Tasty Dog Challenge is crossing a line

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The sign outside Tasty Dog said simply, "Fundraiser Today" [Tasty Dog repeat for Whittier, Inside Report, April 13]. What it did not say was that District 97 was advertising a contest between the following elementary schools: Hatch, Longfellow, Mann, Whittier, Irving and Beye.

The contest involved the above schools' teachers and principals targeting their student population and encouraging them to get their parents to take them to Tasty Dog on a designated night. Tasty Dog then gave 15 percent of its profits that night back to the school. There are additional prizes as well.

On one teacher's site: "Don't cook dinner on this Thursday, April 7! Instead go to Tasty Dog for Longfellow's Tasty Dog Challenge Day! Let's Go Longfellow!" A similar message was heard by one of us over the loudspeaker and given by a principal to the children in class. We are writing to ask you to stop our schools from advertising for Tasty Dog.

While we have no qualms with Tasty Dog's promotion, or in Tasty Dog giving money to the school, we strongly object to the school and its employees promoting a commercial enterprise to our children in the classroom and using school resources to promote it to their parents. It is, in effect, bartering access to our children for marketing by the people our children look up to — their teachers and principal.

We have come to learn that this promotion was initiated by a devoted and creative PTO parent and are sure that she had absolutely no intent for anything but good. And some of it is good — the PTOs will receive some money and people who went had fun seeing their friends. However, the result of the promotion remains the same — we are advertising. The importance of the school's involvement is clear when one notes that Holmes will not be receiving money from the promotion. It is the one school that declined to "participate."

We wonder, where will the district draw the line? Will all the businesses in Oak Park have this valuable access by such valuable messengers?

We love a good hot dog as much as the next Oak Parker and are grateful to businesses that want to support our schools. But let them advertise their promotion on their own — like everyone else.

Donna Peel, Maraya Steadman, Erin Elmiger, Suzanne Ritzler, Cris Rivas, Sheila and Eddie Pont, Sarah and Allen Arnett
Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Posted: May 6th, 2011 5:19 PM

Okay, so a local business is helping with some fundraising at the public schools in Oak Park. No one said that you have to participate so if you don't want your kids to eat fast food, then stay home.


Posted: May 1st, 2011 8:49 AM

I agree with this letter. And I find it hard to believe "We" doesn't see the difference between promoting books at school vs promoting fast food at school. Books are the last things we want our children to be exposed to during school!

Mike Ryan  

Posted: April 28th, 2011 4:57 PM

One word: Sheesh! Channel that energy into something worthwhile.


Posted: April 28th, 2011 4:29 PM

If you want to complain about the food at Tasty Dog and kids, then go take a look at the District's lunch menu. Several items are similar, if not the same as one can buy at Tasty Dog. OMG! they both offer Cheeseburgers, the difference is, Tasty Dog doesn't say it's on a bun. There aren't hot dogs in April and May, but in previous years there were hot dogs the school menu. I pick and chose which days my son has hot lunch. I also can decide what to find him at home.


Posted: April 28th, 2011 4:25 PM

Schools participates in the Scholastic book fairs, that directly targets kids. They see a video before the fair begins. They get to preview the fair after it opens, all so they can go home and bug Mommy and Daddy to buy them books. Sure, you might say, "it's books, that's a good thing." But for the parent who can't afford it, it's probably a royal pain in the you-know-what. Should we cancel Book Fairs? I say no.

Taxpayer from Oak Park  

Posted: April 28th, 2011 3:41 PM

Since taxpayers have already relieved TD of its tax-paying responsibility, how about we move TD inside OPRF high school and close the campus. Win-win-win.


Posted: April 28th, 2011 2:46 PM

The last time I went to Tasty Dog, I avoided the bacon double cheeseburger and had soup and a salad. Not that one cheeseburger every month or two will put me in my grave. Maybe parents should be teaching how to make good choices in a given environment.


Posted: April 28th, 2011 2:26 PM

Those of you who oppose the Tasty Dog fundraiser, what kind of shop and share would you support? Do you not support restaurant-based shop and shares? If no, what if any local company would you support partnering with? (Keeping in mind affordability) If so, what restaurant? I am genuinely curious, and trying to find ideas for school-based fundraisers that don't involve a lot of parent labor, considering the stress so many of us are under.


Posted: April 28th, 2011 2:22 PM

I'm with you, Done.

Rebecca Hachem  

Posted: April 28th, 2011 12:56 PM

I support this letter. This issue is not about fast food. Where and when will the marketing to our children, a captive audience, during school hours end? My children's school did not participate this year, thank goodness.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: April 28th, 2011 9:45 AM

You people are kidding, right?


