In re: Irving – the secret ingredient in Vienna hot dogs?

This past week on This American Life (one of my favorite things of the week is listening to this) had a unique show: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes

Instead of the regular “each week we choose a theme, and bring you three or four stories on that theme” business, this week we throw all that away and bring you twenty stories—yes, twenty—in sixty minutes. Inspiration for this week’s show came from the Neo-Futurists, whose long-running Chicago show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind promises 30 Plays in 60 Minutes every single weekend.

Act 14: 

 One of the very short pieces this week was about the Vienna Sausage factory in Chicago that moved from its old cobbled together factory in the 1970s to the northside of Chicago.  The original factory in the South was put together over 70 years buying up more of a block and wasn’t the model of efficient design.  After the move the hot dogs weren’t as good, despite the most state of the art equipment, using the same ingredients, etc.  Everything had been accounted for yet for a year and a half they couldn’t figure out why they didn’t taste right and didn’t have the right color.  

The reason, which they only figured out  while chatting about the old days, was Irving who didn’t make the move to the new plant, but who had wheeled the hot dogs from the manufacutring room to the smoke house.  The thing was that this took a while and served as a cooling period because it took 30 minutes to do the walk through the twisting factory.  There was no Irving at the new plant – there was no need – and it was Irving’s trip was the secret ingredient.  So they built a new room to leave them in and cool and that new addition was to recreate teh effect of Irvings walk.

The point of the story?  well obviously one could take several things from it, but the point TAL makes is that even when they thought they were doing everything right while building the new factory, sometimes we don’t know why we are successful in the first place.

via This American Life .


One Response

  1. There’s certainly a lot to find out about this topic. I love all of
    the points you’ve made.

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