Redesigning the hot dog, and its package

On a spring day about 15 years ago my son and I were sitting at a picnic table at the Hindley Happening, a local school fair, and he was choking on a hot dog. One minute he was admiring the stuffed animal won at the ring toss game, and the next he was turning blue.

He recovered, I didn’t.

So I read with interest this morning that the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a new policy statement, is urging that food safety for children meet the same standards as toys. They are recommending more stringent warning labels on foods that are known choking hazards, like hot dogs.

As a NY Times article today points out,

“You have a SuperBall that by government regulation has to carry warnings telling people it’s a risk to young children and you can’t market it to them, yet you can have the same identical shape and size gumball and there are no restrictions or requirements,” said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, the lead author of the pediatricians’ policy statement on food hazards.”

There is even a move to redesign the hazardous foods themselves. Food designer Eugene D. Gagliardi Jr., who invented Steak-umms and popcorn chicken, was given a patent number 5,069,914, for a hot dog that reduces the chance of choking. It looks the same in the package, but has eight deep slits that open when cooked, causing it to break apart into small pieces when eaten.

Apparently the FDA is reviewing their current policy, based on the new pediatric guidelines, and was considering steps to help prevent further deaths.

Here are a couple other links to information,
A Time magazine column
Here is the policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics
A Pediatric Journal study on the 10 food products with the highest choking risk. These include, hot dogs, peanuts, carrots, boned chicken, candy, meat, popcorn, fish with bones, sunflower seeds and apples.

I know some might be deeply skeptical. I just hope you don’t share my experience of that sunny Saturday morning.

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About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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3 Responses to Redesigning the hot dog, and its package

  1. Victoria C says:

    I’m all for making a safer hotdog available! It’s scary to be a parent!

  2. Pingback: Redesigned Hot Dog Breaks Apart When Eaten | About Food and Restaurant

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