The Prolific Plastics Promoter

One of the men responsible for the global acceptance of plastic wares for the home was a dreamer and tinkerer.  Earl Tupper enjoyed sketching and doodling.  In the process, he often came up with gadgets and whatchamacallits. His diary, was really an illustrated notebook that contained his inventions and imaginings.

Early on, he came up with a knife-shaped comb that attaches to belts, a convertable top for rumble seats on cars, trousers that keep their crease, and hundreds of other ideas.  Earl Tupper also came up with the line of products, known the World over, “Tupperware”.

Tupper-EarlTupperEarl Silas Tupper was born on a farm near Berlin, New Hampshire on July 28, 1907 to Earnest and Lulu Tupper.  His father managed the family farm and his mother oversaw a boarding home.  Earnest was an unambitious tinkerer who thought up labor-saving devices for his farm.  Meanwhile, the ten-year-old Earl turned out to be equally as creative, but, more importantly, very ambitious and enterprising. The youngster supplemented the family’s income by starting his own business that sold the family’s produce door-to-door.

After barely graduating from high school, in 1925, Earl stayed on with his parents and worked at their greenhouse and outside odd jobs.  He also enjoyed mail-correspondence courses.  One such course was advertising. He was soon convinced that advertising would change the future.  In an effort to help sell more flowers, he unsuccessfully pitched the idea to offer a free “kiddie playland” on the greenhouse property.

When Tupper left home, he worked hard to sell his many inventions and gadgets, with little success.  In order to support himself, Tupper operated a tree surgery and landscaping business.  In 1931, he married Marie Whitecomb. As luck would have it, the Great Depression caused Tupper Tree Doctors to fail in 1936.  However, Tupper was one of the fortunate few to find work in a factory in Leonminster, Massachusetts, in 1937.

The firm was Viscoloid manufacturing, the plastics manufacturing division of du Pont de Nemours Corporation. Tupper soaked up experience and knowledge of the plastics industry during his one-year stint with the DuPont plant.

The 31-year-old Tupper resigned from the Leominster factory in 1938 and set up his own business, The Earl S. Tupper Company.  He bought some used machines from his former employer and began developing his own plastic products for the consumer market. The very first Tupper Plastics plant opened in 1942, at Farnumsville, Massachusetts.  His goal was the “Tupperization” of every American kitchen.

Even though raw materials were hard to acquire during the war, Tupper Plastics was able to stay in business by manufacturing plastic parts for naval signal lamps and gas masks, among other military items.  After the war, Tupper received a large block of polyethylene from the DuPont company.  DuPont believed manufacturers could use plastics for consumer goods.

Tupper was unhappy with the plastic, because it contained fillers that made it difficult to mold.   Tupper requested pure polyethylene pellets from DuPont. The skeptical company complied and shipped some to Tupper. He tinkered and tweaked until the right formula and processes were invented.  The result was his first line of Tupperware bowls.

Tupper set about to market his bowls and containers.  The smallest ones were offered as free cigarette premiums. The main product was the Tupperware Tupper-tupperpatent“Wonderbowl”, featuring its patented “burping” seal”. The innovation was inspired by the grooved design of metal paint can lids.

The bowls were first distributed to department stores. His first independent marketing effort was a showroom on Fifth Avenue in New York City.  The public was disinterested, though, because they associated plastic housewares with their previous experiences of poor quality plastic items from other manufacturers. Again, Tupper suffered through hard financial times.

Meanwhile, a single mother, with no formal business training, Brownie Wise, was honing her own skills.  The divorcee worked as a secretary for Bendix Aviation and as a saleswoman for a clothing store.  To earn extra money, Wise began to sell Stanley Home Products’  cleaning aides and brushes.  The sales were conducted at home party demonstration, get togethers.   Wise eventually became a top seller for the products.

Then, Wise noticed the Tupperware products languishing on the shelves at department stores. She and some other Stanley branch managers began to sell quantities of the Tupperware as a side business.  Soon, Earl Tupper noticed the spike in Tupperware sales figures. In 1951, Tupper invited Wise to join his company and head up the sales department.   Wise developed and managed the “Tupperware Home Parties” division in Florida.


The pair was an odd but smart one. Wise was the extroverted, flamboyant executive. Tupper was more of the perfectionist, geeky, introvert inventor.  The company and its products became very successful.

