Dd you know?

Golf ball pieces found in frozen hash browns — Harris Teeter takes a one-stroke penalty

By Paul Viau | May 03, 2017
Photo by: File TAMPERING WITH THE 'TATERS — Never mix hash brown potatoes with golf balls, bags, gloves, tees or ball markers.

I have to confess — I love hash brown potatoes. So much so, that back in the day, whenever the Viau family went through the drive-through at McDonald's for breakfast, I would take a big bite out of each of the hash brown patties, putting them back in the cardboard sleeves upside down (and 20 percent smaller) before I passed them back to my hungry boys.

Of course, after the first time I pranked them in this manner, they were on to me, but it became a family joke — repeated all through their growing-up years.

I always laughed; they always jeered, “Daaaaaad!”

Sunday morning, I made hash brown potatoes for my wife — from scratch — grating potatoes by hand, soaking them in a salt-water bath and grilling them to perfection on a cast-iron skillet in two, circular forms. They were great, and I resisted taking a bite out of Carol’s patty when I plated our breakfasts.

As we sat down at the table, Carol asked if there were any golf balls in the hash browns. I replied, “Not that I know of — that would be a one stroke penalty”

We both had a good laugh, recalling the WLOS-TV news story about a recall of Harris-Teeter brand frozen hash brown potatoes because they contained chunks of golf balls.

I work seasonally at Maggie Valley Club, and I know that golf balls find their way ‘errantly’ in all sorts of places. For example, last fall Carol and I had the privilege of hiking a portion of the Cataloochee Divide Trail with The Swag's innkeeper, Deener Mathews.

Just a few yards off the trail, I found a golf ball. It was old, scarred and muddy — and not a Titleist — so I didn’t keep it, but I put in my pack so I could dispose of it later.

At the time, I didn’t give a thought to anyone accidentally eating it, but I know that there are golf balls MIA almost everywhere. I know that for a fact, because I am a golfer. And I work at a golf course where almost every golfer goes out with a dozen or more balls, and comes back with half or less.

Don’t get me wrong — we don’t count the number of balls that go out and come back after a round of golf. And gratefully, MVC isn’t adjacent to a potato farm. If it were, we probably still wouldn’t count the number of missing golf balls — until now.

Yes, this golf-ball-in-the-food moment is ‘frozen’ in time, as in ‘frozen’ hash browns.

I don’t want to go into a Waffle House and order hash browns — chopped, chunked, cheddared, smothered and covered — and have the waitress jokingly ask me if I also wanted them Top Flite, Pinnacle, Callaway, Titleist or Bridgestoned. That might give me a gallstone.

But in all seriousness, the pieces of golf balls were found in Harris-Tweeter brand ‘Southern Style Hash Browns’ distributed in nine southern states — including North and South Carolina. According to the recall:

“Consumption of these products may pose a choking hazard or other physical injury to the mouth.”

I would like to add to this — in my experience you should never use a golf tee or divot tool to remove golf ball pieces (or any other choking hazard) from your mouth.

If you do find yourself choking (regardless what golf-related item is lodged in your throat) yell ‘Fore’ at the top of your lungs.

Better yet, yell, “Heimlich.”

Did you know? — This column is tongue and cheek. Harris-Tweeter is a fine store.

Now, go back to eating your breakfast.