Talk to DP Forum

Mr Roach

September 14, 2014

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,
I have recently published a mythical retelling of the invention of the Tater Tot. I know, I know…it's been done a million times, but I am fond of the story and feel the message speaks to a need that many parents have, namely, "Don't be afraid to try." In this case it is targeted to activities involving healthy eating, and not cliff diving or illegal drug use. If you have a trip to the bathroom with no reading material scheduled for your review, I would love your feedback.
Mr Roach
Author of "Timmy Tate's Tater Troubles"

Daniel replies:

Fascinating as your work of literature seems to be, I will decline your kind offer. I do not do feedback.

Jared Erfle

September 7, 2014

My 6-year-old twin sons (Jacob and Lincoln) and I just finished Yo-Yo Man, and we loved it! Your book was a great way to talk about goals, hard work and bullying Thank-you .

Daniel replies:

Not to mention the art of yo-yoing.

Hali Palombo

September 7, 2014

Hi! I'm Hali. I am 22 years old. I am an aspiring comedian (I am aware that that sounds ridiculous), and am going to school for comedy (clowning and comedy writing) at Second City.

When I was 12, I went to a summer camp in Maine. The kids could opt to stay in tipis instead of cabins if they wanted to, and that is what I did. One night, there was a massive storm, so we all had to huddle into a tiny shed for safety. One of the counselors read Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars to us by candlelight. I had never heard anything that had resonated with me more.

I was a social outcast at that age, and was constantly questioning the intelligence and authority of adults. The way Leonard and Alan interacted with their superiors and the world around them thrilled me, and inspired me to keep being strange, to explore unusual life paths, to have adventures, and to question everything around me. I keep a copy of the book on my nightstand, and reread it every couple of months. It never fails to remind me that the world is a strange and wonderful place, and that as long as I am doing what my heart tells me is right, I am doing the right thing.

This isn't really a question, I just wanted to reach out to you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for being partially responsible for my being so strange, and my life being so full of adventure and color.

So thank you, Mr. Pinkwater!

-Hali Palombo

Daniel replies:

When I was roughly your age, I met the manager of Second City. He told me it would be ok if I came in and watched rehearsals, and also gave me permission to come in and watch classic films that were shown for cast and staff only on Sunday mornings. I have no idea why he extended these courtesies--to the best of my recollection I came across as pretty much a worthless idiot at the time. Oh wait, I just got it! He must have recognized that I had potential to be an actor and comedian, worthless idiot being the gold-standard starting point. However, I never took the step of asking to get up on the stage--for reasons I will not go into, lest you become depressed, I had already sworn an oath never to do that--but the experience was an important element in my education. I submit that you are not strange, but quite normal. Everybody's life is full of adventure and color, the only possible difference being that you are aware of it, and many are not.

Kevin Cheek

August 31, 2014

You asked: "What is it about hot dogs?"

It is the fact that you write about them with such longing and such great description of the multi-sensory assault that is the experience of eating a genuine Chicago Dog that causes us to share that longing. I've even started looking for Hawaiian shirts with brightly colored tomatoes, pickles, etc.

Sadly, I'm health conscious and have taken to grilling fat-free spiced chicken sausages (sage, apple, and green chile are good flavorings) and serving them with sliced kosher pickles, fancy mustard, and grilled chiles on a steamed whole-grain bun. It's not the same experience, but I may live longer to enjoy more of them over the long run.

Daniel replies:

I don't think I ate many more than 20 Chicago hot dogs in all the years I lived in Chicago. When the meticulously authentic establishment opened in my current locale, I may have eaten another 10 or fewer, but I struck up a friendship with the proprietor, (who perished, I believe from eating his own product). So when I visited him, I would order a dog sans sausage. The other ingredients qualify as food, excepting maybe that bright green relish. As to longing for them...I don't long. It's a literary device. I approve of your less lethal chicken sausage combination.

Rick Rundle

August 26, 2014

Sim sala bim, Danial love that you resurfaced on NPR. As I have gotten older my sharp mind has dulled a bit. But listening to your essays then going to your website has refreshed me like a babe being baptized. Friends of mine Bob Sirott & Marianne Murciano husband & wife on WGN 720 AM, noon show, not Don McNeal, not Paul Harvey but…. Marianne tries to get Bob to eat healthy, and of course Bob likes Chicago hot dogs. Loved your essay, did you know "Brigadoon" was just at the Goodman? You would be great on their show. "And I'll Never forget the day I read a book'. Thanks

Daniel replies:

What is it about hot dogs? When that piece first aired, I got a ridiculous number of emails and calls, people drove from Maine and Pennsylvania to find the hot dog joint I told about. Or is it something about me when I describe food? If I told what I actually eat, would I be inundated with notes from skinny non-leather-sandal-wearing octogenarians with a wild look in their eyes?

Tom Purpur

August 26, 2014

Daniel, I heard your piece about Chicago hotdogs somewhere there in New Yorkish where you live and thought it was hilarious. I just wanted to thank you for it. Carry on with that good fight you're fighting! :-)

Daniel replies:

See, Chicago winters used to be more severe, and much as Inuit peoples living in arctic conditions could utilize blubber, Chicagoans could eat those hot dogs and yet survive. It's a risk that needs to be minimized. I won't go as far as suggesting the tofu pup...just be mindful.

Tim Lowe

August 26, 2014

I just heard your ode to the Chicago hot dog. The REAL hot dog. The simple thing of beauty that purely defines the city of big shoulders. You think NY is bad? Try South America. I can't get a decent hot dog here in Colombia. The put a lot worse things than ketchup on them, believe you me.

Daniel replies:

I have much to answer for.

George Combs

August 26, 2014

Mr. p.,
I listened this morning to your elegiac hot dog story. I was so moved that I felt compelled to drive an hour to one of the few places in the Washington, DC area that sells that Windy City delicacy. Curse you and bless you sir. If only I could find a place that served a decent ratatouille on a hot dog. The search continues…

Daniel replies:

I repeat the admonition always prompted by reference to my hot dog writings--remember to treat those things with the respect you'd give a loaded gun. Ratatouille, yes, often as you like--hot dogs of any denomination, be careful!

Tracy Salladay

August 24, 2014

Mr. Pinkwater,
I heard your call on car talk earlier this month and would like to have the name of the used car dealer in Danbury where you purchased your car.

Daniel replies:

I don't remember the name! It was the used car department of a then-new Infiniti dealer, and they were extremely nice to me, made a vast number of free repairs on the car before and after delivery. I theorized at the time that as a newly-opened luxury car dealership, they had little to do in the repair department, and wanted to put the mechanics through their paces. I wound up with a swell car in perfect condition, and enjoyed it for a long time.

Len S.

August 17, 2014


Every time I travel to Chicago, I go looking for traces of Baconburg; it's like Narnia to me, but way funkier. Does anywhere in Chicago still have a touch of the Snark? Or has it, as if seen by a Boojum, softly and suddenly vanished away?



Daniel replies:

I haven't been to Chicago for quite a few years, like more than 20--the last time I went, there were plenty of artifacts left--but I can't speak for today. But really, what I wrote about was a state of mind--the one you go forth with. If you allow it, Baconburg, or whatever you hope to find, will find you.