the psychology behind the office candy dish

The Washington Post has a pretty fascinating piece about the psychology behind the office candy dish, centered around their own two-month experiment tracking one candy dish in their office.

An amusing excerpt:

The most fascinating part was watching how people behaved around the jar, which sits on a cabinet less than three feet from Kevin’s head.

First of all, nearly everyone who approached the candy while Kevin was present emitted some sort of noise before opening the jar, even if it was just a primal “oooooh!” or “mmmm.” Some politely asked if they could have a piece. Others explained why they shouldn’t have a piece before diving in. A photographer started singing “The Candy Man.”

That’s not surprising at all, said neuroscientist Gary Wenk, author of “Your Brain on Food.”

Wenk called it “the Kevin stimulus.” Basically, Kevin’s presence injected social complications into the food decisions. People had to decide whether the candy was worth the interaction.

“You have to be willing to break into someone else’s personal space and take one of their items that they are offering to you,” Wenk said. “You have to say, ‘Okay, I’m worth it, and I’m going to come over there and talk to you.’ ”

… Interpersonal risk calculations help explain why most people do not want to take the last piece — or, more accurately, do not want to be seen taking the last piece. (Not once in our experiment did the last piece disappear while Kevin was sitting by the jar.) Only the most uninhibited would be willing to risk appearing so nakedly entitled.

It also points out that hardly anyone is willing to take the peanut M&Ms from the Post’s top editor’s candy jar:

Most of the M&Ms are consumed by just four top editors during meetings in Baron’s office. For the rest of us worker bees, the barriers — Baron’s status, Barnes’s watchful eyes, the jar’s location in an office and even the complicated lid — make the risks outweigh the potential reward.

The whole piece is an enjoyable read and will make you look at the candy dynamics in your office differently.

{ 409 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Emi.

    Candy dishes with lids are so stressful! If it’s a full-on jar with a screw lid, almost no candy is worth the horror of standing there, unscrewing the lid and then replacing it in front of someone else. Especially because once you have the candy in your hand, it’s harder to screw the lid back on, but if you put it in your pocket that looks like you’re taking it home, which is unsporting.

    Reply
    1. Anony-shark

      At my last job, the candy jar was shaped like a shark. The lid was flip-open at the jaw (so “teeth” on either side).

      All of which would not have stopped people from taking candy. However, the part where it played the “da-dunh, da-dunh” sound of approaching doom, thus announcing to everyone in the vicinity that you were raiding it?

      I love candy, but I did not often take it from there. Other people developed the habit of flipping it open just enough to set it off, every time they went by it.

      Reply
      1. Turtle Candle

        Omg, I totally want one of those. (But not for the office. Anything that makes automatic noises in the office drives me batty, because I inevitably end up the one sitting behind it and hearing it go off all day.)

        Reply
      2. Mirax

        My stepdad used one of those Halloween candy bowls with the mechanical hand that grabbed back at you, year round! It also talked, and his whole office loved it so much that other people would replace the batteries for him.

        Reply
    2. JBurr

      Our former receptionist left an M&M dispenser for the office that’s an absolute horror if you want a discreet chocolate fix. It’s a big blue M&M on a motorcycle with a side car, and you have to push his foot down on the pedal to get the candy to slide out into the sidecar where you can get it. It’s noisy and conspicuous and doesn’t work half the time so you have to tilt him on his side to get the M&Ms out which sometimes causes an avalanche that makes you look greedy. Bless the new receptionist who finally stopped refilling the dang thing.

      Reply
    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I loved this article so much when it came out last week!

      I once stress-ate the lion’s share of “good chocolate” from a neighboring office over the course of four days (same organization, but distinct wing with a separate boss, separate door, etc. and that office’s boss was the one providing the candy). When I realized what I had done I was horrified, and I bought a bunch of the same candy and replenished their supply early one morning before they came in. Two days later, my friends in that office were griping about how much they hated the “good chocolate” (it was not good to them—apparently it was their least favorite) and how it was seemingly never-ending, no matter how much they gave away. I had to fess up and tell them that I’d replenished it, which they found hilarious because they had been trying to foist it off on other people for days in an effort to run through their supply.

      Reply
      1. seejay

        I stress-ate an entire bag of truffle chocolates off the secretary’s desk at one of my jobs and felt horrible for a week. She’d left it there for everyone but I think most people were just casually picking at it while I was going by every half hour and sneaking two or three out of it at a time. I realized at the end of the day I’d eaten 3/4 of the bag.

        I wound up buying her another bag and leaving it on her desk as a surprise present and not telling her, although I think she knew it was me. I just wasn’t going to admit I ate nearly the entire bag because I was so wigged out over something else. XD

        Reply
    4. Turtle Candle

      Also, mason jars can be like booby traps. I assume because it’s a little tricky to screw the lid back on when you have a handful of candy, a lot of the time people just set the lid back on but don’t screw it on… and one time when I was going for some candy I grabbed the lid firmly assuming it was screwed on and needed to be unscrewed… and it wasn’t, and the whole jar dropped and spilled candy everywhere. Whoops.

      Reply
      1. Code Monkey, the SQL

        This is giving me flashbacks to trying to open a candy jar that must have been a repurposed Yankee Candle or something. It was one of those glass jars with a thick rubber stopper that you had to pry out. No discreet Skittles there. And even worse when it was Skittles or some other loose candy, because it sounded like a giant rainstick if you opened it the least bit inelegantly and threw candy everywhere.