Corporate changes soon came at lightning speed.  There are a few stories about those changes, among them were tax worries and supposed jealousy about the success of Brownie Wise in the company. In 1958, Tupper unceremoniously fired Wise. No reasons were given.  Months later, Tupper sold Tupperware to Justin Dart and Rexall Drug Company.  Next he divorced his wife and bought an island in Central America.

Tupper relinquished his US citizenship and became a citizen of Costa Rica, where he lived out his retirement.  He continued to tinker and invent things, but none of his other inventions ever caught on.  They included a round stove, a combination clothes washer/exercise cylinder for traveling salespeople, and improvements on hospital equipment.

Earl S. Tupper died in Costa Rica on October 5, 1983 from a heart attack. His legacy includes the Earl S. Tupper Research and Conference Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. This includes numerous laboratories for chemistry, acoustic communication, entomology, histology, and plant physiology.

mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness notes that one of Earl Tupper’s youthful inventions was a small, fish-powered, boat.

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Reaction To Circumstances

While clearing some storm debris near the riverbank in my backyard last week, I encountered a bull snake.  Instinctively, I froze in place for a few moments.  Then I studied the snake because of its superficial resemblance to a rattlesnake.  Then I noticed this snake’s lack of rattles.  My physical sense of fight or flight faded away.

I think this was a normal reaction to an unexpected phenomenon.  My regular aversion to snakes was aroused by the presence of the large creature.  The incident caused me to ponder how we react to different circumstances.reaction-01

On a very basic level, we can react to neutral events in very different ways.  If a driver is heading towards the west near the time of sunset, she might feel annoyed because the Sun is causing interference with her vision and is distracting her from the task of driving the car.  Meantime, someone strolling along a hiking trail may encounter the same sunset and be overcome with awe because he interprets the sight as beautiful and inspirational. These subjective reactions are obvious.

The feelings of delight and exhaltation felt by the players and fans after the victory in a sporting event are counterbalanced by the unhappiness and disappointment experienced by the players and fans of the losing team.  The same dichotomy can be found elsewhere, such as in business or politics.

The victors of a political question may feel delight in the outcome of an election or court decision and not notice the disappointment of people hoping for a different result.  Meantime, the losers might harbor negative opinions and wish to harm or take revenge upon the victors of the political event.  In most instances, the reactions of the winners and the losers are self-centered and can have negative consequences.

The self-centered glee we might feel when we win, can rebound back at us in due course.  The same rebound effect will also happen if we’re on the losing side and wish harm upon our opponents. Either way, we’re striving for personal satisfaction that causes others to suffer.  This is Schadenfruede in its most basic form.  That is, pleasure gained from the misfortune of others.  Certainly, this is not a constructive or compassionate form of pleasure.  This is only superficially satisfying.reaction-04

There are also emotional reactions resulting from our attachments to wealth or personal advantages.  Newscasts are filled with reports of very wealthy individuals who are so attached to their bank accounts and investments, that they constantly grasp at more and more.  They hunger to own everything and everyone possible.  The possession of money and property is translated into the slaking of their thirst for power and control.  The wealthy person may be ignorant of the basic needs of other people or she might enjoy a perverse pleasure when others suffer misfortune due to her actions.

Furthermore the reaction of attachment to pleasurable things, like vast sums of money, luxurious possessions, and even personal attractiveness will eventually rebound upon itself.  What begins as a pleasant reaction to the circumstance of plenty, reverses automatically into the pain of worrying about diminishment of gain and loss of status.

Some of us humans may have enjoyed a degree of fame or celebrity or found pleasure in social popularity and acclaim.  There are countless reports of such individuals becoming victims of drug abuse, or sexual exploitation.  Sometimes they become perpetrators of harmful activities.  They find out the hard way that physical pleasure, fame, and wealth are temporary circumstances.reaction-03

On the other hand, we might think that the opposite circumstances are actually superior in the struggle to find lasting satisfaction.  It may superficially appear that an impoverished person is someone who is building character and strength from the struggle to survive.  Usually, all that poverty creates is the desire to become wealthy.  If a person has few or no beautiful possessions, he will naturally have daydreams of a large home, fine cars, and stylish clothing.  If he is socially obscure or unpopular, the person will react with desires for fame and popularity.