Posted: April 27th, 2011 7:45 PM

Donna, you wrote: "There are too many conflicts here for any elementary school child to be able to discriminate except based upon the opinions of the authority figures who present it to them." I am wondering if (a) your kids are more subservient to authority figures than mine and/or (b) very early elementary school-aged. Because, seriously? My kids are able to do some critical thinking, and they aren't exactly gifted. Also: don't want your kids to eat fast food? Don't take them to tasty dog.K?

Parent from OakPark  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 7:39 PM

Not every school marketed this to the students, in fact, my childs' school only sent the information to the parents in a single email. I agree that announcing it on the school loudspeaker or having teachers talk about it to the students is not a good idea. Some schools take the competition very seriously though, and really want to get a lot of money from this fundraiser. There are some healthier options at Tasty Dog than the hot dogs too. Do these parents never feed their kids fast food?!


Posted: April 27th, 2011 7:36 PM

@district 97 parent: Hamburger is made from beef? STOP THE PRESSES.

Tim R.  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 7:05 PM

And wasn't this event started because of a woman wanted to save Tasty Dog from closing due to their past taxes? I swear I read that in this rag..err paper.

Tim R.  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 7:03 PM

Obviously the supporters of this fundraiser don't care about the health of their children and only care about telling people who don't support this event that they are wrong. And by the way OP, taxpayers funded Tasty Dog and still does since they didn't pay any taxes.

A district 97 parent  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 6:44 PM

Hot dogs are nasty -- your kids are eating pig snouts, ears, tails et al. A close friend worked at Wilson meatpacking in Monmouth, IL. and Okla. City to earn money for college. Barbaric practices and workplace. Hamburger is made from beef > mad cow disease anyone? French fries and ketchup don't count as veges. My kid refuses to eat at Tasty Dog. At times I wish he would for my convenience.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 6:28 PM

Again, I think that the opponents to this fundraiser need to get some perspective. Donna, step back and look at your complaint that the principal and teachers are "condoning and encouraging this kind of food." Do you see how ridiculous you sound? It isn't pot or porn or violence. It's just one evening at a hot dog stand.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 5:19 PM

Also, Tasty Dog is a local, tax-paying business that helps support the schools. I don't see a problem thanking them by giving them business.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 5:17 PM

@Donna, I don't know how they handled it at your school, but no one at my kid's school told them about it. There were posters, but they have those for Market Day and all other manner of stuff. My kid only knew about it because her friend told her. As for "healthy lifestyle," moderation in everything. For me, that doesn't = demonizing certain categories of foods.

Nan E. State from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 5:11 PM

Boy, using kids to raise money & contribute to the evil profits of a local business. Horrifying! Next thing you know they'll be using kids as pawns to get a referendum passed! Oh, wait...


Posted: April 27th, 2011 4:24 PM

There are too many conflicts here for any elementary school child to be able to discriminate except based upon the opinions of the authority figures who present it to them.

Donna from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 4:22 PM

No-one is saying that one hot dog will kill you. However having a school principal and teachers, condoning and encouraging this kind of food, directly conflicts with the message of a healthy lifestyle that the schools are supposed to be promoting. The other fundraisers are of so little interest to the kids that I think they take no notice of them. The info comes home in their backpacks, and no one authority figure at school is encouraging the purchase of the same.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 4:03 PM

ROFL!!! I love the comments that assume that one evening at Tasty Dog means that we're all terrible parents who forcefeed our children tainted, fat-laden junk food. Yep, that's me!! You can see me any day of the week rolling my kids to school, it's so much easier that way than walking them. Pttttthhhbbbb at Brendan and Mario. Get a sense of perspective already.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 3:40 PM

I just hope all the parents supporting this fundraiser will be around to support their kids when the doctor tells them that their teenager has diabetes.

JerryS from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 3:39 PM

Here's what I would love: this energy spent right here to be re-focused on brainstorming ideas for fundraising or actually raising much needed funds. It's easy to criticize, but better to build. I'll go first, what about a walkathon or giant yard sale? What ideas do you have?

Mario Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 3:38 PM

Hot Dogs have been tainted with Botulism and Salmonella resulting in death. They also account for 17% of food related asphyxiations. Not so Tasty.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 3:36 PM

Regarding D97 weighing in on this issue... The PTOs support the schools but aren't run by the schools. D97 may not weigh in because they don't control the PTO fundraisers. D97 does have say in what is donated to schools by PTOs, though, if it conflicts with district programs or policies. Tech is one example. Letting PTOs buy anything they want for their own school could cause major support issues for the district.

D97 Parent  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 3:26 PM

@TanyaC - we don't have those particular fundraisers, but are teachers and principals promoting them directly to students at school? I think you're missing the point. Parents decide to participate or not, so why should businesses advertise to our children at school?

