“Radar Dogs” remind me that all is not (yet) lost

If you’re ever in despair about how slowly we as a society are responding to the problems we’ve brought upon ourselves through reckless use of the earth’s resources and excessive faith in the marvels of technology, I have a story to cheer you up — a little.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, I worked my way through university doing manual labour. In 1959, I was working in a factory in the city where I grew up. My friend Tim and I both worked 4 pm to midnight, and, after work, we’d meet at the Mill Grill, a lively little restaurant on Central Avenue, the main drag of the factory district.

One night, the Mill Grill was hopping,

in part because there was a new special: Radar Dogs, hot dogs grilled in a new-fangled oven that I’ve come to know as a microwave. The guys liked the dogs and they were obviously selling well. (We were all guys, except for the waitresses, but that’s a blog post for another time.)

Think about that. In 1959, the idea of food cooked with something like radar, was not only a novelty, it was a selling point. We were so thoughtlessly optimistic about innovative technology, and so impervious to the idea that advances might come with health or environmental consequences, that the word “radar” could be used as a selling-point for food.

That could never happen today because, as a society, we’ve learned to be more cautious about technological “advances”. It’s not utopia, but it is progress — real progress, not the kind we were optimistic about in 1959.

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