Clearly, the circumstances of our lives are not the be all and end all of how we interpret living.  It is our reactions to these circumstances that make or break us.  Neither having all the wealth in the World nor suffering through dire poverty are the solutions to satisfaction.

Circumstances of wealth and poverty are supreme distractions along the path of life.  They might be the backdrop to our lives, but they need not define us.

Detachment and observation of our reactions to circumstances will help us guide ourselves to more satisfactory living.   Honest examination of our desire for wealth will help us find equilibrium between too much wealth and too little wealth we need in order to thrive.  The same attitude works insofar as our need to be recognized for our existance and efforts.  We can find the balance between reactions of arrogant boastfulness and meek submissiviness.

reaction-02Usually, we will discover that satisfaction does not come from trying to convert other people to conform to our ideals. If we’re really honest, we discover that satisfaction comes from changing our reactions to circumstances we find ourselves in.

We understand that getting other people to cherish us is a self-defeating proposition.  If we try to impress other people, we notice that others will only resent us.  The best we can hope for, is that they’ll kiss up to us.

On the other hand, we might look at the circumstances encountered by other people.  We might think that putting others down will make them feel better about themselves or somehow cause them to change their lives.  We don’t really understand their circumstances but we react towards other people’s circumstances in ways that we believe are best for them.  We want to impose our own beliefs onto everyone else.

At our worst, we judge their lives in order to feel superior to them. This is a sure-fire way to cause distress and conflict.

A more constructive and helpful reaction to superficially pleasant or unpleasant circumstances is to view situations as learning opportunities.  We can assess our own reactions and sympathize or see the reactions of others from a fresh viewpoint.

We may discover the truth, that we may not be able to change the circumstances, but we can change our reactions. Doing so will bring us more satisfactory moments.

1984aThe Blue Jay of Happiness knows that everybody wants to change the World, but few of us want to change our own attitudes.

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Día de Rebeldía Nacional

Most of the holidays I research pose little or no official interest from our spy agencies.  This one is a bit different.  Today’s commemoration is a big day in Cuba.  I had to tip-toe through a potential minefield to find the few sources that provide objective information about this holiday. After getting past a virus threat (US intel?) I pieced together today’s post.

The history of Cuba is a long and colorful one that I may outline for you in the future.  Today, however, I’ll only sketch the beginnings of the current regime.

The seeds for revolution in Cuba were planted before 1940, when Fulgencio Batista first flexed his executive muscles in the island nation.  Batista then served as President from 1940 until 1944.  Batista made another bid for President in 1952, but it looked like his candidacy would fail.  Batista rallied his supporters and took power in a coup d’état, overthrowing President Carlos Prio and halting the pending  elections.

Meantime, waiting in the wings for the Congressional elections, was a young, Cuba-FidelCastrocharismatic attorney named Fidel Castro Ruz, who was favored to win the seat.  Following the Batista coup d’état, the young Castro went into hiding because his reputation of opposition to other Cuban leaders would not be well received by the new regime.  In fact, Batista soon began to arrest other “enemies of the state”.

The Batista regime soon gained favorable recognition from Cuba’s banking and business sector.  International recognition came from other countries, especially the United States. The Batista government maintained its tentative hold on power due to the support of foreign Western nations.  The dictator’s security forces needed to keep a close watch on the many groups that were plotting armed revolution over the junta. The Castro faction was only one among these groups.

The Batista coup only politicized Castro further.  Following the cool-down period after the overthrow, Castro placed a legal challenge into the mix. He charged that the Cuban Constitution was ignored and violated in the change of government.  The courts refused to take up his petition.  Castro then realized other means would be necessary to bring about change.  He began to plot his own armed revolt in secret.

Among the first recruits to the plot was Castro’s young brother, Raul.  The loyal tagalong eagerly followed Fidel and provided real and moral support.  The two brothers knew that men and weapons were necessary for a successful revolution.  An attack on the Moncada barracks and armory, held the best promise for providing the means.

The plan targeted an attack date of July 26, 1953.  The day was chosen because the day before would be the Carnaval de Cuba and the festival of St. James. It was deemed likely that a great number of soldiers would be missing or incapacitated from drunkeness or hung over.  The base was located near the city of Santiago, one of the poorest areas of Cuba and the place where most of the civil unrest had been happening.  Castro was betting that a takeover of the Moncada barracks would trigger a mass uprising that he would lead.