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 2:58 PM

@TanyaC - I remember selling Beich candy bars as a K-12 student, and a ton of other branded merch. It isn't unusual, and it isn't crossing a line. For whatever reason, it's just Tasty Dog that has people's knickers in a bunch. Frankly, who cares what they think? They're obviously not going to participate in the challenge, and aren't likely to contribute to fundraisers regardless of how, when, or why they are held.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 2:51 PM

Here's an oldie but goodie, Gift wrap. That program goes directly after kids, "sell 300 items and you'll get a giftcard to Toys-r-Us". Not one of those prizes is aimed at parents. BoxTops has sheets for kids to paste to.

D97 Parent  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 11:53 AM

Exactly - businesses should not be able to advertise directly to students at school! Where should we stop? How about at teachers chanting "Tasty Dog" in the classroom and principals allowing businesses to advertise over the PA system? That seems easy enough. PTO fundraisers & shop-&-shares target parents (not students) because parents have the funds. What elementary student has the money & logistical capability to support the TD fundraiser? In-school promotion isn't needed for parents.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 11:41 AM

Donna, Maraya, Erin, Suzanna, Cris, Sheila, Eddie, Sarah and Allen: What do you propose the schools do for fundraising then? I did not see you offer up an alternative and am interested in hearing what fundraising activity you would do in place of this. Most restaurants that provide this type of fundraising offer 10% - Tasty Dog is being very generous in offering 15%. With any fundraising event, advertising and promotion are mandatory in order to have people attend and donate hard earned $$.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 11:11 AM

Jon, as a supporter of this event and the winning school, I still agree with some of your points. D97 has not weighed in on this.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 11:05 AM

I so wish the comments' section had a "like" button! It's our responsibility as parents to be sure our kids eat healthy at home so they can enjoy junk food sometimes - heck, I'd love a hot dog right now! And our business community has had some wonderful events and partnerships with our schools-it's a good thing all around. As a parent, a consumer and a friend of many business owners, I've never felt like any advertising has been shoved at me or my child.

Jon Donohue  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 10:54 AM

It is sad to see that D97 is okay with encouraging students to eat junk food. Advertising has become a fact of life in our schools and everything is for sale. However, when the product or service being advertised contributes to an epidemic, then we need to re-evaluate our priorities. It is doubtful that the people who support this promotion would show the same support if McDonald's was running this promotion. Childhood obesity is on the rise and Tasty Dog does nothing to stem the epidemic.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 10:43 AM

I am astonished but not surprised to hear that, Ms. Yipp. Personally, I would love it if you could try again! We need some good assemblies...I remember when there was a "Say No To Drugs" assembly featuring Ronald McDonald. I am not making this up. Though I did hear about this through my kindergartener, so take that with a grain of salt.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 10:16 AM

Whatever. What a tempest in a teapot. Looking forward to next year's Tasty Dog challenge, when Whittier will again rule :-)

Iris Yipp from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 9:37 AM

Several years back The Magic Tree Bookstore brought three literary giants to Percy Julian to talk about their writing. Someone complained that the schools were advertising a business by advertising the event. Scholastic advertising every month was ok because they were "grandfathered in." Blanket policies don't work--we need to look rationally at these "advertising" events. Personally, I'd rather support local businesses than chain stores but our schools need financing so...


Posted: April 27th, 2011 6:42 AM

That Wednesday Journal ad contest, where the kids make advertisements for the newspaper? Must make you guys apoplectic.


Posted: April 27th, 2011 6:39 AM

Well, you know the school has a longstanding shop and share thing with Dominicks, which sells Cheetos and BOOZE. Terrifying. Get real, people. it's just a freaking hot dog.

Where should we stop?  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 1:30 AM

To answer one question, if all Oak Park business get this opportunity, YES. For the last 2 years, PTOs have had a shop-n-share with local business. You should have seen it this past December. Other local business approach PTOs also, some restaurants, some not. Companies that only are in the business of fundraising, (there are a lot) are in it to make money, whether that's Market Day, Mad Science, Current or Tasty Dog.

Where should we stop?  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 1:19 AM

Here's a few other brands PTOs' fundraisers "advertise" Dominos, Dominick's, Amazon, Avery, Ziploc, General Mills, Campbell's Soup, Jewels, Trader Joe.Should we cancel all fundraiser, partnerships with these companies too? If the PTOs did they would lose thousands of dollars from their budgets. They would have to eliminate events our children love.Companies don't offer fundraisers out of the goodness of their hearts.They do it as a way to ADVERTISE their products, to make money.

are you serious clark?  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 12:36 AM

OK, is this letter a joke? Just goes to show that someone will always find something bad to say about something that is well intentioned. Seriously, this letter can't be real, c'mon, Wed Journal, this is some sort of bad prank or set up, right? Well, that's Oak Park for you.

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