My sister grew up in the United States, where most kids are introduced to arts and crafts at a very young age. As many know, there are two ways to fold a piece of paper: hamburger (narrow edge to narrow edge) or hotdog (wide edge to wide edge).
Allegra: “I was introduced to the folding pattern ‘hot dog versus hamburger style’ in first grade. We were fashioning tri-corner hats out of newspaper. The first step was to fold the newspaper down along a crease to maintain its width, rather than its length. This was referred to as “hamburger style.” If the first step had instead been to fold the newspaper vertically, longer than it was wide, the instruction would have been ‘hot dog style.'”
Me: Did you notice that other teachers referred to hamburger and hotdog folding in class?
Allegra: Oh totally. It was a commonly used instruction in art rooms and day care centers that I went to throughout my childhood. A teacher would say, ‘To make a paper fan, fold the materials hot dog style.’ or ‘To begin your fortune teller, fold the paper hamburger style.’
Analysis: If I could hazard a guess, I think the metaphor works because these sandwich fixings come out of the package with a natural crease. Buns fold along a perforation for easier separation. A hot dog bun opens but does not disintegrate, much like how many paper projects require the traces of former folds to last, so that they may be used later. Two American culinary staples, same dough, two different ways to enjoy them. Hot dogs and hamburgers are also quintessential components to the American child’s diet. Notoriously fussy eaters, the one or two lunch room items every kid likes are hot dogs and hamburgers. Its an easily relatable illustration for a strange new technique, like origami.
My informant, JP, is creating voodoo dolls for children. Literally sewing dolls. She calls them Voodles, a combination of voodoo and dolls. When she told me she was making voodoo dolls for children I was surprised. I explained that I thought voodoo dolls were scary–a part of what my dad calls dark magic. But my informant explained that voodoo is totally misconstructed by modern day society. She understands them to be these protective spirits with positive attributes, not negative ones.
She plans to create a number of Voodles. For example, there will be a doctor Voodle for a sick child. “Another Voodle has a pocket and if you put a penny in its pocket and make a wish, the Voodle is supposed to help it come true. And each Voodle will come with a legend or story.”
JP’s desire to make a Voodles for children suggests she has a strong belief in voodoo dolls. It also reveals that she believes so many people believe in voodoo that there is a commercial market for voodoo dolls geared toward children.
While she was at school, my informant partook in a Valentine’s Day activity wherein each child in the class makes Valentine’s cards for everyone, and then makes a box and decorates the box. Children then go around and put their cards in everyone else’s box. She said that she was not very good at arts and crafts as a young child and so she thought her box was terrible and plain compared to everyone else’s. According to my informant, the other children’s boxes had dancers and straws and ballerinas and other fancy figures on the side of the box, and she felt very embarrassed about the state of her box. Later in life, she said she realized that the other children had fancy boxes because their parent’s helped to make them.
When I was in elementary school, we too participated in the ritual of exchanging Valentine’s day cards. We made our own box, but we usually just went out and bought a set of Valentine’s day cards at the store, which came in packs of 16 or 20. Also it was tradition to tape a small portion of candy onto your Valentine’s cards. Cards were given to every student regardless of the gender of the giver or the recipient. For us, Valentine’s day was less about the making of boxes and more about getting free candy.