Thursday, September 28, 2023


RV Electrical Safety: Road Signs – Dave Barry and my mustard rebellion

by Mike Sokol

I don’t just write for the RV world. I sometimes interact with celebrities (well, sort of…). Here’s what I sent to humor columnist Dave Barry in early January, 2000. Yes, that was 20 years ago. And yes, he answered me back TWICE in two decades. So I’m on a roll – or should that be a “bun”?

December 31, 1999:  Literally hours before Y2K takes out my word processor.

Attention Dave Barry,

As a writer for a number of professional worldwide audio magazines my writing reputation must remain unsullied. This is so my readers will believe what I say and not compare my writing to, say, a Dave Barry column. With that thought in mind I’m enlisting your help to bring something to the attention of the great masses of the unwashed. (Now there’s a picture.) And since your reputation is already so sullied that even when you tell the truth everyone thinks you are lying, you’re the prefect mouthpiece.

It all has to do with mustard… As I was searching through the home fridge the other day for the perfect topping for my hotdog I found what might be called “the mustard section.” There was Dijonnaise, a combination of mayonnaise and mustard, Honey Mustard, a combination of bees and mustard, and Grey Poupon, a combination of poup and mustard. We even had some designer mustard with whole seeds, one with roasted garlic, and some brown stuff of unknown pedigree. The list goes on.

But search as I might through my personal condiment section, I couldn’t find a single container of plain, old, yellow, American mustard. You know, bomb shelter food. The kind that never goes bad. The stuff that Billy Bob Thornton’s dad smeared on his biscuits in the movie Sling Blade. I’ll bet that Karl Childers’ dad never put Dijonnaise on his biscuits. Nope, it was plain old yellow American mustard. Pure and simple.

So here I was with a rapidly cooling hot dog in my hand and the Herald Mail newspaper with a picture of Dave Barry under my arm when the thought came to me. There’s too darn many mustards. I wonder if Dave Barry knows about this? Because if he knows about it, then he cares about my plight. And if he cares about me at least as much as his other reader, then he’ll get on his soapbox and do something about it. Like the time he got Canada kicked out of the League of Nations for the toilet thing. I also have issues with Canada for some other personal reasons, but I can’t get into that right now.

Notice this is the PG version of what I was actually thinking. But since I have three young sons that emulate every expletive that comes out of my mouth, I’ve learned that you can never take back anything once you’ve said it around my house. It will be repeated time and time again for mommy, grandma, the pastor at church, and strangers on the phone. So I can’t even cuss properly about mustard anymore. Which really makes me mad.

So here it is… I’m lodging an official protest against all these designer mustards. If you’re with me, you’ll publish this complaint and see that it gets all the respect that your other columns do. If that happens, then all of the designer mustard makers in the world will be trembling in their Gucci shoes. And finally, plain old Classic Yellow Mustard will return to its rightful place on the shelf. However, if you’re not with me, then I guess you’re just one of those Honey Mustard loving dweebs and may God have mercy on your Dijonnaise soul. Thanks for your concern, and I look forward to having yellow mustard once again. – Mike Sokol

Back in January of 2000 Dave Barry responded on a 23 cent postcard, and here was his rather concise hand written message.

I know what you mean.
Dave Barry

Well, it’s been 18 years since I originally wrote this, and still the designer mustards take the top shelf positions in grocery stores, bars and restaurants. I’m sure that Dave has been working tirelessly on my Yellow Mustard campaign for the last two decades, but it’s a big rock to push uphill. So I remain optimistic that this will soon be sorted out. Thanks for all your efforts, Dave…

Stop the press… This just in… Really….

Dave Barry just responded to my request for an update, and here’s what he emailed me (which is even cheaper than a 23 cent postcard).

Mike —
My views on this have not changed.
Dave Barry

I promise to check with him again in another 20 years, so now we’re picking up speed. Thanks for the update, Dave.

Listen to my son Alan read my letter to Dave Barry in his Alan’s Yak podcast some 14 years ago.

American Mustard Y2K Rant
(c) 2000/2018 Mike Sokol

Let’s play safe out there….



Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

Email me at mike (at) with your questions.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.



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1 year ago

As a hardcore Dave Barry fan, all I can say is use the mustard of your choice, but whatever you do, save those precious missives from Bard of Miami. I believe I have a copy of each of his books, including his one serious novel, all on a shelf behind me as I write this. They share space with a select few of the other great writers of our generation: Dave Larson, Bill Watterson, and, of course Jean Shepherd. So, save those words from Mr. Barry. By the way, good old plain yellow is still my favorite, although I’ll give nod to some brands of honey mustard.

1 year ago

I’m sorry, but I am on the other side. Brown mustard, (Cleveland brown mustard) is a must for bratwurst. I also use a sweet hot mustard on my ham and cheese sandwiches. There are some horseradish mustards that are perfect in the right time and place. That said, yellow mustard is the only option for hot dogs and corn dogs. Dijon and whole seed mustards should only be used in foodie recipes. Great column and great letter to Dave B.!!!

Judy Parker
1 year ago

My DH concurs with your views on mustard. I, on the other hand,… well, we won’t go into the other types that reside in our fridge. None of which are allowed on the same shelf as the king 🙂

3 years ago

If you have a chance you should visit the Mustard museum in Middleton WI. So many varieties of mustard I am sure your brain would short circuit.

It really is a cool place though.

3 years ago

Mike. The poll should have also had a place for those of us who have formal Electronics training.
As a trained biomedical technician, and a certified electronic nut, you need space for me.
However, I will concede that RV power poles are somewhat of a blank area. Some sites that I’ve seen appear to be assembled by the “hey! You.” method. I enjoy every one of your lectures and will attend both at RVillage (shameless plug) and FMCA Tucson (2nd plug). I have learned something every time.

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