To The Woman Who Told My Toddler That Hot Dogs Are Gross

I don’t have any recent photos of Avery eating hot dogs, so here is one of her eating grapes and sweet potato fries.

I don’t have any recent photos of Avery eating hot dogs, so here is one of her eating grapes and sweet potato fries.


I know you probably meant well. That’s why I didn’t say anything snarky as I walked away, with my crying toddler. I was glad when you crossed to the other side of the mall, and were no longer following behind us.

You could tell she was having a rough day when you stopped us, telling your much younger child to “Say hi to the little girl” You asked me “Tired or hungry?”  The standard two reasons for toddler tantrums in public places.  “Hungry”  I responded with a sigh.

“I want a hot dog from Taaaaaarrrrrget” my daughter pleaded. Pulling on my arm in desperation to get to that big red bulls eye that she could see, just out of reach. As she started to say it again you stopped her. “Oh no honey!  You don’t want a yucky hot dog from Target!  They are so gross!” you said.  I was a bit stunned, and felt like I needed to defend my child and myself as a mother “We’re going through a hot dog phase, it’s the only protein we can get her to eat lately” (This isn’t completely true, but It was all I could think of besides “Mind your own business, jerk! The girl likes hot dogs!”) I felt my cheeks turning red. Avery begged again “come on, lets go to Target! I wanna eat hot dogs!”

Let me be clear here. My girl eats well. She does not live on processed foods, microwave dinners or happy meals. She enjoys lots of fresh fruits and veggies. She drinks only the most expensive  best organic, hormone free milk. She drinks water, and rarely juice. She loves cheese and organic pasta. When she eats hotdogs at home they are either turkey dogs or uncured beef–All natural, hormone free, antibiotic free, nitrate free gluten free…judgement free.

But you don’t know that.

Because you don’t know us.

If you did know us, you would know that my daughter sometimes goes for 2 or 3 days, grazing, only eating small amounts of food. It’s as if she can’t be bothered with sitting for a meal when there are duck Vs dinosaurs battles to be had, songs to dance to and castles to build. An apple slice here, half a waffle there, a few bites of macaroni and cheese, or a some watermelon and if we’re lucky, a whole bag of pirate’s booty, goldfish or a GoGo Squeez pouch. So, when she actually requests something, and tells me she is hungry and WANTS to eat, I don’t say “no, that’s gross” (within reason) I say “OK!!  Hooray for eating!” Even if it’s a Target hot dog (they are all beef, by the way) or nuggets, or a blueberry muffin from Dunkin. (Note: her doctor has no concerns about her health, her growth or her nutrition–In his words, she is a “Typical toddler” and very, VERY healthy.)

But, you don’t know us.

When she cried for a hotdog, you again said to her “Ew no, yucky yucky!! They are gross!” Then followed with “What about a pretzel?  Will she eat a pretzel?”

I’m sure you didn’t know that she had just stopped crying over the fact that I had said “No, not today” to my daughter’s request for “pretzels in a cup!” at Auntie Anne’s.  Not because I have anything against pretzels, I absolutely love them, but I didn’t want to buy her one, have her take two bites (as is her norm) and then ask, again, for a hot dog from Target.

You see, she is MY daughter. For the last 2 years, 4 months, and 23 days ( and 16 hours and 16+ minutes–but who’s counting?) I’ve been living with her. Learning about her. Coming to understand her (sometimes) She does surprise me on occasion, like the day she housed all the peppers from the crudité platter at a play date) but, for the most part, I know what she likes, and what she doesn’t.

I also know that she had forgotten about the pretzels until you brought it up, and that you saying “hot dogs are gross” got the wheels turning in her toddler mind that “Ewwww hot dogs are gross”

I know that you didn’t mean any harm.  Maybe you take child nutrition very seriously, maybe you own a health food store, maybe you used to be very overweight as a child, maybe you are a nutritionist or work in a social services field and see malnourished children daily, or are concerned about our growing childhood obesity epidemic, maybe you just have a passionate distaste for hot dogs.

I don’t know. I don’t know you.

Your son looked much younger than my daughter.  Maybe a year, maybe 18 months. I’m terrible at guessing, but, definitely younger. Perhaps he hasn’t reached the stage where he refuses to eat what you serve him. Maybe he loves kale and artichoke hearts served over a bed of quinoa with a side of feta and grapes. Maybe he’s younger than I thought and not even eating those things yet. Maybe he’s not at the stage of saying “NO!” while pushing his plate right off his highchair tray and on to the floor.

