5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Mechanically Separated Meat, Things that Sparkle and Penalty Kicks that Last for Days

photo credit: #22/366 Meet The Squad via photopin (license)
photo credit: #22/366 Meet The Squad via photopin (license)

I take for granted readers know what the heck Go Ask Daddy is all about.

Every time (OK, 67% of the time) my girls ask me a question, from what our brains are made of to the elements of quicksand to stuff about the Avengers, I jot it down in a handy yellow notebook that never leaves my side.

Each Friday, I select a random assortment of questions, hit Google like a champ, and disperse the knowledge. To the entire world.

This week, we’re looking into all kinds of cool stuff, such as skater physics and big green dudes on the silver screen.

1. What’s in hot dogs?

photo credit: Mr Jaded via photopin cc
photo credit: Mr Jaded via photopin cc

Not dog. Usually.

This is timely, because July is National Hot Dog Month, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (I’m not a member, no, but, call me, Council. Call me.)

Not surprisingly, hot dogs are government-regulated, and can contain:

  • No more than 30 percent fat or 10 percent water
  • No more than 3.5 percent can be non-meat binder, such as cereal, dried whole milk or non-fat dry milk or …
  • 2 percent isolated soy protein

This allows room for other things, such as mechanically separated chicken or turkey (blended meat and bone bits), pork (with no bones), corn syrup, beef (no bones), salt (about 480 milligrams, or a fifth of your daily allowance), potassium lactate, sodium phosphates, flavorings, beef stock, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, maltodextrin, sodium nitrate, and extractives of paprika.

Let’s fire up the grill.

2. How do skaters stay on their feet on the half-pipe?

They rub potassium lactate on their boards.

Actually, it’s as simple as this:


Any questions?

You know how you kick your legs on the swings to go high enough to get yelled at?

That’s what the skater does when he crouches until he gets to the curve of the halfpipe, then raising up and lifting his arms. This increases his velocity with every pass, eventually giving him enough sick air to perform a narly trick.

3. What’s in a sparkler?

photo credit: Pixel Addict via photopin cc
photo credit: Pixel Addict via photopin cc

The same things that are in a hot dog.

No, the aspiration of the American sparkler are to shine a long time – as long as a minute (although our sparklers from the Target dollar bin didn’t seem to last that long, did they?)

Sparklers have substances that allow them to shine bright like Tony Hawk on a halfpipe:

  • An oxidizer
  • A fuel (usually charcoal and sulfur)
  • Aluminum, iron, steel or other metal powder
  • A combustible binder (shellac, starch or sugar)

It’s mixed with water, and dried on a stick.

When you light the end of it, you heat the metal flakes to shine and burn, giving off the sparks to oohs and ahhhs. Because the fuel and oxidizer are proportioned, it doesn’t go off like a firecracker, but rather burns slowly like electrified incense.

What kind of sparks would we get if we lit the end of a hot dog on fire?

4. Is there a Hulk movie?


Yes. But it wasn’t as good as The Avengers. You just can’t mess with a comic book storyline much and get away with it.

It came out in 2003. Only Elise can see it (it’s rated PG-13, so it’s stuff she sees and hears in high school.) I’ve never seen it. Jennifer Connelly is in it. That’s notable. Critics called it dark and depressing, but it’s tough to paint with sunshine the tale of a doctor cursed by mutant DNA to turn into a green monster anytime someone pisses him off.

We did love Hulk in The Avengers, and rumor is there’ll be a Hulk movie out in 2015.

Who ever thought it would take three daughters to turn me into a Marvel fan?

5. What’s the most penalty kicks they’ve taken in soccer?

photo credit: Sad goalie via photopin (license)
photo credit: Sad goalie via photopin (license)

Fifty. Can you believe that?

It took two days to complete the match.

In 2012, Two California high school teams, Bishop’s of La Jolla and San Diego Crawford, drew 3-3 in regulation and overtime, and went 21 rounds of PKs before the sun began to set on Day 1. The teams considered starting over the next day, but city rules said they had to finish the penalty kicks.

An incredible 29 rounds later, a Crawford shooter missed a kick his team needed to force a 30th round, giving Bishop’s the state title.