A nearby farm was rented to store contraband uniforms and weapons for the assault. The 160 guerillas were housed in rooms rented in Santiago in readiness for the attacks.

In the early morning hours of July 26th, the rebels were picked up and driven to the rented farm. They were issued the bogus uniforms and light rifles.  Fidel Castro briefed his men and began the action.  27 insurgents were assigned to attack the small outpost near Bayamo and the remaining 138 set their sights on Moncada barracks.

The first vehicle made it through the main gates and the guards were disarmed.  However, a routine, two-man patrol detected a problem, so the shooting began before the rebels had taken up their planned positions.

A general alarm was sounded on the base alerting the soldiers to defend the position.  Heavy machine gun fire pinned down the rebels from the first vehicle.  Half of the guerillas from the first vehicle had been killed when the rest were forced to retreat.  Castro sensed that his plan was doomed, so he ordered a full retreat.  Most of the rebels fled to Santiago and blended into the populace, including Fidel and Raul Castro.  The same fate awaited the commando force at Bayamo.

Because 19 federales had been killed, the rest of the soldiers were in a vengeful mood.  All the male rebel prisoners were brutally tortured and then murdered in cold blood.  The nature of the brutality was leaked to the public at large and a scandal ensued for the Batista regime.  It was because of this scandal that when the Castro brothers and the rest of the rebels were captured, they were jailed and not executed.

The Batista government conducted show trials of the rebels and encouraged civilians and journalists to attend.  This move backfired because Fidel Castro used his trial as a venue to attack the government.  Castro testified that he organized the attack in an attempt to remove the tyrannical Batista from power. Castro took responsibility for all of his actions and presented his case as a civic duty to restore legitimate democracy to Cuba. It was during the public portion of his trial that he spoke his famous sentence, “La historia me absolverá!” (History will absolve me!).

The Batista officials attempted to silence Castro by locking him down. The government claimed that Castro had become ill and was unable to appear on trial.  However, Castro had news of his good health smuggled out to the general public. The rest of the trial was conducted in secret and Fidel Castro was sentenced to 15-years imprisonment.Cuba-CheYFidel

In 1955, Batista bowed to international pressure to release his political prisoners.  Following his release, Castro and his most loyal compadres travelled to Mexico to organize the Cuban Revolution.  Castro gave his rebellion the name, Movimiento 26 de Julio (The 26th of July Movement) abbreviated as M-26-7.  The rebels were dubbed the “Moncadistas”.

In Mexico, Castro was introduced to Ernesto “Che” Guevara in 1956. The Moncadistas, now with Che Guevera, returned to Cuba to support the guerilla cells that were fighting across the Island.  Following two years of guerilla activity, Fulgencio Batista finally fled Havana. On January 8, 1959 Fidel Castro and his Moncadistas marched into the capital, victorious.Cuba-g

Today, Día de Rebeldía Nacional, is a major holiday in the island nation. Cubans indulge in patriotic parades, speeches, festive concerts and street celebrations.  Celebrants enjoy dressing up in costumes and listening and dancing to troupes of conga players.  There is plenty of feasting and imbibing by the citizenry. The anniversary of the Movimiento 26 de Julio is in full swing.

Cuba-iconThe Blue Jay of Happiness notes that it is still a civil violation for US citizens to visit Cuba, however more than 60,000 still manage to get there illegally each year.  There are a few, select Americans allowed to travel to Cuba legally.  This writer is in no position to advise you about such arrangements.

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Clean Up Day …Floral Friday

The Spring cleaning has merged into Summer cleaning regarding the collectables that have accumulated around the house.   There were a few that have remained semi-permanent displays.  The kind of decoration that you overlook, but you’d notice if it went missing.  I decided it was time to clean them up and make them noticeable once again.

The first one to recapture my attention is a black 19-inches tall Royal Haeger 408 Ewer Vase. Even though this large piece is being used as part of a room divider, the dried, tall jungle grass looked cliche’ and rundown.  Here was an excuse to use a couple of very large faux tropical flowers that had been in storage for a couple of years.  I used window cleaner on the vase then carefully placed the floral elements inside. There was no more of the humdrum handful of stems and sticks in vases, non-idea, that we see in countless home interior magazine photos.


