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The Simple Things in Life

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C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

'Teach us to delight in simple things.' ' Rudyard Kipling

With the passing of another Memorial Day in the U.S., the unofficial start of summer, I thought I'd begin with this classic piece of trivia:

Each year, how many hot dogs do Americans typically consume during 'Hot Dog Season' (Memorial Day to Labor Day)?

a. 7 million
b. 70 million
c. 700 million
d. 7 billion

[The answer coming up later in the show]

I certainly got my fair share of grilling in this weekend. Burgers, brats and hot dogs on Saturday with my in-laws and extended family. Burgers, brats, and hot dogs on Sunday with my parents. Hot dogs with just my wife and kids on Memorial Day. And lots of ketchup, mustard, and relish to go with these delights.

Generally speaking, I'm not one to get easily annoyed or excited. There are a few things in life though that simply irritate me; 1) people that don't know how to merge in traffic; 2) those adhesive stickers used to seal cd jewel cases; and 3) the unexpected watery bursts that emanate from upright squeezable ketchup bottles that make my hot dog buns soggy.

There's not much I can do about those that don't know how to merge in traffic. I accept this fact.

Sony, the most egregious violator of the annoying cd seals finally got its act together a few years ago and replaced the completely annoying seals with some that are slightly less so (other people must have been annoyed as well). Compact disk as a format is going by the wayside as digital downloads become the norm. And thus sticky jewel case seals will likely at some point go by the wayside completely. Thank god.

And after more than a hundred years, someone finally thought to turn ketchup bottles upside down. And in doing so significantly diminished the possibility of receiving an unwanted watery squirt.

I have no idea who came up with the idea for an upside down squeezable ketchup bottle. At some point though, someone at Heinz either came up with the idea or simply applied the idea to its own products. Brilliant. I hope he or she got a promotion.

Is this innovation going to significantly alter the course of human events? Not likely. Does this innovation reflect a major turning point in our culinary lives? Not really. Is it an innovation at all? Definitely yes. And if you don't immediately think so, go eat a couple soggy hot dog buns to see how they taste. Teach us to delight in simple things. I'm still waiting though for the consumer version of the ketchup bottle pump (like those dispensers at sporting events and quick serve restaurants). I have no doubt this would totally transform neighborhood and family outings.

For those of you still paying attention, the answer to the trivia question is 7 billion. With that many dogs headed down the hatch over the summer, you gotta figure there's a bunch of buns going down with them. And with the upside down squeezable ketchup bottle, far fewer soggy ones. Now if someone could just figure out how to dispense squeezable relish without getting a bunch of pickle juice all over the place. If anyone needs help figuring this out, give me a call. I've got a few ideas.

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