Speaking of hot dogs (we were, weren’t we?) check out the video below, what’s been called the worst penalty shootout ever. No hot dogs here.

penalty quote


  1. laurie27wsmith says:

    Hot dogs. The *meat* that goes into them is usually from bits of the animal that people don’t discuss around the dinner table, other than cheeks, gristle and the like. *pass the paprika*
    The Hulk. It’s a wonder you weren’t asked why do Bruce Banner’s pants stay on when the rest of his clothes fly off. This is a question I’ve often asked myself.
    Sparklers. Now if the NSA are following this blog I may get into trouble but you can bundle those sparklers together and light them up, whump! I miss blowing up letterboxes with firecrackers. There I’ve said it, I’ve used a weapon of mass combustion.
    Another good blog Eli, I don’t know how people can not understand how this works. You’ll hve to go ask them.

    1. Part of me thinks it’s noble to not waste any part of the animal, but …

      Bruce Banner wears the same jeans I do. His adjust to his growth when he becomes the Hulk. Mine expand when I go to the pizza buffet. So, we’re kind of the same, he and I.

      You know you’re going to have a drone following you around from here on out, right?

      1. laurie27wsmith says:

        Yeah, eat the lot but oh boy. What the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve over, or in this case the stomach. Expandable jeans, right, like expandable pants for pregnant ladies just keep letting them out. A wise move.
        *peeks outside* Yep, another one just went past, it’s those little laser dots flicking around the place that bothers me.

      2. Let’s be honest, Laurie – Big Brother’s been after you for quite some time anyway. That’s one of the things I most admire about you. You’re a renegade and a poet.

      3. laurie27wsmith says:

        Why thank you *click, click* just checking the phone. I have been filmed in many places, in supermarkets I dance little jigs in front of the cameras or kiss the good wife. Let’s face it, the poor sods who have to look at this stuff need some entertainment. I have also been known to sing out loud for those with recording technology. One day they will take me awa…………….

  2. Letizia says:

    I can’t believe the goalie’s mistake in that penalty kick!!!!! Incredible that he just walks away….

    1. I know … I showed my kids. Never take your eye off the ball … and conversely, never give up hope, if you’re the shooter.

  3. I feel smarter already! But seriously, I really have seen hotdogs spark in the microwave. I don’t even want to know why…

    1. So long as you don’t feel dumber after a visit here, I’m happy, Jamie. Were the sparks from your hot dog red, white and blue? My theory is maybe they’re made in the same factory, and half just have a stick stuck in them and are put in a different box as sparklers.

  4. What a blessing you are providing your daughters to answer their questions with such thoughtful research. Go daddy! 🙂

    1. Thanks brother – although it’s getting to the point that when they ask me something in their young inquisitive way, they follow the question up with, “is this going on your blog?” Oh, the woes of having a blogging dad.

  5. Tamara says:

    Whoa, nice new look around here, right? Maybe? I’m the type that you can get a hot new haircut or shave a beard or if you’re a girl, cut your hair (or maybe shave a beard) and I won’t notice. I noticed this, I think? I love the way all of your thoughts connect in the long run. It is all about what they put in hot dogs isn’t it?
    (P.S. I’m never eating one again)

    1. You noticed! I try to switch up the theme once a season, sweep up the cobwebs, collect the empties, and give it a new look. I hadn’t heard a thing about the new look, so I was beginning to think it wasn’t too popular – and it’ll change again in the fall, anyway. But it’s not as great as my last haircut.

      It’s always all connected, isn’t it? And today, it all seemed to get back to the hot dog. It kept … repeating itself, I suppose.

      Heck, I keep writing stuff like this, I’ll be eating turkey burgers instead.

      Wait, what’s really in a turkey burger?

  6. 50 PKs is just ridiculous. I’d lose interest after 10 max.

    Also I’ve seen how Oscar Mayer makes their hotdogs. It’s not as gross as people think. In fact, it made me feel better about eating their hotdogs. Though I’m more of a bacon cheeseburger kind of gal.

    1. Five PKs is enough to give me a coronary. We won two tournament games in two nights on penalty kicks back in ’08. High drama, but it does a number on your ticker.

      You know, I should allow you to do a point/counterpoint with me on the wieners.

      I’m more of a bacon cheeseburger gal, too. Well, guy.

  7. Did you know that sunfish like hot dogs (or they’re just that dumb)? I used to go fishing…with hot dogs. I’ve since overcome being icked out by worms, but now I don’t live near water or have a license…C’est la vie!

