5 Common Sense Products That Are Weirdly Hard To Find
Most of our society's resources are now dedicated to inventing new things for people to buy and then convincing those people that they can't possibly live without those things. That's why it's almost shocking when you find obvious gaps in the marketplace -- products and services that you're pretty sure lots of people want, but which no one is selling. For example ...
Why Can't You Get A Hot Dog At McDonald's?
If you were opening a restaurant that mostly sold burgers and you needed other edible objects to complement them, wouldn't hot dogs be the first thing that came to mind? I mean, the question "Hot dogs or hamburgers?" has historically done a better job of explaining someone's personality than any horoscope ever could. Hot dogs are an institution, and yet they're nowhere to be found at McDonald's, or most places like it. Hot dogs came and went at Burger King not long ago, and have popped up at foreign McDonald's locations here and there, but the chain hasn't sold them throughout the U.S. since the '90s -- which was coincidentally when they first attempted to do so.
If you were to have asked McDonald's former owner Ray Kroc about it, he'd have told you there was a "damned good reason" for their absence: "There's no telling what's inside a hot dog's skin, and our standard of quality just wouldn't permit that kind of menu item." But even outside of burger places, there's a strange lack of hot dogs in the fast food world. Nathan's has fewer than 300 stores in the U.S., compared to upwards of 14,000 McDonald's locations. Surely some wiener experts have an explanation for this. One suggestion is that since hot dogs are a huge choking hazard for young children, the big chains are worried that they will kill their customer base much faster than their products are normally intended to.
Supposedly there are also a whole lot of differences as far as hot dog preferences go in certain regions, ranging from toppings to buns to how the dogs are cooked. The offerings of a hot dog cart in Chicago might disgust the residents of San Antonio, but a Big Mac is a Big Mac wherever you go. Also, I realize that by the time this article goes up, Taco Bells nationwide will probably have released a taco with a shell made of wieners.
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Why Can't Doctors Just Come To Your Place?
In an era when you can have just about whatever you want delivered to your door, from groceries to prostate massagers, it stands to reason that if you need that rash checked out by a medical professional, you shouldn't have to travel to find out that it's really herpes. After all, why wait 45 minutes to get uncomfortably groped at a doctor's office when you can do it in the privacy of your own home? It's not like this is a pipe dream. House calls used to be common. Go watch any old movie wherein a kindly doctor with a little black bag swings by to examine a patient without even making them get out of bed.
Somewhere around 40% of the time doctors saw patients in 1930, it was with a house call. Come 1980, that number dropped down to just 1%. Nonetheless, some say the practice might be making a comeback, but primarily for patients with severe conditions. Good news for the deathly ill: Your so-called loved ones won't be able to pull that "visiting hours are over" shit on you anymore!
As for why this became a fantasy for the rest of us, you can guess the reason: They don't make as much money going house to house. Travel means fewer patients seen, and if they try to charge more to make up for it, the insurance company demands to know why this patient couldn't drive their own ass downtown to sit in a waiting room for an hour with a dozen crying and coughing children.
On the plus side, the market might slowly be coming around. We could at least see more nurses and doctor's assistants offering in-home services soon. There are also services like Teladoc, which let you get an examination via a video call. Then if they need a look at your genitals, you can presumably grab one of the thousands of pics you've already got stored on your phone.
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Where Are All The B Batteries?
Comedian Deon Cole recently brought up something that he claimed people don't know: There aren't any B batteries. Of course, he meant people other than Demetri Martin, who suggested that the reason might be so that it doesn't sound like people are stuttering when they ask for them. Or George Carlin, who also acknowledged the mystery without bothering to solve it. Now that we've established that plenty of people have indeed observed this glaring omission but didn't find it interesting enough to research, let's go ahead and see if the answer is out there.
According to Mental Floss, back in the 1920s, a battery naming system was established that incorporated the ABCs -- or at least four of them. The bigger the battery was, the higher the letter assigned to it, which worked out fine until smaller batteries became more desirable to manufacturers and fucked the whole thing up.
