Fireworks, hot dogs, and, yes, gun sales

Three phallic things for (U.S.) Independence Day, the Fourth of July, today: fireworks, one of the classic audio-visual symbols of sexual climax; hot dogs (so common that there’s a whole Page on this blog on wurstlich phallicity); and guns, those icons of American independence and power. In order, from Jack Handey humor in the most recent New Yorker (July 4th, cover by Barry Blitt showing John Cleese doing a Brexit Silly Walk off the edge of a cliff); an assessment of hot dog brands by bon appétit magazine writers; and a Fourth of July gun sale from Cabela’s, featuring a  semiautomatic rifle similar to the one used in the Orlando Pulse massacre.

Unlike a panda, which famously eats, shoots, and leaves, a Real American eats, shoots, and gets off.

Fireworks. From Jack Handey’s New Yorker piece on “My Favorite Fireworks”, this racy entry:

Porno Rockets: First rocket bursts high in the air, spelling out a warning that no one under eighteen should look at the next rocket, which explodes into a closeup of throbbing genitalia.

The issue’s cover (“Silly Walk Off a Cliff”) is a side matter, but it’s so wonderful (and pointed) that I can’t resist:


(Notice once again how much background knowledge it takes to get this cover. You need to know about Brexit and how to recognize a cartoon Englishman. To get the full humor, you need to know about John Cleese’s “Ministry of Silly Walks” sketch for Monty Python’s Flying Circus. And for more Cleesian relevance, see George V. Reilly’s comment below.)

Hot Dogs. I try to honor my personal tradition of having a hot dog once a year, on the Fourth of July or close to it. (I don’t avoid hot dogs, but I also don’t seek them out. Except for Independence, where they’re a tradition. So today it was off at lunch to the Peninsula Creamery (Emerson and Hamilton, in downtown Palo Alto), where I had a Niman Ranch dog with Dijon mustard, relish, and chopped onions, coleslaw and pickle chips on the side.

(On Niman Ranch, which doesn’t figure in the story below, because it’s still heavily a Bsy Area thing, from Wikipedia: “Niman Ranch is a San Francisco Bay Area based ranch, meat processor and distributor of high quality “natural” beef, lamb, and pork, founded by rancher Bill Niman (William Ellis Niman) [in 1969])

Putting hot dogs to the test. A breezy piece “The Best Supermarket Hot Dog Brand You Can Buy” posted on 6/29 by Christina Chaey:

Whether you take ’em with ketchup and mustard, celery salt and pickles, or drenched in ranch dressing (it’s a thing!), you are pretty much bound by law to eat a hot dog on July 4th. To not do so is to be un-American! But unlike men, all hot dogs are definitely not created equal, as we discovered over the course of one hour last week as we blind-tasted our way through nine popular supermarket brands in search of the finest frank of all. Twenty-seven boiled hot dogs later, here’s what we found:

We sampled 9 hot dog brands you can find at most supermarkets. Save for the Oscar Mayer classics, we opted for all-beef dogs. Our selection:

  • Nathan’s Famous Skinless Beef Franks
  • Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners
  • Hebrew National Beef Franks
  • Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Beef Franks
  • Sabrett Skinless Beef Frankfurters
  • Ball Park Beef Franks
  • Boar’s Head Beef Frankfurters with Natural Casing
  • Applegate The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog
  • Just FreshDirect 100% Grass-Fed Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs

The Method: Much to the dismay of many of our taste testers, Test Kitchen … Manager Brad Leone was adamant that we abide by a strict no-buns policy, for fear it would compromise the test’s purity (Martin’s Potato Rolls, we love you). For the same reason, we chose to boil our hot dogs according to package directions rather than griddle them, as any resulting charred flavor could have tainted our taste buds—or so Brad said. (Side note: There’s nothing like watching 10 pots of hot dog water simultaneously bubbling away on the stove.) Ketchup, mustard, relish, and ‘kraut were also banned from the tasting room, which left us with nothing more than nine paper plates heaped with piles of anonymous hot dog, a box of toothpicks, a stack of too-small Dixie water cups, and the fear of God.

The candidates in a display photo, grilled and in buns (unlike in the test):


Thus began our journey to a place we’d like to never visit again. Shall we get on with our results?

Runner Up: Hebrew National Beef Franks: Hebrew National enjoys something of a cult status within the frankfurter world, and for good reason. These 100% Kosher beef dogs were a frontrunner for our #1 pick. “YES!!!” one taster wrote in praise of the juicy frank’s “clean hot dog flavor.” We were also into its great snap and general plumpness. “Would eat a whole one,” said one taste tester—and when you spend an hour stuffing your face with hot dogs, this is meant to be a compliment of the highest caliber. Although we boiled our hot dogs, we think Hebrew National would make a killer grilled version. Our few dissenters thought the flavor could use a boost, but overall, we give these a hearty seal of approval.

The Winner: Boar’s Head Beef Frankfurters with Natural Casing: Our winning hot dogs took top honors in both taste and texture across the board. Its natural-meat flavor came through without being aggressively salty or spicy, which is an issue we continually ran into with other brands. In essence, it’s exactly what we think a hot dog should taste like. We also loved its bouncy, snappy texture, which we think would make it an ideal candidate for both grilling and steaming purposes. As one taster wrote: “This is the peoples’ hot dog!!!”

Fourth of July firearms sales. (Thanks to David Preston and George V. Reilly for corrections on details.) Shops of all kinds have Independence Day sales; spending money on stuff is a holiday thing. Firearms suppliers are no exception, so we get the outdoors-supply store Cabela’s making this offer:


This is the Ruger® AR-556™ Semiautomatic Tactical Rifle (regular price $700, sale rice $630), made for military purposes but now, apparently, popular in hunting camps — and recently made famous as similar to the Sig Sauer MCX weapon used in the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse club. Presumably it’s being featured in the 4th of July sale as a flagrant assertion of the rights of the “firearms community” (their term, not mine) to beat whatever arms they want in whatever circumstances they want, a deliberate thumb in the eye to wussy arms-control freaks.

But wait, there’s more, in a story yesterday on the NBC Chicago site:

Suburban Gun Shop Cancels Raffle of AR-15 for Orlando Shooting Victims

The gun shop was selling $5 tickets to win an AR-15 rifle, similar to the weapon used in the gay nightclub massacre

Bad publicity — how could they not have anticipated this? —  surrounding the raffle seems to have impelled the cancellation (though there are reports that the shop proposes to make a revised offer after the winds of 49 dead in Florida blow over).

And that’s the news for the Fourth of July.

3 Responses to “Fireworks, hot dogs, and, yes, gun sales”

  1. javava2012 Says:

    Hot dogs are sold, in supermarket packs, fully cooked. No boiling is required. Heating (in near-boiling water) or a microwave achieves the desired, ready-to-eat state,
    Hot dog tastes are another thing all together — and fairly regional, at that. If I were the out and about type, and I had an occasion to do so, I would grab and enjoyably consume a Nathan’s Famous if I were fortunate enough to find myself at Coney Island (Brooklyn NY). For the most part, beyond that, I pass on hot dogs where I have no control on how they’re prepared. And I seldom bother to prepare them any way, given their high salt and ‘other non-essential’ stuff content.
    But I did a couple of Ball Parks — a favorite of my wife — this weekend!
    Doug Harris

  2. georgevreilly Says:

    John Cleese was a Brexit supporter. I assume the New Yorker knew that.

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