My parents, bless ’em, made sure that my sister Eileen and I didn’t end up becoming fussy eaters by exposing us to as many types of cuisine as possible. This is an asset in Accordion City, North America’s most multicultural metropolis, and is required when enjoying cultural mash-ups such as the “Chicken Satay Burrito” from the sandwich shop down the street from my house.

When I was younger, my parents had to deal with cases where the children of their friends coming over for dinner were fussy eaters. The adults were there for the Filipino food — if you’ve never tried it, a very oversimplified way to think of it is “Chinese food cross-bred with Spanish” — but sometimes the kids wouldn’t eat anything “strange”. The universal “safe food” for these culinary cowards was the hot dog, which my parents prepared as the Emergency Fussy Eater Food. The hot dog is safe, familiar…and bland.

(But sometimes, it’s not bland enough. I remember seeing an American ad for a brand of hot dogs whose name I forget. The “mom” in the voice-over said the particular brand of hot dogs being hawked weren’t “spiced as much as the other ones”.)

The hot dog’s come so far from its much tastier, spicier German origins that it now requires dressing up. Hence the North American tradition of hot dog condiments. The condiments aren’t really a bad thing — I’m rather fond of the sweet-and-sour taste of corn relish and sauerkraut on my bratwurst from the nearby 24-hour hot dog cart. I draw the line at coloured ketchup, though.

Condiments are not the final frontier. Just as late-night TV once marketed things that turned tomatoes into roses and potatoes into starch Slinkies (or it the plural spelling “Slinkys”?), we now have the Octodog. It turns the humble hot dog into a octopus shape.

Who knows, maybe it’s a way to slowly ease kids into eating calamari.

(Thanks to Asparagirl for the link.)

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