I haven't eaten a hot dog since I was a Freshman in high school. That's when I was required to read the book "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. The assignment was for my U.S. History class to supplement our study of the industrial revolution.
The morbidity of the working conditions at the turn-of-the-century mixed with the corruption taking place inside the meat packing factories were exposed by Sinclair and resulted in a public outrage that surprised even the author himself. Foreign sales of American meat fell by one-half. It was said that Sinclair bitterly admitted his celebrity rose "not because the public cared anything about the workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef."
Is the chemical aftertaste the reason why people eat hot dogs or is it some kind of bonus? Now, intellectually, I know that hot dogs have come a long way since then and are perfectly fine to eat, but emotionally, because I still remember those disgusting images that the author conjured up for me in my mind I just can't force myself to partake. That's good writing. His book played a crucial role in the creation of what became today's Food and Drug Administration. That's great writing.
Upton Sinclair's words were especially persuasive because he wrote with passion. He chose a topic that he felt strongly about and intended to arouse within the reader a call to action. When he began writing the novel, he was quoted as saying "Hello! I'm Upton Sinclair, and I'm here to write the Uncle Tom's Cabin of the Labor Movement!"
Sinclair's novel was finally published after five rejections, becoming an immediate bestseller. It has been in print ever since 1906. For those of you who are writing with great dreams of changing the world, just remember Upton Sinclair and the hot dog. Keep submitting your manuscripts and keep writing with passion!
May the BBQ of life only roast your hot dogs and never burn your buns.