Food, Lifestyle, Opinion

Krause: Frankly speaking

Joey Chestnut, you’d better start getting annual colonoscopies.

I admonish America’s reigning hot dog-eating king to get as many screenings as hot dogs he crams into his mouth in 10 minutes because … well … because they can kill you.


The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C.-based medical group, is the latest group of scolds who breathlessly tell us to stop doing things we love to do. In this case, it’s eating hot dogs.

The group doesn’t want them served in schools, and for all I know, will picket ballparks across the U.S. next year telling us to consider an all-American diet of beer and broccoli.

That is assuming, of course, they don’t find a reason to get beer banned.

Tell me something I don’t know. What’s next? Water is wet (Thanks, Cheryl, for that one)?

We know the deal with hot dogs. But when we’re at Fenway Park on a gorgeous summer day, or at a July Fourth cookout, nothing satisfies the taste buds more than a well-cooked frank.

These doctors remind me of an “Odd Couple” episode in which Felix goes to work at his brother-in-law’s bubble-gum factory and tries to introduce gum that tastes like vegetables so that kids will learn to love them.

There’s the scene in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” where gum can taste like a roast beef dinner with blueberry pie (which causes Violet Beauregarde to blow up like a giant blueberry when she tries the unperfected product). Really. I’ll bet those Washington doctors went out and bought some. Worse, they probably loved it and raved about it while they got together and tried to convince us that something else we love causes cancer, the plague, and halitosis. Or maybe it’s all three.

Maybe it’ll be the aforementioned beer.

Look. Nobody likes a scold. People are going to do what they do, and warnings such as this medical group have little influence on the way they behave.

Want proof? More than 50 years after the U.S. surgeon general first issued his scathing, and convincing, data on smoking, people still smoke. Maybe not as much as they did in 1964, but they do. Millions of people defied the experts and took it up.

Nutritionists have been on us for years about our carnivorous ways. Cardiologists, oncologists, and scold-ologists all agree that too much red meat is bad for you. And it is true that American eating habits leave a lot to be desired.

I love hot dogs, but even I’m aware that you cannot have a steady diet of them. Too many dogs can fill my body with too many carcinogens. So say the doctors.

But this is also true of most processed food. None of it is really healthy. But eating it in moderation isn’t really unhealthy either.

Eating a hot dog isn’t like smoking. If you’re smoking near me, I breathe in your second-hand smoke which, even if it didn’t contribute to a basket full of diseases, is a very unpleasant assault on my olfactory senses.

But there are no second-hand hot dogs, unless you drop part of yours and I pick it up to eat it (provided there’s no relish anywhere near it). Eating a hot dog bothers no one, save for the busybody or two who just must scold me for eating one.

Hey, if you want to leave yourself ripe for coronary-artery disease, or colon cancer, then it’s your life and your choice. It doesn’t mean I have to go along.

Though in this case, I do. I decided this year to eat better.

But it should interest you as to why. I have diabetes, and I’ve already had a triple bypass. But what matters to me more is that my hairline is shrinking, and the only way I can comb it now so that it looks decent is the way people did in the fifties. That, however, made my face look as round as the moon. Now, nearly 30 pounds later, it isn’t quite as round.

See? The dire warnings of the medical scolds had nothing to do with it. It was pure vanity.

Either way, it was my choice, and I did it for my reasons.

I once asked a high school classmate who used to sneak off to smoke every chance he got how and why he started.

He said he started because of all those anti-smoking commercials. He got curious, tried one, and then another, and another one after that, and next thing he knew he was hooked.

The lesson to take from that is that the medical experts should really think about stopping all the hysteria about, well, just about everything. People aren’t going to heed the warnings. They’re going to tune them out like white noise.

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. That was the jingle back in the day. That was General Motors’ definition of Americana 50 years ago and it’s still true now.

A pox on all your houses, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Pass the mustard please, and keep the relish. And please, leave us alone afterward.

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