Good morning and greetings, baseball fans. In the two previous blogs we’ve gone back to my days of shooting with film at 11. Today we will return there for one final time, but instead of viewing the horizontal highlights, we’ll be exploring the vertical vortexes of my photographic mind.
We start off along West Cliff Drive at Swift Street with some double rainbow action before moving down to Lighthouse Point for a shot I took in the late 70′s of the white water smashing up against the cliff. These were the days before fences, surf museums and the internet. Next it’s another West Cliff classic as on this morning I somehow mistimed the sunset but caught the sun rising up with these glorious clouds in the sky.
Next it’s out to Palm Desert for another sunrise delight and then it’s back to Lighthouse Point. This is actually an early digital shot but I liked the reflection and the verticality for this montage. We then head to Stockton Avenue for the sunset cruise as the group of cormorants flew by on their way to Happy Hour at the Crow’s Nest. You know what they say, birds will be birds.
I’ve written about the war in Iraq and our escalating and deadly conflict in Afghanistan. Well, there’s another battle going on with much at steak. America’s two largest hot dog makers are waging a wiener war, hoping to win over customers and secure the No. 1 spot atop the stagnating frankfurter market. The latest round in the long-running feud comes as Kraft Foods Inc.’s Oscar Mayer brand gives its signature hot dog a perm and a makeover aimed at stealing momentum from Sara Lee Corporation’s Ball Park Franks. To quote Laker Coach Phil Jackson from this year’s NBA Finals, “Momentum is a strange girl.”
Kraft hopes its reformulation, a massive promotional campaign and free relish will attract new customers with a zestier, meatier recipe for its all-beef dog. “Consumers are continuing to look for higher flavors, beefier, juicier hot dogs and we saw that as an opportunity to grow that portion of our business,” said Sean Marks, the top dog in the marketing department for Oscar Mayer. Both suburban Chicago food manufacturers claim the designation as the nation’s top hot dog brand, based on separate readings of market research, sales data and mustard connoiseurs. Hot dog consumption, at least among adults and pro athletes, has hit its lowest level since the mid-1980s. What a bunner.
About 956 million packages of hot dogs were sold to U.S. retailers in the past year. That’s on top of the estimated 30 million hot dogs that Major League Baseball fans down each season at the nation’s ballparks along with droves of garlic fries. And with grocery sales of about $2 billion last year hot dogs are far from being discounted. And here’s a number for you stat fans. 48 percent of American children aged 18 and under will eat at least one hot dog in the next two weeks. A few might even open a book.
Kraft, the world’s second-largest food company, is also spending the summer promoting its line of snack-sized hot dogs by sending its new “Mini Weinermobile” on a nationwide marketing tour along side the full-scale model. Funny, my salivary glands did not react to that last sentence. Meanwhile, Sara Lee is touting its angus beef franks, turkey franks, whole-grain buns and fluffy pound cake that it announced back in May. As I’ve sung in the shower many a time, “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” But in reality, “Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer Wiener. That is what I truly like to be. ‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner. Everyone would be in love with me.”
Now that we’ve knocked off the main course, here’s some desert news. Americans last year spent $12.4 billion on ice cream, frozen yogurt, creamsicles, fudgicles, flying saucers, push-up pops and similar products in 2007. Though it may sound like a lot, the ice cream market is barely growing as sales rose just 1.8 percent between 2006 and 2007. What growth the industry is seeing comes from two contradictory trends. Increased demand for “decadent” products like ice cream with candy or other goodies mixed in and also for the healthier ice cream like the lower-fat slow churned kind. Yeah, you’ve got to love that slow churned double fudge brownie. Toss in a box of chocolate chocolate Haagen Daz bars and I’m climbing the stairway to sugar heaven.
That’s our Wednesday edition of Food for Thought. I hope you a caught a little bit of the all-star game last night from Yankee Stadium. My childhood home in New Jersey was just 20 minutes from “The House that Ruth Built” in the Bronx and going to the stadium was always a thrill. Bucky Dent, ‘Louisiana Lighting” Ron Guidry, Goose Goosage, Mickey Rivers, going to Yankee games was always a religious experience. Sort of like a bar mitzvah followed by a Hells Angels’ brunch. So enjoy the vertical colors, these summer days and we’ll catch you on Friday. Aloha, Derek Jeter fans.