 My dad took me and my sisters to a company picnic. For whatever reason my Mom wasn't there that day so it was my Dad and the three of us. We all got hot dogs including my youngest sister who was probably 5 at the time. We were all sitting together, had my dad's full attention and still my sister managed to choke on a hot dog. My dad looked over and she was gasping for breath. He did the Heimlich and she coughed up the troubled piece but you could see he was pretty shaken up about it. He still talks about how scary it was to this day. So with that experience in mind I don't really think it's a terrible idea to have kid friendly hot dogs an option at the supermarket. So long as I can still get my grown up dogs I'm cool with it.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: justlauralibrarian

                                                        Not saying that I want to see square hot dogs, but I agree that when you have been in a situation where someone has choked, it changes your perspective.

                                                        Last September we were at my daughter's elementary school picnic and my 3 year old son was with us too (it was 4 days before his 3rd birthday). It was BYO, and I brought chicken tenders, cut into long thin strips for my kids. My son, who was sitting on our blanket, calmly eating his chicken, stands up, turns around and was standing there looking at us. My husband says "can he breathe"? I instantly realized that he could not breathe. As my husband grabbed our son, turned him upside down and started to pound on his back, I stood up, reached for my cell phone in my pocket to call 911 when I realized that there was no time for EMS to come. It would have been too late. I remembered that close behind me was the mother of a friend of my daughters and this mother was a doctor. I ran to get her, grabbed her and told her that we needed help. She ran over, grabbed my son (who was now a shade of blue), and placed him over her knee to dislodge the piece of chicken. It was a small piece, not a large hunk. I swear I lost 10 years off of my life in those 3 minutes when I almost lost my son. It felt like an eternity. Even just writing about it now is making my heart pound and I occasionally lose sleep over the "what if".

                                                        Again, not saying I want square hot dogs for my kids, because they can choke on anything. And it's not like I wasn't with him or he was running around. I was sitting right there and he was sitting next to me. Thank god he was sitting next to me (and my friend the doctor was on my other side!).