Brad Messer Commentary
Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Weenie Roast Deaths

Here's what the email says: "my veterinarian told me a story about a family cooking hot dogs over a fire while camping. Supposedly, the family unwittingly speared the dogs with branches from an oleander to cook them over the fire. All of the family members succumbed to oleander poisoning, which affects the heart."

There you go. Put weenies on an oleander stick, roast 'em, eat 'em and croak.

Could this be possible?

Are you expecting me to say the Weenie Roast Death story is merely an urban myth? The answer is yes, and no. Yes, the story has been circulated for at least two decades. Sometimes the oleander-killed people are a troop of weenie-roasting Boy Scouts. Versions of the story go around, and almost always aren't traceable to real events. Researchers can't find one news report of anyone dying from using oleander branches to roast hot dogs.

On the other hand, the deadliness of an oleander is not an urban myth. Leaves of the big, flowering bush have killed people. Oleander is very dangerous.

The Weenie Roast Deaths themselves may be fiction. Death by oleander is not fiction.

Brad Messer commentary, KTSA.
Fatal Weenie Roast

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