    1. Last time Grace and I went fishing, a dad and his son were using hot dogs. We caught more with nightcrawlers and fish eggs and crappie treats (they call sunfish crappie here in the south).

      Grace catches enough sunfish for the both of you!

      1. Well sunfish are pretty crappy for eating – no meat…not that I can eat fish even if I wanted to try. 🙂 Enjoy those lazy days!

      2. We’ll fish all day, catch and release, and then pick up a Fish fillet sandwich on the ride home, maybe. We’re about to have some lazy days on the coast, and I’m sure she’s going to want to bring her fishing pole. Love it.

  8. Rorybore says:

    Hot dogs: The Great Outdoors movie with John Candy, Dan Aykroyd and some racoons who knock over garbage cans. If the racoons won’t eat the hot dogs…..???? that’s all Imma gonna say about that.
    What about the Hulk movie with Edward Norton and Liv Tyler? Did you know there were 2 versions — or like my hubby – No, No. There is only one – we don’t count THAT one. Although I do admit, I love Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk in The Avengers the best.
    So….is that a goooooooaaaaallllll? I don’t think that’s a goal. Did the ref blow his whistle once the initial stop was made by the goalie?? because that would mean “play is dead”. I watched several times, but I can’t tell if a whistle blows.

    1. Your comments actually creep into my mind as I write my blog, you know that?

      Maybe those hot dogs weren’t kosher …

      Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk was instantly classic. I didn’t even know of one with Edward Norton and Liv Tyler. Jennifer Connelly, though …

      I couldn’t make out whether the whistle had blown on that PK, but I suspect it didn’t, given the referee’s attention on the ball … it doesn’t look as if it ever stopped after the keeper touched it, and it stayed in play … so the lesson I told my girls was that bad things happen when you prioritize hot-doggin!

      Grace walked back to center circle once after scoring a goal, as a robot, but that’s about as flashy as they’ve gotten in a match.

  9. I love your 5 for Friday feature! However, I’d rather not have known what’s in Hot Dogs 😉
    Also – the scene with the goalie hurt my German soccer heart…

    1. Thanks Kerstin – you wouldn’t believe the backlog of questions I have waiting from these kids. I figure with hot dogs, if you can’t pronounce it, how bad can it be for you?

      The kids and I have watched that video over and over and over. My heart hurts, and I’m not even German.

  10. gina4star says:

    That’s such a fab idea to write it all down! Interesting things here, but… eugh mechanically separated meat makes me queasy! Haha, it took me until the third or fourth replay to get what happened in that video (I am a bit slow sometimes) oh.dear! Unbelievable! And very funny! 😛

    1. I used to try to keep notes in my phone, but it’s not a smartphone, quite the opposite. You can thank me for choosing to forgo a detailed definition of the mechanical separation process.

      As for the soccer – I have always thought that the moment you think you’re awesome on the pitch, you’re not. It’s just not usually in such heartbreaking ways.

  11. I had to watch that video twice. Can you imagine?! What a horrible mistake to make — but honestly, who would think the ball would go in AFTER the save? Yikes.

    1. I think that goalkeeper had to watch it twice, too. You know how we coaches tell the kids, “play til the whistle?” That.

      He just got a piece of the ball, really, so you’d think he’s try to secure it just to make sure.

      Next time, probably.

  12. Not sure I want to eat a hot dog ever again after this…but hey, at least there’s going to be a new Hulk movie in 2015!

    1. You know, now that you mention both things at once … I wonder how many ingredients a hot dog and the Hulk have in common.

  13. Megan Walker says:

    Oh gross! I could barely bring myself to eat hot dogs before, but now I REALLY won’t be able to touch them! Sparklers are my favorite firework. So shiny : )

    Thanks for sharing on Hump Day Happenings and congratulations on the feature!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      This one wasn’t for the weak of stomach, MW. As is the case with many of us men, if you throw the wrapper away, it’s not like you’re really eating those things.

      Sparklers are easy, aren’t they? No explosions, no fuses. They’re the ham sandwich of fireworks.

      Thanks for your selection as the feature in Hump Day Happenings, Megan. There’s a lot of good stuff in there. I recognize a few of my cronies in the mix, too.

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