The pair of fighting roosters wallpockets are actually in front of me several times each day.  They hang over the kitchen sink.  I see them, but rarely really study their forms.  I did happen to notice, this week, that they had some water spots. The flowers and feathers had become haggard and out of place. Everything was soaked in soapy water, except the feathers and pussy willows, which were replaced. The entire look was recreated to as close as my original from a few years ago.


Finally, a very old wallpocket over the refrigerator needed some pizzaz.  Again, this one had been in place for a few years and I wanted to keep it there.  The roses and fill flowers looked tired and worn out, so I tossed them.  The vase got a careful wash and dry treatment.  Small flowers seemed to be the right elements to carry through the rustic theme of the appliqués on the front of the wallpocket.

These were satisfying projects in that I have the vases where I want them and they have a cleaner and fresh appearance once again.

mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness likes this saying from David Sedaris: “The combination of ammonia and chloride can be lethal but I’ve discovered it can work miracles as long as you keep telling yourself, “I want to love, I want to live””

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I witnessed dad’s demeanor metamorphose dramatically during my visit to the nursing home the other day.  He has been quite passive and overly cautious ever since his fall in November.

Dad decided to sell his old power garden tiller, in an effort to downsize his belongings.  A man, about my age, wanted to purchase the implement.  I soon found out that dad used to be his work supervisor. Dad became much more energetic and assertion-01demanding.  He was more like his old self. His old heavy-handedness had returned.

When the former employee entered dad’s room, the role-playing relationship, between the two, resumed.  Dad took the initiative of introducing the man to me.  There was some amount of small-talk, then dad presented the minor business transaction.  I was pleased to watch the price negotiation happen without any dithering on dad’s part.

Dad wanted to make sure the tiller’s operating manual went along with the employee so, dad insisted that we all go to dad’s house to pick it up.  It was almost amusing to see dad exert himself and attempt to get out of his chair alone. He was a man on a mission.  Dad was the boss, again.  He was in charge for the next half-an-hour.

Almost as soon as the employee had loaded the machine into his pickup truck and drove away, dad once again resorted to his prior passivity.  Seating him in my car was once again laborious and slow.  By the time the ol’ Camry was underway, dad was back in nursing home mode.

I’ve been pondering dad’s temporary burst of confidence and self-assertiveness all of this week.  I wonder what it has been like for him to live so passively after harboring a life-long overbearing attitude.  I also wondered why there seems to be no happy medium between the passive and active for him.  It was interesting to watch dad’s determination, and self-discipline return, albeit for less than an hour.  I also wonder if he was fully aware of his change in behavior.

Sometimes, we feel like we have little actual control over our lives.  Perhaps some of us have lost the power or skill to counter the opposing forces in our lives.  We feel that we’re at the mercy of powers greater than us.  Some of us feel like we’re being dragged through situations that fate has brought our way.


There are times we find ourselves at the beck and call of other people. We’re working for the benefit of other people’s agendas and goals, not our own.  We fall prey to the designs of political, religious, and commercial designs upon us and our energies.  We feel the tug to gain more control over our lives and not allow other people to significantly have their way over us.  We want to be active agents in our own lives. We want to be the directors of our own life dramas.

Have you noticed that many of us seem passive or somewhat indifferent to the World around us until a project or plan comes to mind?  Indecisivness and passivity disappear, in favor of a sense of mission and action.  We find a reserve of strength to help us withstand the rigours of what is needed to bring the task to completion.  This is when we need to take control and then we do so. assertion-02

We might notice the need to assert ourselves and be forthright.  One’s self-confidence increases and we more skillfully express our own wants and needs so we have a better chance of getting our own way.  This is when we find faith in ourselves and understand who we are and what we stand for. The assertion goes beyond that found within beliefs and belief systems.  It’s much more primal and powerful.

Some of us mistake assertion for aggressiveness and vice versa.  Assertion comes forward once we have come to terms with our own aggressive urges.  Just like sexuality or any other primary survival mechanism, aggression cannot be suppressed.  The destructive form of aggression can be creatively channeled so that it doesn’t devolve into mental and physical illness.  We can see assertiveness when a person has taken control of any impulses towards anger and aggression.  We need to let others know who is boss, who controls the situation, and who is also in control of oneself.  Dad’s behavior, the other day, is a good example of this.

An assertive demeanor cannot be forced.  Attempts at doing so will be seen as phony and desperate.  Assertive behavior is carefully cultivated along with other positive virtues like compassion, mercy, and acceptance.  Unlike brute-force aggression, assertiveness brings out our appreciation of the struggle.

