Tallahassee, FL - Despite the pressures caused by hurricane Charlie, Florida's Governor Jeb Bush was forced to address a topic of national concern - the exact nature and origin of corned beef hash. Although the state has a limited cattle population, Florida is the source of most of America's corned beef hash. This discrepancy has prompted consumers and regulators to seek answers from the governor.
In a wind-whipped press conference on the span of the closed Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Governor Bush shocked the world with the disclosure that "sheet scrapings" are the main ingredient of the breakfast staple. "You see," he explained, "here in the Sunshine State we have a lot of folks that are confined to their beds. A couple of times a month, their sheets are changed and scraped and the scrapings are used to make corned beef hash.
"Here in Florida, we see this as a great example of enterprise and ingenuity. As the saying goes, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade," he concluded. The assembled media were visibly disgusted by the Governor's admission. CNN's Anderson Cooper was seen vomiting during the Governor's remarks. A colleague explained the Mr. Cooper had had corned beef hash for breakfast.
Dr. Lester M. Crawford, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration likewise reacted with disgust when apprised of the news. "While I applaud Florida's apparent initiative in finding new uses for human detritus, I am concerned by their using this material as an ingredient in a food product," said Crawford, "this material must certainly contain elements that are simply not fit for human consumption, but until we are able to conduct a full analysis, this is simply conjecture."
Joel W. Johnson, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Hormel, disputed both the Governor's claims and the concerns voiced by the FDA commissioner. "Our Mary Kitchen Hash is a fine, upstanding product," said Johnson, "My family and I eat corned beef hash once a week and I can assure you that what we are hearing today is pure poppycock. While I cannot disclose all of the ingredients, I can say that sheet scrapings' are a small fraction at best."
A Hormel employee, who asked that her name not be used, challenged Mr. Johnson's claims. "I know what the company line," said the whistleblower, "but I also know what I've seen - and what I've been asked to do. These sheet scrapings are a reality and they are disgusting."
As the winds built in Tampa, Governor Bush struggled to be heard over the din of the storm. Shoveling a forkful of cold corned beef hash into his mouth, the Governor seemed to say, "If this is old skin, gimme more cause I love this stuff."