Go Fourth and Eat!
On the birthday of our country I would like to pen a verse
About the humble hot dog, for better or for worse.
About that tasty wiener, which no man did partake
For lunch in Philadelphia, when freedom was at stake.
No mustard for Tom Jefferson, John Hancock had no chili
Relish wasn’t fashionable for Tar Heel Hooper, Willie.
Joseph Hewes and our John Penn preferred a sausage biscuit,
When offered steak and kidney pie — the Carolinians nixed it.
In fact, the hot dog didn’t come about till 1867
When a Coney Island peddler sent his customers to heaven
With links that were so messy, a roll they did require
To keep the juice from dripping on each unprotected buyer.
Chicago, 1893, the World’s Fair drew attention
To the spreading popularity of that peddler’s fine invention.
It took the country by a storm, it swept from coast to coast
Until each Independence Day became a weenie roast.
But unlike us Americans, all weenies are not equal
And here the story twists and turns into a sordid sequel.
The rumors circulating as to what the dog contains
Begin with ears and eyeballs, with knuckles, snouts and brains.
With monosodium glutamate, corn syrup, salt and such,
By-products and red food dye, things we wouldn’t touch
Except when shaped like dachshunds without the tail and head
Tucked in a roll that is composed of white and mushy bread.
The brands parade down center field to trumpet and drum beat
Oscar Mayer leads the way with pork and turkey meat,
Sabrett is the longest, Ball Park tastes authentic
Nathan’s pedigree is unmistakably pedantic.
Hebrew National boasts that it is beef and nothing but,
All of it forequarters, not a smidgen from the gut.
A few include real cheddar cheese — should not this make them “mock?”
(Please stay away from tofu dogs unless you want a shock.)
Condiments, oh condiments — your legions daily swell
From classic yellow mustard to salsa hot as hell.
From sauerkraut and onions to Dijon, curried mayo,
Horseradish and a remoulade from Cajun-country bayou.
New buns are likely whole-grain, a fat-reduced variety
Providing multi-nutrients but not enough satiety.
You’ll wash them down with Perrier instead of Cherry Coke
While back in Coney Island vendors chuckle at the joke.
For hot dogs will be hot dogs, the Fourth will long endure
Eventually we’ll realize that some foods must stay pure.
The wiener is a good bit more than dog within a bun
Its holiday still represents a battle that was won:
Freedom from repression, equality for all
Willingness to answer the distant battle call,
The thrill when stars and stripes unfurl against the morning light
The caisson and the crosses for those who fought the fight.
The families safely gathered around a glowing grill
Fireworks exploding, oh how we love the thrill
Of knowing that we vote to choose our leaders and our laws
And once a year, to celebrate — to feast and then give pause
To thank the Founding Fathers, and mothers standing tall
Who sewed the flags and tended wounds of soldiers as they fall.
This day we will remember them with red and white and blue
Upon our shirts and flagpoles and on our tables, too.
So barbecue that chicken and bake your berry pie,
Tap a keg and pop a cork and raise those glasses high
To toast, among a hundred things, the food that spells the Fourth:
The hot dog which unites the tastes of folks from South and North.
So spread that French’s mustard, squeeze that ketchup Heinz
People of all colors, people of all kinds,
Democrats, Republicans and those that lean tea party
Today we’re all Americans: It’s Hot Dog Day — eat
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