Assertiveness is a celebration of the positive, active forces in our lives.  Assertiveness is a learned skill.

mini-meThe Blue Jay of Happiness remembers the advice about riding loose in the saddle. The cowboy is simultaneously in control but relaxed.

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Happy Hot Dog Day

I realize that National Junk Food Day was celebrated the day before yesterday, so I briefly wondered whether or not to write a backgrounder on National Hot Dog Day. Since it’s Summer in the Northern Hemisphere, I decided another light topic was OK.  Since, people eat a lot of these things during the hot months, why not highlight hot dog day?hotdog-promo

I also love to delve into controversies, so why not spice today’s commemoration with just a touch of contentious content, both in the food and the blog post.  The stories about the origin of this humble foodstuff have been questioned, but they’re colorful enough to pass along again.

We find that some packages of hot dogs are labeled “franks” or “frankfurters”.  This name is derived from the name of the German city, Frankfurt am Main, where the sausages reputedly were invented.  Since the 1200s, Frankfurter Würstchen, were eaten by inhabitants of the town, Frankfurters, during royal coronations.

Some packages are labeled “wieners”.  This moniker relates to the Austrian city, Vienna.  The name in German is Wien. The inhabitants of Wien, Wieners, have long enjoyed a sausage made of a mixture of beef and pork.


Reportedly, a German immigrant, Charles Feltman began selling the little sausages in New York and on Coney Island. He is reputedly the first seller to place the sausages in long rolls to be eaten as finger food. Soon, other German immigrants were selling the sausages from pushcarts in New York City.

The wieners were nicknamed “dachshund dogs”.  Naturally, the American habit of simplifying names comes into play here.  Dachshund dog sausages began to be known as hot dogs.  That’s the story I like best, so I’m sticking with it. The beautiful irony is that the canine species, dachshund, is now nicknamed, “wiener-dog”.

More controversial than the names, are the ingredients of these little sausages.  Most frankfurters contain one or more of these mechanically separated meat products: beef, chicken, pork, or turkey.  The meat product might contain other tissues from the carcasses of the animals.  These are blended with fillers, like high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, maltodextrin, dried milk, and some sort of grain. In turn, water is blended into the mix, but no more than ten-percent is legally allowed. Artificial flavor enhancers and salt are added.  This is all blended together into a gooey pink paste substance.

The paste is injected into casings for the cooking process, then the finished wieners are de-cased just before packaging.   Some “prestige” brands sell natural casing wieners.  Regulations state that the animal species the casing derive from, must be shown in the ingredients list.  This is important for consumers who have religious restrictions regarding the types of animals they may eat. Because I follow a vegetarian lifestyle, I bypass any of the ingredient worries. hotdog-veggie

There are some minor controversies regarding veggie-dogs, too.  Top contender for the first manufacturer of vegetarian franks is apparently Worthington Foods. Their “Veja-Link” product was first marketed in 1949.  Since then, more “healthy food” companies have introduced their own versions.  Some of them are bland, unappetizing wieners, others are quite tasty.  Of course, you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy veggie-dogs. Maybe you just want to avoid the mystery meat used in conventional frankfurters.

The big problem with veggie-dogs is their retail price.  Even though I rarely eat faux-meat products, I still enjoy eating fake meat during holiday gatherings and special occasions.  I can only justify the sky-high price of “not-dogs” by reserving my enjoyment for baseball’s post-season World Series time in the Autumn.

Another hot dog controversy include the community traditions of hot dog eating contests.  Some folks are upset about these events, because they encourage gluttony and overconsumption of food.  There are also the concerns of more militant vegetarian and vegan groups, who dislike the fact that hot dog gulping contests promote the wholesale slaughter of animals.

I saw a semantics question come up a few weeks ago during a slow day on Facebook. Is a hot dog only a hot dog when the sausage is enclosed in the long bun as a sandwich, or if the sausage, alone, can be thought of as a hot dog. The results were evenly divided.

What about condiments and toppings?  87-percent of American adults prefer mustard on their dogs while most kids would rather use catsup.  I like my veggie dog with mustard and sauerkraut.

