Monday, February 12, 2001

A new wrinkle

When 'PC' stands for plum crazy

        New on your grocer's shelf, it's ... political correctness.

        Prunes are now — Voila! — Dried Plums.

        They're still nature's dynamite. But with a new name.

        Thanks, anyway. I'll pass.

        My stomach's already feeling cramped with worry.

        Changing the names of foodstuff is spooky.

        The thought police could run amok and come gunning for our local delicacies.

        Today, prunes.

        Tomorrow, Cincinnati chili, schnecken and — gasp! — goetta.

        Prunes got dumped because of their negative image. They're linked with wrinkles and problems somewhere below the belt.

Bombs away
        Plums by nature possess smooth skin. That connotes an image of youth and activities such as snacking and not caring about the name of that morsel you just stuffed in your face. Just the thought makes me want to bite into something like, say, a nonjuicy dried plum.

        That's exactly what the California Dried Plum Board, formerly the California Prune Board, hopes everyone will do.

        The more prunes, er, dried plums eaten, the better the board feels. And the more money dried plum growers make.

        The hope of making more money off a new name — repackaging the prune — prompted the board to petition the Food and Drug Administration to approve the name change.

        The ease with which prunes became dried plums left my stomach in knots. Political correctness is a big eater. It won't stop just with prunes.

        Raisins could be gobbled up next. After all, they are dried grapes.

Name that food
        The thought police would love to feast on Cincinnati's curious cuisine. But they must be beaten at their own game.

        To help defeat the name-changers, I enlisted a panel of experts. John, Ron and Dick Stehlin, Ron Seger and Paul Jaeger — butchers at Stehlin's Meats in Bevis — came up with new names for old favorites. So did Phill Adams, deli manager at Fairfield's Jungle Jim's.

        Before outsiders rename beloved staples of the Cincinnati diet, I joined these experts in trying to take preventive action.

        Erring on the side of literalism, we came up with aliases that are — in some cases — not as appetizing as the original names of these local favorites:

        Cincinnati Chili — Show off chili's Hispanic origins and Cincinnati's German heritage. New name: Chili con carne mit cinnamon, paprika und cocoa.


        Cottage Ham — “Leave this one alone,” John Stehlin warned. “It's real name is: Smoked Pork Shoulder Butt. Cottage ham is already politically correct.”

        Spareribs — Dick Stehlin thinks these ribs are bound to take a hit. He's never met a pig “with ribs to spare.” New name: Required Ribs.

        Limburger Cheese — “Smells bad,” said Phill Adams. “Tastes earthy. Consistency of modeling clay.” New name: Clay Cheese.

        Schnecken — Butter-laden, artery-clogging breakfast cake.

        Goetta — “What else can you call this big seller?” John Stehlin asked. “It's a molded loaf of pork, beef, spices and oatmeal.” New name: “What's That?”

        Warming to the task, the panel turned to a national brand. Consensus was reached on a new name for Spam:

        Don't Ask.

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.


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