Oughta Be a Law: 10 Crimes Against Food

U.S. Senator from Vermont Patrick Leahy says he's planning to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to mislabel products as containing maple syrup. The maximum penalty: death. That's not true, the death penalty isn't on the table (at least it doesn't appear to be). Still, does maple syrup deserve protection? Sure—it's a regional product with a rich heritage. And, hey, while we're at it, here are 10 more things that should be protected by federal law:

1. BRATWURST

Ever had a phoned-in brat? (I'm looking at you, Hillshire Farm.) A snappy exterior and an interior spiced with conviction are musts. Adjunct law: a $50 fine for a first offense of putting ketchup on your brat. Second offense: a good talking-to.

2. BAGELS

Gotta be denser than Wonder Bread; gotta have an actual skin. There goes 90 percent of the bagels from flyover country, but tough turkey. You can relabel them as floatation devices.

3. CAPPUCCINO

If it's cherry-flavored, it isn't cappuccino. In fact, if it's anything other than coffee-flavored, it's out of the running.

4. CRAFT BEER

Should involve some actual craft at some point; vortex bottle neck and/or team of Clydesdales and/or color-changing cold mountains do not qualify.

5. GOURMET CUPCAKES

If you're going to charge more than $4, it better kill. Some sort of extensive licensing program or electroshock-based system of retraining should be instituted.

6. MARGARITAS

Not blended with ice into a slushie for adults, not choked with artificial sour mix. Rather, made well, from tequila and a bit of citrus liqueur and lime juice.

7. CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

If it makes you sad instead of happy, it is not really a chocolate chip cookie. Bad cookies, the kind served at fast-food joints from shore to shore, must be labeled "Chocolate Shame Cookies."

8. CHERRY PIE

If the filling's been poured from a five-gallon bucket, the pie must be either relabeled as "Artificially Flavored Corn Syrup Pie" or destroyed (at the expense of the seller).

9. CALZONES

Should not be miserably heavy; should be deliciously heavy. I'll leave it up to someone from the East Coast to really nail down the terms on this one.

10. MARTINIS

Gin and vermouth—some actual measure of vermouth, not just waving the bottle at the shaker. (Vodka is an acceptable substitute, but only just barely.) Nothing else can be called a martini, or include the suffix "-tini." Chocolate syrup–laced "Chocotini"? That's not a martini—that's five years of medium-security prison in Idaho.

Image source: Chocolatini by Flickr member quinn.anya under Creative Commons