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The worst thing that can happen to an order of French fries is to be mistaken for onion rings. Fries and onions don’t get along. If you live in a state that serves onion fries, you’re actually eating antimatter, because the fries and onions cancel each other out. A man ate onion fries at a burger stand in Plano, Texas every day for a year and his stomach disappeared into an alternate universe.

So why does anybody ever mistake fries for onion rings? They’re both common side items at burger places, but the similarities end there. It’s because fast food places serve a lot of old men without teeth, and they mess up their orders because of the teeth thing. Think about it. If you’re a 16 year old kid, and some old guy comes up to you shouting “LOMS BLEMPH PHYS BLEEZE” you’re going to hand him whatever food is next to you just to put some distance between you. (And as long as we’re handing out blame, the old men should also realize than teenagers don’t know nothing anyway, and they should refer to food items not by name, but by the super value combo to which they belong.) So fries become rings. There’s a study I read once that said no one had ever ordered onion rings on purpose, but it was dipped in chocolate sauce and I don’t read research that has toppings. Strict rule.

Now we could go back and forth for the rest of the week about which group is more to blame for the fry/ring issue (it’s currently about 63% the teenagers’ fault) but the real issue is: why haven’t we put an end to teeth rationing yet? If we didn’t have strict limits on teeth then the old guys would be able to get more and then they’d get their fries when they wanted ’em and there’d be less spittle all over too. Salad bars could go back to their natural state instead of having those plastic guards overhead. And dentists would never again have to say, “If only we weren’t bumping up against your tooth ration…”

It didn’t used to be this way. Before the war, there were teeth all over the place. That’s why when old-timey “sporting gentlemen” engaging in fisticuffs never had to worry about losing a tooth, even without mouth guards, because they could always get more at the store. The other reason is that back then, fisticuffs didn’t actually mean you hit the other guy – it was really a mustache contest. You’d stand there with your arms outstretched so your mustache would twirl better, which was what the judges were looking for. In 1874 “Beer Barrel” Thompson defeated “Yankee” Grimm in a split decision to become the fisticuffs champion of Keokuk, Iowa. Grimm, whose mustache was a full fourteen inches longer than Thompson’s (and was waxed so well that two men were blinded by the mustache’s reflection of the gas lights in the bar), was furious, and, according to telegraph reports, “did Fell the great Thompson with a strike to his Abdomen that provided the greatest of merriment to his supporters, but did arouse great cries of ‘Most foul!’ and ‘What an ill-tempered fop!’ among others.” The newspaper ended up getting the whole story wrong and soon the nation assumed that “fisticuffs” actually meant a bare-knuckle boxing match.

All that changed in the war, when the British declared war on the Nazis without checking their supply of teeth first. Big mistake. The Nazis first target in London? The dental clinic! The government, who had expected an attack on the National Mustache Parlor, were taken by surprise and had to institute tight rations on teeth for the rest of the war. This didn’t impact the war effort in any way except that the citizens, who had resolved to keep a “stiff upper molar” throughout difficult times, had to settle for keeping a “stiff upper lip” during the bombing raids. There was a small black market on teeth in London’s poorer neighborhoods, but Sir Chumley Wumley-Oxfordshire of the 1700’s appeared to the neighborhood leaders in a dream, telling them to “stop with all this rot about bicuspids and win the bloody war.” The Normandy invasion began the very next day.

After the war ended, the British decided they couldn’t risk being taken by surprise again, so they kept the teeth rationing in place and they burned down the National Mustache Parlor. But in doing so, they’ve kept a limit on the world’s tooth supply for decades, and it’s time to say enough is enough. I say, let’s try it for a week at no charge, and if the old men without French fries are happy with it, they can pay three easy installments of $39.99, plus shipping and handling. It beats getting onion rings from teenagers.

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