Hotdogs Out of Hearses - Serving hot dogs the living will relish

    I came across this interesting little article on Nothing To Do With Arbroath.  The articles is about a car collector who bought a used Cadillac hearse for only $12,000 at an auction (quite cheap actually).  When picking it up he was surprised to discover that there was a coffin inside.  One thing lead to another and he converted the inside of the coffin to a stove and started selling hot dogs out of it.

    What got my attention was when he said "some people take a dim view of this because of the controversy of mixing food and death."  Ie goes on to say that  "I've had a lot more people stop me just to take a picture."  This was interesting to me as it says a lot about how we see the hearse and the coffin as well as death.

    To me (and most other undertakers) there is nothing special about the hearse of coffin.  I see the hearse as just a car and little else.  And the coffin is a cheap wooden box (or sometimes metal) with nothing else to it.  To me a coffin is as special as a table and the hearse is as special as a taxi.  I most certainly do not associate the hearse or coffin with death or anything like it.

    However this is not the same for others, especially those who do not or have not worked in the industry.  From the quote we see that some people do not like the idea of "mixing food and death".  That there is something taboo about this, that people think of it as wrong.  This could be because some associate or at least link the hearse and coffin with death and that food should not be associated with death.

    On the flip side the desire to sell food from a hearse says just as much as the ideas against it.  The idea of mixing food and death (as the article puts it) is novel or strange.  One customer stated that they were "going to tell everyone in the office about this," so clearly to them buying a hotdog here was a story worth telling to others.  It's not because anything unusual or special happened, they bought a hot dog.  We would hardly tell our co-workers about buying a hotdog normally.  But she caught it from a hearse, and this in itself was worth telling for her.  There is clearly a certain novelty about this business, for both the customers and sellers, which is also evident in the fact that this was considered news worthy.  I highly doubt a story about a new hotdog vendor would gather much attention normally.

    Despite this it is clear and understandable that the novelty is only temporary with the business owner saying that "once the novelty goes over, and people laugh, I want the food quality to be tops."  The article follows with "in other words, keep serving hot dogs the living will relish."  The novelty is only temporary, which is expected.  Repeated interactions with most things will make it mundane, only new things are novel.  I also expect it to be a temporary novelty from this business as there is really nothing special about it.  It's no different to selling hotdogs out of a truck as the hearse is just a long car and the coffin is just a stove and table.  So once people by a hotdog or two they would come to realise this, that really it was only a superficial novelty at best.

    Another thing that grabbed me was the taboo of mixing food and death.  Yet we do this constantly at almost every funeral.  Almost all funerals will have food at the end, it is rather unusual not to eat at a funeral.

    This business brings a hearse and coffin to the public, showing how food and death can be directly mixed.  However in doing this it is also saying there is something strange or novel about the hearse and coffin which is untrue in many ways.


Original Article at Mercury News.

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