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My Turn: Pass the catsup and hold the PC

By Bruce La Rue

Remember this TV commercial?

Hot dogs

Armour hot dogs

What kind of kids eat Armour hot dogs

Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks

Tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox

Love hot dogs

Armour hot dogs

The dogs kids love to bite

Some 50 years ago this was a very popular commercial jingle and probably boosted Armour’s sales. I have eaten them, and, despite the omission of a category that includes me (old kids), I thought they were good.

The classic ad would never make it onto the airwaves in today’s nauseatingly politically correct, diversity-for-the-sake-of-diversity society. The creative minds that came up with the ad would be drummed out of the business and shipped off to some gulag for the criminally insensitive.

Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue, a problem not to be taken lightly nor trivialized in a jingle. Children who are carrying a few extra pounds through no fault of their own (or their parents) do not need to be highlighted and reminded of their condition. It is at least a little hypocritical for a company to stigmatize overweight children when the very product they are promoting may well be a contributing factor.

On the other end of the scales, we must not draw attention to children who are underweight. Like their hefty counterparts, they have a tendency to be self-conscious about their physical appearance. Some may even be bulimic, meaning that despite their love of hot dogs they often will be unable to keep them down. From a purely nutritional standpoint, egestion of this product may be the preferable alternative.

Rock climbers are the poster children for the outrageously fit back-to-nature types. Frankly, unless Armour makes a soy- and/or tofu-based wiener, today’s kids who climb on rocks are more likely to pack protein bars and designer trail mix than something as nutritionally dubious as hot dogs made with (gasp) meat.

Clearly, to give tough kids any sort of mention is to glorify bullying, physical violence and perhaps even encourage a military superiority that is unfair to the rest of the world. Tough kids grow up to be thugs, brutes, Navy Seals, and single moms (there is nothing tougher than a single mom). Moreover, tough kids are notoriously insensitive and intolerant, the two unpardonable sins in our post-rational PC society. It may well be the red meat in the hot dog that triggers some latent gene, a vestige of our neanderthal heritage, rendering the tough kid incapable of controlling his primal urges.

Mammoth

Wooly mammoth

What kind of kids eat wooly mammoth

Sissy kids? Oh, my, one hardly knows where to begin. Are we supposed to applaud Armour for including those kids who were often the targets of emotional abuse, often at the hands of the tough kids? Or, should we chastise Armour for its ill-advised use of the “S” word and call for the obligatory boycott? Perhaps some visionary at Armour was forward-thinking enough to accurately predict that once the civil rights, women’s rights, anti-war, environmentalist and animal rights movements had run their courses, the LGBT community would be next to make its voice heard. If Armour could be perceived as an early sympathizer, the way might be cleared to lock up the hot dog concession at parades and rallies. Armour was either very clever or cruelly insensitive.

Just what do they mean by “even” kids with chicken pox? Was there an unfair bias in favor of healthy people back then? Were sick kids not expected to have “normal” tastes when it came to hot dogs? One wonders if Armour would have society quarantined those with illnesses and maladies, slipping the beloved hot dogs under the door so that “even” the infirm might enjoy that which the rest of us take for granted. What if “chicken pox” is simply a metaphor, representing diseases and conditions not openly discussed in 1967, including mental and emotional disorders? What about kids with pre-existing conditions?

Finally, suggesting that not only might a kid sink his fangs into man’s best friend, but would actually derive pleasure from such behavior, will almost certainly result in a visit from my friends at PETA, followed by lawsuits. I am certain that the writers of the jingle were just trying to be funny, but, at least in my experience, the folks at PETA have no sense of humor.

I, for one, am willing to give Armour the benefit of the doubt. I recently watched a video of the old commercial and was impressed by the diversity of the group of children, especially for that period. Still, to run a similar ad today would require a two-hour spot in order to accommodate every ethnicity, preference, creed, sub-ethnicity, sub-preference, sub-creed and self-identification. Picture the parade of nations entering the Olympic stadium and the bar scene from Star Wars set to a drastically revised multi-lingual jingle. Hey, these aren’t kosher; are we excluding someone? Oh, never mind. Chili and mustard on mine, please.

Bruce La Rue lives in Mt. Ulla.

My Turn submissions should be 500-700 words in length. Please email to letters@salisburypost.com with “My Turn” in the subject line. Include name, address, phone number and, if possible, a digital photo of the writer.

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