How do folks celebrate National Hot Dog Day?  It’s easy. You can hit the supermarket aisles and pick up a package of frankfurters or their vegetarian counterparts, boil or grill them, then enjoy.  This might be the day you decide to use a different topping on your dog.  Will you try a homemade pickle relish?  Will it be chili?  Maybe, like me, you’ll want kraut.  Perhaps you’re lucky to live in a neighborhood that has a hot dog vendor.  Buy and enjoy some there.


The Blue Jay of Happiness is thinking of the saying, “As American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie.”  Now, there’s a winning combination.

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Save The Bison

Wildlife conservation and concern about the environment aren’t the relative latecomers to activism that many of us imagine.   There have been pockets of concerned citizens who have made it their missions to preserve the native creatures of our homeland.

One of the very first species to catch the attention of conservationists is the North American Bison, popularly called buffalo.  These large animals were once a bison-03dominant part of the North American ecology and sustained a great many human inhabitants of the continent.  They migrated among the prairies and grasslands from northern Mexico to well into Canada.

The bison herds were at the base of the ecosystems of plants, other herbivores, predators, and scavengers.  It is estimated that at least 50-million of these animals roamed the continent before the arrival of European explorers and settlers.  As the United States was formed and expanded, the numbers of bison steadily declined.  Unregulated shooting by hunters armed with accurate, powerful rifles systematically wiped out the herds.  Before the end of the 1800s, the bison population was on the brink of extinction, with numbers only in the hundreds.DSCN4262

Many historians have alleged that the US government encouraged the mass extermination of bison in efforts to starve the native people during the Indian wars.  People of European ancestry were eager to settle the Great Plains and lands to the west, but the original nations were resistant to those efforts.  Historians also point out that the railroad owners wanted to eliminate the herds because the bison were judged a nuisance.  Sometimes large herd migrations crossing railroad tracks might delay trains for several hours at a time.

By the mid 1880s official encouragement of slaughter and sport shooters had brought the bison herds to their lowest population levels.  The chief taxidermist of the US National Museum, William Hornaday became greatly concerned.  Hornaday calculated that fewer than 300 bison remained in the entire United States.  He advocated for the sheltering of breeding stock of bison and other endangered species.  Hornaday was one of the first people who understood that the public needed to be educated about the fate of endangered species.

In December of 1905, Hornaday and Ernest Baynes founded the American Bison Society.  The group grew under the endorsement of its honorary president, Theodore Roosevelt. In 1907, the organization shipped 15 bison from the Bronx Zoo to Oklahoma, to begin the very first animal reintroduction on the continent. The society’s next projects included the purchase of a herd for the National Bison Range of Montana in 1910. In 1913, they donated 14 of the animals to the Wind Cave National Park, located in South Dakota.  The American Bison Society then disbanded for several decades, beginning in 1935.

In addition to the efforts of the society, one small herd of bison escaped detection of the hunters by finding refuge in a hidden, remote valley in Yellowstone National Park.  After the “Great Buffalo Hunt” was finally halted, the discovery of this last band of wild bison led to a more robust repopulation effort.

By the mid-twentieth century, the numbers of North American bison had risen, fallen, and risen again to about 4,000.  The figure was still considered to be a dangerously low number, especially given the very limited range of the animals.  Bison could still be vulnerable to disease and poaching.  On July 22, 1950, a new report was issued by the “Save the American Bison Campaign” to raise awareness of the plight of the animals across North America.

The report noted these totals, as of July 1950: Elk Island, Alberta, Canada had 500 bison; Henry Mountains of Utah had 500 bison; Wind Cave Park, South Dakota tallied 1,500 bison; and Yellowstone Park had 4,000 bison. These were the last four remaining genetically pure, free range bison herds, anywhere.


Since the 1950s, traditional conservation societies have stepped up efforts to save the bison.  More importantly, Native Americans have become more involved in these efforts.  Many of the First Nations people are reconnecting with their past and heritage.  The gains in bison population have merged with a resurgence of Native American culture in symbiotic fashion.  Just as the demise of the bison led to the near total collapse of Indian culture, the bison regrowth has brought along renewed interest in the human social structure.

These days, the traditional conservationists and the Native American groups have merged with the efforts of modern environmentalists to form a stronger coalition to preserve and maintain the integrity and strength of the still small herds of North American bison.

1984aThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Black Elk. “The bison were the  gift of a good spirit and were our strength, but we should lose them, and from the same good spirit, we must find another strength.”

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