I don’t know. I don’t know him.

So I walked away.

We headed for Target. My little girl crying “I never want a hot dog at Target! They are gross and yucky!”   Me saying “no!  hot dogs are yummy! you love hot dogs!”   Thank the lord she LOVES the girls who work at Target’s Starbucks (we *May* have a little bit of an addiction, and go there daily often) So I started telling her we were going to see her “friends in the Target kitchen” and she calmed down enough to realize that she did, in fact, like hot dogs.

I know that you didn’t mean any harm, and honestly, I wasn’t upset or too bothered by your comments. I just hope that the next time you you overhear a toddler pleading for a hot dog,  instead of saying “Eww, no! That’s gross” You say something like, “Aww, enjoy your lunch, sweetie”

Because you don’t know them, you don’t know their story.



And there isn’t anything wrong with a Target hot dog every now and then!


  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    WOW. I would have been MAJORLY P.O’d at that woman. You are a very understanding mom, but seriously – how nervy to insert her opinions and to actually say that in front of your daughter. I am sure that will happen to her one day and she will understand why she was wrong.

  2. Beth @ TheAngelForever says:

    Love this for so many reasons. Whether a hot dog or something else, people need to think before they talk to a child. No matter what the age, if you do not know the kid, the current situation, and what needs to be done – please stay out of it. We often have this when well meaning people try to tell my son who is in a panic not to worry. What they don’t understand is he has Asperger’s and you can’t simply stop the worries. When I am using tough love or specific words, it is because I know my child and how to fix the problem and calm him down.
    Beth @ TheAngelForever recently posted…The Middle School Phone DebateMy Profile

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you Beth! I know you have experienced things like this, not just with food, but other issues. You’re exactly right, WE know our children, let us handle the parenting, and butt out!

  3. Caitlin says:

    so rude! We are vegan and people have told Elinor (also 2 and refusing food that I know she loves) that maybe she just needs to eat some meat and will be happy. Why?? Why ever would you say something like that to someone’s child?!
    Caitlin recently posted…I like foodMy Profile

    • Sarah says:

      That is so ignorant! I would never say such a thing to a child! I wouldn’t say it to the parents either! We all make our own choices as to how we feed our families, and it truly is not the business of anyone else as long as our kids are being fed, and growing, and thriving!

  4. TechyDad says:

    How frustrating. My youngest is a picky eater. I swear he lives on grilled cheese, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and dark chocolate peanut butter sandwiches. He absolutely refuses all vegetables and most meat products. His view seems to be “If I’ve never tried it before, I don’t like it.”

    He, too, likes hot dogs. This took us by surprise as he tried it for a relative and has since decided he likes them. So if the one meat food he likes (and one of a few options he won’t complain about) was taken away from us by some careless adult who thought she was “helping” by calling hot dogs “yucky”?!!! Well, I might have beaten said adult with a spatula. (Mental note: Begin carrying a spatula around at all times… just in case.)
    TechyDad recently posted…Television Eras Ending And BeginningMy Profile

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you for the comment! It was hard for me to just walk away from her without saying something snarky, but I try my best not to let my daughter seen me get nasty with even the nastiest of people! However, I am not above bludgeoning with a spatula!
      In other news, I am now craving a dark chocolate peanut butter sandwich!!

  5. Karen W says:

    OMG the nerve of people. When my oldest was a baby, I was food shopping and she was sitting in the cart drinking her bottle. Some old lady comes up to me, grabs her own breast and says to me “Breast is Best”. At first I didn’t know what she said, I was pretty shocked she grabbed her breast, then I realized what she said and just smiled and walked away.

    Honestly I didn’t know how to defend myself and what I was doing. Because frankly why should I?

    What she didn’t know is that my milk NEVER came in when I had my first child. I tried for days, weeks even, to pump and got a tenth of an ounce a day. Seriously! What she also didn’t know is that I cried a lot because I couldn’t nurse my own child. And I also cried because the more she tried, the more it hurt me. I also cried because I had major postpartum depression. What she also didn’t know is that I also felt like a failure because I couldn’t feed my child from my own body. The way it was designed to be done. She also didn’t know I cried because I realized had I bore her in the olden days, before formula, my child would have either starved, or been fed by a total stranger. And I felt horrible knowing that.

