Friday, January 9, 2009

Pig Iron, Part Deux


During that last posting, the "wheatdog" was doing all of the talking.

Getting back to the iron in hotdogs, I have to say that the whole process of figuring out an appropriate amount of iron intake for a hemochromatosis patient is obfuscated by the fact that the USDA makes it almost impossible to understand their system. For example: the makers of Ballpark Hotdogs testify that one of their beef franks will provide a person with 4% of his (slightly less for her) daily requirement for iron. The United States Department of Agriculture says that a normal person needs about 10 milligrams (.010 grams) of iron to make it through a normal day. If you are an abnormal person or are having an abnormal day, you are on your own, mathematically speaking. Assuming normality, Ballpark is suggesting that if you wish to have all of your iron come from their wienies, you would have to eat 25 of them. Wow! As much as I love "wheatdogs", I can't hammer down a whole loaf bread in a day. Maybe there is more going on here than meets the eye.

Inasmuch as we hemochromatosis patients absorb three times as much iron from the food that we consume, should we conclude that one hotdog eaten by myself would provide 12% of my daily requirement for iron? That seems reasonable. Yet I have to ask myself, again, how much total iron is there in a hotdog? Resorting again to the math of the matter, if 4% represents a tenth of the total amount of iron in a hotdog (remember, 4% is the promised nutritional value, and normal people only digest 10% of the total available), then the total amount of iron that could be wrung from a Ballpark frank is 40% of the USDA's recommendation. The USDA says that 10 milligrams (.010 grams) is all that you need each day. If my mad math skills have not failed me, each Ballpark beef frank has a total of .004 grams of iron held within its plump little self. Now, hold on to your bootstraps! A Ballpark beef frank weighs 56 grams. What in the world constitutes the other 55.996 grams of material in that wienie? Don't think about this conundrum too long; "Calorie Count" gives Ballpark beef franks a nutritional grade of "F" and those guys have no clue about hemochromatosis. They also apparently have no clue about what constitutes a great tasting hotdog. The fact of the matter is, no matter what else is in a Ballpark beef frank, 53.5678 grams of it is pure "yummy". What I find interesting is that Trillium has intuitively selected the best possible venue for my personal addiction to "wheatdogs", and this long before "Doc Holliday" and I had our first set-to.

Here are Consumer Reports top six hotdogs, as of July 2007:

1. Hebrew National Kosher Beef Franks (weighs 49 grams and has 50% more iron than Ballpark; I have eaten loads of these behind Trillium's back))
2. Nathan's Famous Skinless Beef Franks (with roll, weighs 100 grams and has half of the iron of a Ballpark wienie; when is the next train to Coney Island?)
3. Boar's Head Skinless Beef Franks (weighs 45 grams and has the same iron as Ballpark; never heard of them, but can you get beef from a boar?)
4. Hebrew National Kosher Reduced-Fat Beef Franks (weighs 49 grams and has the same iron as Ballpark; non-fat sounds like you're concerned about your health. You can eat three of these in place of one Ballpark.)
5. Boar's Head Lite Skinless Beef Franks (weighs 45 grams and has the same iron as Ballpark; still suspecting the boar's head!)
6. Ball Park Beef Franks (weighs 56 grams and is the industry standard; 4% of USDA suggested iron intake)

Earlier in our married life, Trillium and I lived in Garden Grove, California. For poverty purposes we used to shop at a grocery store in Santa Ana called McCoy's. Everything was cheap! One day while shopping I cruised by the meat department and found hotdogs on sale for $.10 a pound. I had never seen them that cheap before, even at McCoy's. I began emptying the freezer case into my cart. Trillium came by with another cart and said, "Whatcha doin'?" She always uses that accent when I am doing something suspect.

"I'm a-pickin' up food!" I always use my Mortimer Snerd accent when I sense that I have been caught doing something stupid.

"Whatcha got?"

"Hottendoggies, yup, yup yup!"

"Whats inem?"

I looked at the "nutritional facts" label. "Beef lips and pork snouts," I stammered, somewhat aghast.

She gave me that look she always gives me on such occasions and said sweetly, "Too much cheap iron. Put them back. You'll thank me later".

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


Bliss said...

Silly man. Hmmmmm. Is that redundant? McCoy's is the same store that one day had moldy pizza's on sale, as I recall.

Larsens said...

You haven't had a hot dog until you have gone to Finland and eaten one, or twenty. I never buy hot dogs in this country, but almost the first thing we do when we go to Finland is eat a ton of hot dogs...without buns. It is just not done there. Hope you can experience it one day.