AA and AAA batteries were the perfect size for newer electronics, and C and D batteries remained optimal choices for consumers who preferred that their larger devices not immediately drain the shit out of their batteries. It appears that our old friend the B battery suffered the same fate as many other middle children the world over, except they got ignored by everyone else's family too.
Single-A batteries haven't done too well over the years either, by the way. While they found a place in some older laptop models, searching for them in stores will prove as rewarding as trying to accomplish anything with an old laptop. These A and B batteries also shouldn't be confused with the now-obsolete A, B, and C batteries used in old vacuum tubes, which were inexplicably given the same exact names as existing battery types.
The OG B batteries somehow stubbornly lingered in the U.S. until 2001, when they were officially discontinued. European countries, on the other hand, kept them around for bike lamps and lanterns, things of that nature. But until the hot new accessory of the season becomes, um, lanterns, I doubt that business will be booming any time soon.
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Why Aren't People Eating Turkey Eggs?
You're not likely to find too many supermarkets that don't sell chicken eggs. It's debatable whether you should even be allowed to call a place a "supermarket" if you don't. This is entry-level supermarket shit. And alongside the eggs and most of the corpse of the chicken, you're likely to find bits of its cousin, the turkey, lying around as well. But don't turkeys lay eggs too? How come you never see a carton of those suckers? Are they poisonous or explosive or something?
Well, the reasons for their absence are a bit more logical and way less awesome. For one, turkeys can't lay eggs until they're over seven months old, and seven months is basically a decade in factory farm time. Chickens, in comparison, start at around five months and let 'em rip at a rate of roughly one a day. You can expect to get maybe two eggs out of a turkey a week, and that's if you have the balls to steal them from a creature that looks like it should be chasing after Jeff Goldblum in a lab somewhere.
Yeah, it turns out turkeys can be a little protective of their unborn omelettes. That's in addition to them taking up significantly more space than chickens and needing more food. This all adds up to a single turkey egg costing more than a dozen chicken eggs. Plus, turkey eggs reportedly don't taste much different from those of chickens. So catering to people who are tired of the same old shit by selling them something that tastes like the same old shit but costs way more isn't the smartest business decision.
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Why Not Build Cars That Simply Can't Exceed The Speed Limit?
You'd think that a good way to cut down on speeding tickets and speeding accidents and speeding in general would be to just not make cars that have the ability to break the law. It would put a few traffic cops out of work and the cast of the Fast & Furious series would have to find a new hobby, but it would probably save some lives and a lot of gas if you couldn't get your Hyundai Elantra up to 130 miles an hour, right?
Not necessarily, and it wouldn't exactly be doing the cars themselves any favors either. Let's start with the second one. If you accomplish this by just giving the car a less powerful engine that caps the vehicle's speed at some reasonable amount over the highest highway speed limit, that means the engine is going to spend a lot of its life operating near that max speed. Machines that are constantly operating at the high end of their capacity aren't destined to last long.
OK, so maybe you give it a normal engine, but just use built-in software to automatically stop acceleration at some point. That brings up another problem. Making cars incapable of speeding might actually be dangerous. Studies have shown that cars traveling at a lower speed than surrounding cars are more likely to cause an accident, regardless of the speed limit. In other words, take a car that tops out at 80 miles per hour, throw it in traffic with a bunch of cars that don't have that limitation, and the "safe" car is now fucking with everyone's safety. (And most definitely their patience.)
Not that there haven't been attempts to do this kind of thing. In 1979, the National Highway Safety Administration successfully prevented speedometers from reading above 85 miles per hour. It lasted a whopping two years. The UK wants to make speed limiting technology mandatory in the near future, but it can be overridden and turned off. Another thing to consider is that in the U.S., there are states where you're actually permitted by law to go as high as 15 mph over the speed limit if you're passing another car. So the answer it that you probably won't see ticket-proof cars become common until we get those fully self-driving vehicles they keep promising us.
Tony Alpsen does a webcomic at Yingandyan.com, for whatever reason.
For more, check out 6 Bizarrely Specific Commercial Tropes That Need To Die:
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