Bernstein: Beware This Super Bowl Danger

Avocados can be a delicious menace.

Dan Bernstein
January 29, 2020 - 1:52 pm

(670 The Score) Avocados are a menace. A delicious menace to be sure, but they invite you to mutilate yourself in ways other fruits do not and could be lying in wait to ruin your Super Bowl Sunday by having you watching while in line waiting for stitches or a tetanus shot at your nearest emergency room.

I'm not making this up. The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday published a full accounting of just how widespread the carnage has become, with 27,059 avocado-related knife injuries officially registered since 2013. An Emory University study also noted that "it likely underestimates the true national incidence" of such mishaps because it only counted those that necessitated ER visits. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest days annually for avocado preparation and consumption too, with the Hass Avocado Board expecting 155 million pounds to be consumed in the United States on Sunday, a slight drop from 162 million in 2019.

Charles Daly is an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Emory who co-authored the study, and he explained what's going on. 

"They're soft and then suddenly very hard and kind of slippery," he told the Wall Street Journal. "So it's the perfect setup for stabbing yourself."

I'd imagine the day's well-known level of alcohol use could be a contributing factor as well.

This is clearly a serious subject for some of us, those who have firsthand experience with bleeding all over the kitchen. My mistake turned out to be a classic blunder, attempting to use the point of a small knife to penetrate the pit enough to pry it out of the open half, only to have it slip off and into the lower part of my hand. And that this news story had a specific photo illustration of that technique as a no-no did little to mitigate my feeling of idiocy. Since that occurred, I've imitated the more professional move of slapping the middle of the blade of a large chef's knife longitudinally into the pit, then lifting it out with a quarter turn and pinching it safely into the garbage.

Alas, that illustration was captioned specifically with "Don't try this at home," with sufficient evidence of similar slips and complete whiffs with ugly results. I admit that I will continue employing the technique despite the obvious peril, however, because there's no way I'll be wasting perfectly edible avocado by spooning out the pit like a chump.

Another move that the TV chefs make look easy is the slicing of the pulp while still in the skin before scooping it out, which all too often for the untrained results in the knife poking all the way through and into the hand, especially because there are variations in avocado-skin thickness in each fruit and from one to the next. Doing this seems to serve little actual purpose and is more easily avoided.

The other problem is we can all agree that store-bought guacamole absolutely sucks out loud, with the value over replacement (VORG) for the most basic fresh version relative to even the "best" pre-packaged one being nearly incalculable. It's too damn easy to get it right enough and nearly impossible for it to be bad. Everybody knows what to do.

We just keep stabbing ourselves, apparently.

Be careful out there.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.