Cars crowd the parking lot of 7-Eleven at the corner of Pacific and Puente avenues in Baldwin Park. Outside it’s hot. Probably 95 and getting hotter.
Inside, El Monte resident Tony Garcia buys a hot dog and smothers it with relish, mustard and onions.
About 21 other Oscar Meyer meat products rotate slowly on the grill, beckoning the hungry.
Far away in New Jersey, The Cancer Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit vegan group has been making news with its class action lawsuit demanding hot dogs come with warning labels:
“Warning: Consuming Hot Dogs and Other Processed Meats Increases the Risk of Cancer.”
The lawyers want $2,700 for each of their clients to cover damages and attorney fees. That’s some serious lunch money.
“We believe that the consumers should be informed. The plaintiffs feel burned,” notes Jeanne Stuart McVey, a spokeswoman for the group. “They thought hot dogs were safe. They learned they were wrong.”
The defendants in the suit include wieners, dogs and two types of frankfurters.
Brats, kielbasa, andouille, Italian sweets, Slim Jims and foot-long Dodger dogs are apparently unnamed co-conspirators and don’t figure in the case.
Neither does liverwurst, pastrami, bologna or bacon.
Good thing they didn’t find a way to include chicken Top Ramen either, because in my house that list would cover the four basic food groups.
McVey said the case rests on science. Specifically she said the suit cites from 58 studies that link processed meats, like hot dogs, to cancer.
But those studies probably didn’t take into account anyone who bought hot dogs during the past four weeks at the Baldwin Park 7-Eleven.
Just ask Mohan Kamthasamy, who has sold 2,020 “Big Bites” since June 24. Those sales far outweigh the 1,096 purchases of nacho chips, chicken and steak taquitos, pizzas and cheeseburger rolls during the same time frame.
And there’s a good reason for it, that goes well beyond the “A” rating bestowed on Kamthasamy’s store by the county Health Department.
“Everybody wants fast food,” Kamthasamy said. “We’ve never had a problem with people getting sick.
“And, everyone likes hot dogs. School kids, professional people, gardeners, they want to get something to take. And, it’s cheap too. You cannot beat the price.”
Kamthasamy sells a Big Bite, a bag of chips and a pop for $2.99.
Garcia estimates he buys three hot dogs a week from 7-Eleven. And, that estimate doesn’t include the number of times he takes a young relative to the convenience store for a dog after school.
“He loves it,” Garcia said.
Having eaten my share of Oscar Meyer hot dogs from 7-Elevens around the country, often washed down with a beer and a cigarette, I can say with confidence that warning labels are a waste of time.