Really, Europe? Hot Dogs in a Can?

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The next time your European friend tries to play the Old World sophistication card in your discussion of world events, we have the perfect counter … wieners in a can!

And we bring two shining examples of these abominations of American cuisine:

Plumrose Premium Giant Hotdogs and Ye Olde Oak American Style Hot Dogs – the very fact that there are two prove that this is not just the random misjudgment of a single entrepreneur, but a niche in the European market that is at once embarrassing and lucrative.

Plumrose emphasizes the American-ness of its product by showing a cartoon American football player on the label. As an aside, the dogs are made up of turkey parts and, as every red-blooded American knows, the turkey was almost the symbol of the United States, but lost out to the eagle.

Ye Olde Oak relies heavily on the customer’s ability to recognize faux Old English spelling, and features its own cartoon figure – a Yankee Doodle Dandy-like dude called Captain Hot Dog. These “tube steaks” are also heavily promoted as being  packed in brine. As if that were a good thing.

And so, citizens, let us bask in the superiority of our very own, packed-in-plastic, meat and sort-of-meat byproduct star of grills and picnics nationwide … the American frankfurter!

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Does the World Really Need Spiked Popsicles?

Flickr photo by Will Luo

Poptails” … the spiking of popsicles with alcohol … now, to us this sounds like a felony instead of a fun summer refreshment.

It is an admittedly great bridge into the drinking world. Every kid loves a cold fruity treat on a stick. What better way to ease into adult fun? Or lure into inappropriate adult activities?

We don’t think we’re being overly suspicious here. This is how the eHow Website’s Food section explains the appeal:

Mid-day martinis may cause some heads to turn, but cocktails on a stick — aka “poptails” — are a perfectly acceptable daytime (or anytime) summer treat!

Acceptable to whom? Why, to those who know they cannot get away with their “mid-day martinis” any more.

So if the captain of your tour boat or the lifeguard on your beach is sucking on that popsicle just a little too desperately this summer, try to picture him or her sipping on that third martini instead, and take appropriate action.

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Farms Are for Pigs, Not Salmon!

From Flickr Creative Commons by Dan Hershman

Okay, to start off we feel we should admit that the very first spark of an image that flashed into our heads when we heard the term “salmon farms” was lines of workers planting salmon into the ground.

Yes, it’s a silly and childish thought, but we’re the better for getting that off our chests.

Now …

It’s a witty term for the commercial raising of fish – aquaculture!

In recent years, fish farming has dramatically increased because about half the world’s waters have been exhausted by overfishing. Consumer demand for a lean protein food has severely depleted wild fish stocks.

But it seems that, just like people, salmon need to be free.

Salmon are pigs (see the irony of our headline now?) They are voracious eaters of smaller species, it takes several pounds of wild fish, ground up into meal, to yield one pound of farmed salmon — an exchange that even further depletes the world supply of protein from the sea.

Also, plagues of destructive sea lice that thrive in densely packed salmon pens contaminate wild stocks when some of the farmed fish escape into the wild, spreading the diseases that further decimate wild stocks.

So, if you’re looking for a different kind of T-shirt message, we suggest: The “L” is Silent, But Don’t You Be – FREE THE SALMON!

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5-Hour Energy Drink: Because Cocaine Is Illegal

Flickr photo by mararie

The 5-Hour Energy Drink burst upon us in TV commercials like this week’s hot singer on American Idol. Suddenly there it was – the perfect, legal halfway point between coffee and cocaine.

You can stay awake and alert for hours (like coffee and crack), suddenly feel smarter than you are (like coke), with no Charles Bukowski-like crash (and there’s the major improvement over the white powder).

But is all that true? It acts a lot like the illegal stuff.

They say their competition is coffee, but … sniff, sniff … we know what time it is.

You know how pharmaceutical products have to list the possible side effects in their commercials, right? And you have probably thought, “Gee, those side effects sound worse than the ailment.” Well, here are a few of the complaints 5-Hour Energy Drink users have experienced, not for an ailment, but for a malady called “I’m a little sleepy”:

Niacin flush (a burning sensation on face and legs, and redness of skin), dizziness, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, insomnia (complain about sleepiness, will you?), chest pain, and numbness in the arms and legs.

5-Hour Energy Drink is not recommended for children under the age of 12, pregnant women, and people who have high blood pressure. We would extend that non-recommendation to every living person.

So here’s an idea … how about getting enough sleep at night?

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Fried Kool-Aid Balls

8 - Deep Fried Kool Aid

Some bad ideas you know instinctively.

Ideas like petting a wolverine. Or naming your child “Apple” (sorry Gwyneth). To these obvious, no-brainer horrible decisions we would add Fried Kool-Aid Balls.

Each part could make the Hall of Fame of Bad Ideas:

Fried – The quickest way to take the nutritional value out of any food.

Kool-Aid – Agitating, revving up and brainwashing America’s youth for 80 years.

Balls – Enough said.

And yet the whole is worse than the sum of its parts.

Just as the modern-thinking, secular among us begin to doubt the existence of Satan, Lucifer or whatever you choose to call that symbol of pure evil in the world, along comes a product like Fried Kool-Aid Balls, and no other explanation seems to fit.

Even so … you’re going to try them, aren’t you? Oh, come on. You know you are.

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Mommy, Where Do Eggs Come From?

From Flickr Creative Commons by woodlywonderworks

Consumers who wish to consume only “cage-free” eggs find themselves in a bit of a dilemma. Actually, a giant 400-pound gorilla of a fundamental dilemma:

It’s impossible to tell – either through taste or by visual observation – whether an egg was brought forth from a free-range mother or a caged one.

So does that mean you have to rely on the word of the egg vendor? (This is where you would expect us to come up with an alternative, right? Not this time.) The answer is yes.

The truth is that the government lacks jurisdiction to verify claims made by egg producers. Major animal welfare laws don’t cover laying hens. The sad fact is that your sunny side ups may have come from a happy, contented bird or a horribly abused one.

Organizations like Animal Welfare Approved attempt to certify eggs from well-treated hens, but it’s all really a crap-shoot. The bottom line is: How much do you trust the people who sell you your eggs?

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How Do You Like Chem Apples?

That’s chem, as in chemicals, as in pesticides.

From Flickr Creative Commons By Muffet

The latest news is that apples led what The Environmental Working Group calls its “Dirty Dozen” of most pesticide-laden fruits and veggies.

For those of us who watch these sort of races as if they were the Kentucky Derby and the Daytona 500 combined, the thrill of apples overtaking celery as the fruit or vegetable most contaminated was … well, almost too exciting to bear.

Why is that?

Because celery just doesn’t get anyone’s juices flowing. It’s not really what you’d call must-have. If the forbidden food in the Garden of Eden had been celery, you just know that the whole Adam and Eve thing would have turned out for the better.

But one bad apple story spoils a whole bunch of people’s days.

When news organizations worldwide took notice, pro-apple advocacy groups faced off against the list and its supporters. Apples were everywhere in the news. Suddenly they were the Lady Gaga of the fruit universe.

Eat them? Don’t eat them?

What is an apple-lover to do? Resuming your average consumption seems the prudent approach. Most experts agree that you would have to eat more apples than almost anyone would care to in order to experience adverse health effects. (But washing your apples first is always a good idea.)

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