    And besides all that, maybe that bottle was filled with breast milk and I was food shopping while she drank the breast milk in a bottle, so I could supply my body with food to produce more milk.

    I will never forget that. It absolutely stayed with me and my daughter is almost 10.

    People need to mind their own business. They don’t know what’s going on in your life and why you make the choices that you make. At least you are feeding your child rather than buying things for yourself.

    There is nothing wrong with a hot dot from Target every now and then. Or a happy meal.
    Karen W recently posted…HOT Finish Printable Coupon and Walmart & Rite Aid DealsMy Profile

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you for sharing that!! I too had no milk supply along with other issues. and experienced similar, though nothing quite as awful and ignorant as your experience with that terrible woman! I will never understand why people think their opinions on parenting (and other things) should be shared with random strangers!

  6. Stefany says:

    This would really upset me too. If your child doesn’t eat all the time and they want to eat something specific, I am with you… give it to them! Anyone who feels the need to get into my business needs to butt out. I am glad your daughter didn’t take the woman’s words to heart.
    Stefany recently posted…Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad RecipeMy Profile

  7. Pam says:

    When my daughter was little, almost every food made her sick. We were lucky to get her to keep down French fries or a grilled cheese. We got a lot of people telling us about how bad her dietary habits were. That woman was definitely out of line, but I can’t believe how often stuff like that happens.

  8. Kristin says:

    I’ve learned not to be surprised at the behavior of strangers anymore. You are very, VERY polite. I would have been annoyed at the hot dog remark (because I would have seen it as her judging my choices for my child)…but then when she recommended the pretzel? REALLY? Who the heck are YOU to make food choices for my child? I mean, what the heck, do you see me standing here? I actually run my household when you’re not around, without any help from YOU!!

    See, I’m already getting way too annoyed with this lady and it didn’t even happen to me. LOL.

    You keep doing your thing. You handled it remarkably!
    Kristin recently posted…Wedding Dresses Under $100 at Light In the BoxMy Profile

  9. Ronni says:

    Oh Honey…
    You handled that way better than I would have! I am not 1 to throw down and be all drama queen on people. But, it irks me to no end when ‘those people’ start parenting for ‘other people’… Even if, by chance, your girly lived on Happy meals and Hot Pockets, it’s none of her business. If you’re not whopping your kid with a tree branch, I’m certainly not telling you what to do, or not do. That’s why she calls YOU mommy. It’s about 1 of the only things I get really vocal about. My kid, my rules. I’d have to put a few quarters in the swear jar when we got home from that little outing 😉

  10. Nancy L (StyleDecor) says:

    Yes. It is very rude for her to have done that to your daughter. We have a health nut in our family and she is constantly criticizing everybody in the family for what they eat. Even my Italian mother-in-law’s favorite olive oil that she has used for the last 30 years is bad stuff. Grrrr….
    Nancy L (StyleDecor) recently posted…Couture At Your Door!My Profile

  11. Sandra says:

    Wow I am sure that was so hard. I would have been taken back as well. You handled it well, and each kid has their own unique taste and is their own person. Gotta trust them each to know what they like and don’t.

  12. Kathleen Garber says:

    I can see it from both sides but I mostly side with you. I can see that the woman thought she was being helpful but I can see maybe once commenting on her opinion that something else would be better than hotdogs but not continually going on about it till your daughter changes her mind. It’s not like you said you were going to feed her dog food. Sometimes people don’t realize they should just butt out I guess.
    Kathleen Garber recently posted…Coming in October: The Blogathon Games!My Profile

  13. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    What a afternoon at the mall you had! I do not know how i would have reacted if i had been in the same situation. I agree i don’t think the lady meant any harm she needs to realize that maybe its not a good idea to put any negative ideas into a toddlers mind. If she wants a hot dog let her have a darn hot dog.

  14. brett says:

    we all need to take a step back and remember that we ALL Have our own stories. we’re seeing a teeny snapshot of a person’s life and we have no idea what they’ve experienced that’s led to that moment.

    i’d get avery a shirt that says i love hot dogs.

    but that’s me.

  15. April says:

    People need to mind their business! I did not eat hot dogs until I was in college because my mom refused to let me. There was some news story in the 80s that made people stop eating hot dogs. It is nuts. I love them now and cannot believe that it took me that long to try them.
    April recently posted…Kalla MiamiMy Profile

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