Redesigned Hot Dog Breaks Apart When Eaten

Just three months after the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a call for a redesigned hot dog that would be safer for small children to eat, Eugene D. Gagliardi, Jr. — the food designer who invented Steak-umms and popcorn chicken — has come forward with a solution. His patented hot dog has eight slits that open during cooking, which cause it to break up into smaller pieces, potentially reducing the likelihood that a child could choke on it.

The patent, for a “food product having reduced likelihood of choking,” is all about breaking up the “elongated food product” into smaller pieces:

Briefly stated, the present invention comprises an elongated food product having a central axis extending along its length and two portions, a segmented portion comprised of at least two segments that are separable from each other, and an unsegmented portion which is substantially contiguous to the segmented portion. A consumer’s biting into the food product generally perpendicular to the central axis results in the separation of the segments, creating in the mouth of the consumer small food pieces relative to the size of the bitten-off section to reduce the likelihood of choking on the food product.

In one preferred construction the invention comprises an elongated food product having a generally cylindrical outer surface, a length and a longitudinal centerline traversing the length of the food product. The food product further comprises an array of at least two generally radial lengthwise cuts, each cut residing in a plane containing the centerline, with each cut extending from the outer surface of the food product inwardly to a predetermined, substantially uniform distance from the centerline, thereby providing an unsegmented generally cylindrical inner portion and a segmented outer portion having at least two separable segments, each segment having as a cross-sectional shape a sector of a circle truncated at its apex, each segment further being contiguous with and connected to the unsegmented inner portion.

Gagliardi received his patent in 1991. According to reports, he’ll soon begin marketing his elongated food product on the East Coast. No word on why it’s taken nearly 20 years for it to go from concept to product.

United States Patent: 5069914 [U.S. Patent Office via The Package Unseen]
Pediatricians Urge Warning Labels on Foods That Can Choke [NYTimes.com]

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