Choke-Proof Hotdogs: What’s Next? Outlawing Grapes?

Any mother worth her title knows that grapes are the number one choking hazard. At my kid’s pre-school, they actually make parents cut up grapes due to the risk. No warning on hotdogs, though. Until now:

Nutritionists have long warned of the perils of hot dogs: fat, sodium and preservatives to name a few.

Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants foods like hot dogs to come with a warning label – not because of their nutritional risks but because they pose a choking hazard to babies and children.

Better yet, the academy would like to see foods such as hot dogs “redesigned” so their size, shape and texture make them less likely to lodge in a youngster’s throat. More than 10,000 children under 14 go to the emergency room each year after choking on food, and up to 77 die, says the new policy statement, published online today in Pediatrics. About 17% of food-related asphyxiations are caused by hot dogs.

“If you were to take the best engineers in the world and try to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, it would be a hot dog,” says statement author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “I’m a pediatric emergency doctor, and to try to get them out once they’re wedged in, it’s almost impossible.”

Full disclosure: I got yelled at a lot because I didn’t cut up the grapes, so you probably know where I’m going with this.

Could America get any less risk-averse? I mean really.

This is the country that conquered the West, sent a man to the moon and just beat Canada’s ass in hockey and we’re going to re-design a hotdog so kids don’t choke?

What kind of message do we send to our kids when we mitigate against every little risk? We send a message that Americans are WEENIES. Kid-sized weenies and big, overbearing, obsessive parenting weenies.

With all the problems in the world, hotdogs should be relegated to the category of awesome. I do not want to go out to the baseball park and eat a re-engineered hotdog. In the future, however, I shall praise my own courage in buying a foot-long at the park. I ate the whole thing without choking! I could have died!!

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