Hot dogsHot dogs are an American pastime. They are front and center at summer barbecues. And who hasn’t ordered one at a baseball game? Stuffed in a bun, slathered in ketchup, mustard, or whatever topping your prefer, they scream American summertime.  But a group of pediatricians wants to fundamentally change the hot dog because they say its shape poses a choking risk to children. Sadly, hot dogs are the cause of 17 percent of asphyxiations in kids under 10.

Now I’m all for protecting children from choking, but try for a minute to picture a less-round hot dog. All I end up picturing is some strange hamburger-like patty.

The group also wants the government to mandate that food manufacturers label products such as hot dogs with a warning label that they pose a choking hazard.

I think with common sense most people know hot dogs are a choking hazard. It’s certainly not new information. Maybe the solution here isn’t changing the hot dog itself, but instead educating parents and kids about the choking risks a hot dog poses. Maybe parents need to cut their kids’ hot dogs (and all food really) into smaller pieces or just feed them hot dogs less often. Maybe parents should be trained in the Heimlich Maneuver.

Before we all start banging the evil-hot-dog drum, I think we need to step back and look at some educational things we can do to prevent choking.