Tim Istock: Columna Mundialmente Famosa — World Famous Column

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 26, 2023

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By Tim Istock

For the Clemmons Courier

So I was motoring westward along I-40 recently when I saw the following billboard ad: Billy Bob’s World Famous Footlong Hot Dogs

Hmm . . you don’t say. Not just Iredell County famous, or North Carolina famous, but world famous? Now that, my friend, if indeed true, is one hot diggity dog.

But it also got me to wondering.

Just what are the conditions that have to be met in order for something to be designated as world famous?

I mean, in this internet age of instant global information sharing, I would expect that most folks, regardless of whether they bed down in a 5th avenue penthouse suite or call a mud hut on the Serengeti Plain their home sweet home, have probably acquired at least a passing familiarity with some of the more iconic places and personalities in this great big world of ours, things like the Egyptian Pyramids, the Statue of Liberty and Taylor Swift, to name but a few.

But footlongs from Statesville?

Now before I get too far down the track on this runaway hype train, maybe I should ease up a bit on the throttle and dig a little deeper into this whole “world famous” thing, beginning with a working definition of the term from the dictionary. A quick Google search provided the following interpretation:

Someone or something that is world-famous is known about by people all over the world

All over the world, huh? Cool.

Okay, so given that there are currently 195 countries in the world – and I’m including Ukraine for the moment – does that mean that if I happened to be hobnobbing around in Mozambique or Uzbekistan or any other country in this big, vast world of ours and I paused to ask one of the locals if they had ever had occasion to sample a Billy Bob’s footlong, they would unequivocally answer:

“Ya mon, with chili and onions mon. Das good.”

Now that would indeed be pretty impressive, yes?

But now what if that same question was posed to Helga in Helsinki and the answer it produced was:

“Na, I am not familiar with . . how do you say it . . Bille’ Bob’s feet?”

In that case, would the negative response void Billy Bob’s claim?

In other words, how many countries would have to have at least one of their citizens know about Billy Bob’s footlongs in order for this local eatery to legitimately stake a claim for “world famous” status?  Half of them? A quarter? Maybe just one besides the good ol’ US of A?

And riddle me this, Batman. Is it necessary that a foreign citizen has personally partaken of the “world famous” footlong in question, or, would it be enough that Dimitri, born and raised in Yadkinville and currently on a pilgrimage to his ancestral homeland in Siberia, has sampled the magnificent dog in question and recounted details of that scrumptious experience to his relatives, who now, by way of the second hand account, now possess intimate knowledge of the hallowed weenie?

Lastly, is there an international governing body responsible for establishing, verifying, and enforcing the rules and bylaws pertaining to “world famous” status, and as such, conferring certificates of authenticity to those entities meeting the specified qualifications for inclusion into the “world famous” club?

If the answer to the above question is no and folks are simply left to operate on the honor system when making claims of world wide fame, then maybe it’s high time you and I got into the act and began tooting our own horn a little bit more. Hey, you never know, that trip you made to Cancun last spring where you had one too many margaritas and ended up giving an impromptu poolside performance of Elvis’ greatest hits while dressed in a grass sequined tutu could still have the locals talking about you to this day, possibly making you “world famous.”

Hmm . . then again, maybe we need to be careful not to confuse the word famous with infamous.