Entry 233: This Post Isn’t Kosher

Just in time for the summer barbecue season, Oscar Mayer® has introduced a bacon hot bacon-dogs[1]dog.

At first I thought this sounded like a wonderful idea, because bacon makes everything better. But then I reconsidered. What if it was a pork hot dog? Then it’s kind of like a pig stuffed with more pig, which just doesn’t sound right.  After all, you don’t ever hear about bacon-wrapped ham, do you? (An aside: I won’t order an omelet with chicken in it because I feel it’s bad form to eat mother and child at the same time, no matter which of them came first.)

Fortunately, Oscar Mayer had the same thought, because they didn’t use a pork hot dog. They also didn’t use a beef hot dog. They used a hot dog with whatever they had laying around. Some of it is pork, but it also has “mechanically separated turkey and mechanically separated chicken,” and nine or 10 other, non-meat-based ingredients.

(Another aside: isn’t it odd they specified that the poultry is separated mechanically? Does it make a difference how it’s separated? Do they use machines instead of people because the humans were suffering from separation anxiety?)

(An aside to the aside: What exactly do the machines separate? The feathers from the skin? The heads from the bodies? The meat from the bones? The dark meat from the white meat? The nutrients from whatever they put in the hot dog?)

Where was I?

oscar-mayer-wienermobile-feb2013[1]Oh right, the new bacon hot dogs. Regardless of what’s in them and how it gets there, it has to be bad news for one of Oscar Mayer’s competitors, Hebrew National®, which is already at a competitive disadvantage because it doesn’t have a promotional vehicle that resembles a giant penis motoring down America’s highways. (Yet another aside: Perhaps Hebrew National could buy the Wienermobile, repaint it, and turn it into a KosherKar. After all, it does appear as if it has already been circumcised.)

Seriously, though, Hebrew National is in big trouble here. Obviously they can’t sell a baconhd-products_cheese-turkey-package[1] hot dog. They can’t even match up with Oscar Mayer’s Beef & Cheddar Franks, Jalapeño & Cheddar Franks, Cheese Turkey Franks or Cheese Dogs. And shouldn’t it be “Cheese & Turkey Franks” like the other ones, or have they actually managed to cultivate a cheese turkey? If so, does it need to be mechanically separated? Also, why are some of them franks and others dogs?  Is there a difference between a frank and a dog? Should all those questions have been an aside?hd-products_cheese_package[1]

Anyway, while Oscar Mayer is busy stuffing its hot dogs with anything it can think of, all Hebrew National can do is put out different sizes: regular, bun-length, jumbo and quarter pound, which is bigger than jumbo. They also sell “Beef Franks in a Blanket,” which are the same as pigs in a blanket but they couldn’t call it that, of course, because the hot dogs are beef, and because of, you know, the pig thing.  They could have been more creative and called them cows in a quilt, but they didn’t.

It’s hard to compete when you don’t have the flexibility to do line extensions.  I mean, what options does Hebrew National have? Schmaltz dogs? Gefilte franks? Bulls in a blintz?

At the same time, Hebrew National has other problems, as demonstrated by this paragraph on its home page:

In light of the recent lawsuit, we want to assure our fans that we stand behind our kosher status. Hebrew National products are kosher, and this lawsuit is without merit. Hebrew National’s kosher status is certified by a well-recognized and authorized third-party. There is close rabbinical supervision of the food preparation process and packaging equipment. For more than 100 years, Hebrew National has followed strict dietary law, using only specific cuts of beef that meet the highest standards for quality, cleanliness, and safety with no by-products, artificial flavors, or artificial colors.

The lawsuit in question (“Kvetchers v. Hebrew National”) has been dismissed, not because the hot dogs are unquestionably kosher, but because a U.S. District Court judge in Minnesota ruled that “I live in  Minnesota. What do I know from kosher?”

Just kidding, sort of. Essentially, the judge said it was a religious dispute that should be mediated by rabbis.  Hebrew-National[1]In other words, the judge basically agreed with Hebrew National’s old tagline, saying that they “answer to a higher authority.” I don’t know what the penalty would be if a rabbi ruled against Hebrew National. Possibly just a lot of guilt.

In any case, these days, Hebrew National has a different higher authority.  That would be ConAgra, its parent company, and home to such wholesome Kosher delicacies as Slim Jim, Tennessee Pride Sausage and Van Camps Pork and Beans. While I’m sure Hebrew National is kept entirely separate from other ConAgra brands (except in the annual report), the fact that its corporate “parents” include Orville Redenbacher and Marie Callender raises questions as to whether or not Hebrew National is even technically Jewish. (By Jewish law, only Marie’s bloodline would matter.)

In other bacon news, a San Francisco restaurant called Bacon Bacon, which specializes in, um, bacon, was shut down recently for smelling like…yes, that’s right.

One might suppose that the odor was okay with the restaurant’s patrons who, let’s face it, truckprobably weren’t there for the salads. So I guess the smell was leaking out onto the street, offending any passersby who didn’t appreciate the smoky scent of sizzling sow. While its legal issues are being resolved, Bacon Bacon’s food truck, which is, unfortunately, not shaped like a giant…anything…is still roaming the streets of San Francisco.

(A final aside: perhaps the people who disliked the aroma emerging from Bacon Bacon would be interested in an all-beef, non-bacon-infused hot dog from Hebrew National.)

See you soon.

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