        Reply
  2. Feathers McGraw

    I loved this piece and am going to share it with our own resident Kevin tomorrow. He’s so dedicated to keeping our cookie jar stocked (we’re British, think tea and biscuits) that he got a special staff award for it last Christmas. He’s also one of the longest-serving employees here.

    Reply
    1. MoinMoin

      I work with offices in London, New Delhi, and Hong Kong, and they all take afternoon tea breaks. It seems like a really pleasant way to unwind, wake up, and finish out the end of your day. We have offices worldwide and I don’t know any non-Brit offices that do it, but I wish we’d adopt it here in the US.

      Reply
      1. Feathers McGraw

        Ah, we don’t have a dedicated tea break time. It’s more of a regular while-you-work thing throughout the day!

        Reply
      2. Anna Pigeon

        We have a group here that goes for “tea” at the same time every afternoon, but it’s not so much tea as the time when the whole dept goes down to the kitchen together to chat for 10 minutes while maybe one or two of them actually make tea or coffee. But they call it teatime.

        Reply
        1. Vicki

          I used to work in a group that had a regular Friday hot chocolate break at the coffee place on the first floor. That was nice.

          Reply
  3. Amber Rose

    Hilariously, when someone brings in donuts, nobody will take the last donut but they will take some of it. So sometimes I walk by and notice just a quarter of a donut left in the box. This despite them not being on a desk, but on the kitchen counter.

    Reply
    1. Can't Sit Still

      The dreaded quarter donut! I’ve seen it get down to 1/16 before. At that point, just throw it away. No one is going to eat something that’s been handled that much!

      We also have the biter here. Someone takes a bite out of the bagel or donut and puts it back in the box. Who does that? There are plastic knives right there!

      Reply
        1. Paige Turner

          Ha, yes! (Also, I’m happy to read this because it justifies my reasoning about cooking for guests- no one wants to take the last of the food in a group setting, and especially if they are the guest, so my approach is to intentionally make extra so that people actually eat as much as they want without feeling bad about taking the last cookie or serving of chili or whatever.)

          Reply
          1. Turtle Candle

            Hah, I am reminded in an odd way of Miss Manners’ suggestion to get your guests to use the guest towels–because so many of us have been trained as children Not To Mess Up The Guest Towels, so even when we are the guest we won’t–by washing your hands and then drying them on one before your guests arrive, so that it will already be ‘messed up’ and they won’t feel bad about actually using it for its intended purpose.

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          2. KellyK

            That’s an excellent plan for cooking for guests, and I plan to steal it. I end up doing basically the same thing because I’d rather have too much food than not enough, but explicitly planning so that no one has to take the last whatever just seems very welcoming. It also gets you bonus leftovers, which is nice when you go to the effort of cooking for people.

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          3. Michele

            I hate going to bridal showers or similar things because of the food politics. No one wants to be seen eating more than the other women in a group like that, so everyone pretends that they are full after three bites. I end up eating a candy bar in the car as soon as I leave.

            Reply
            1. dragonzflame

              Screw that. I eat what I want at gatherings, and I will eat the last donut or slice of cake because if I don’t, it will languish in snack purgatory.

              Reply
              1. Michele

                My friends know how much I eat, and many of them are cyclists or runners like I am, so they tend to eat a lot, too. Bridal and baby showers are the worst, though.

                Reply
          4. Grapey

            I’m one to gladly eat the last bit of stuff assuming it’s been out for a long enough time to be picked if anyone truly wanted it.

            I host a lot of parties and it’s frustrating to have to put that last bit of food back in the jar or (more likely) just eat it whilst I’m clearing serving dishes.

            Reply
      1. Rincat

        That’s what toddlers do! Do you work with toddlers? (real toddlers I mean…I’m sure we all have a few “toddlers” in our offices…)

        Reply
        1. Clever Name

          Ha! I’m reminded of the time when my then 4-year-old secretly grabbed handfuls of some banana bread I had made. Right out of the center of the loaf, and of course if was one of the loaves I had set aside to give to neighbors. I was peeved at the time, but now I laugh and enjoy reminding him, now 10, of the incident. :)

          Reply
      2. Turtle Candle

        This reminds me of when I was in college and me and a bunch of friends would go out to a restaurant and order three or four desserts to share. Nobody wanted to take the last bite of chocolate torte or the last spoonful of creme brulee, so we’d end up cutting that thing into tinier and tinier pieces until it was just a crumb or a smudge. That ended when one of us said, “MUAHAHAHA, I shall be the greedy one and eat this entire one-eighth of a teaspoon of mousse!” and it became a running joke (and we could finally stop finely slicing every chocolate cake that came our way).

        Reply
        1. Amber Rose

          When I was a kid, my mom used to tease me whenever I took the last of anything by saying “a good Jewish girl never takes the last piece.”

          The first time I ever shared a dessert with my husband I said this primly to him as a joke, and now we fight over who can leave the smallest amount of dessert on the plate every time. I usually cave and eat it all. I am clearly not a good Jewish girl. ;)

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        2. PizzaDog

          There is half a cupcake sitting on the kitchenette counter in my office because no one wants to be the one to have finished the plate. It’s been there since 11am EST.

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      3. Franzia Spritzer

        My husband is a Biter. I’ll go to the fridge for a block of cheese and find it with a clearly distinct cartoon chomp out of it. He’s also the person who will leave 1/16 of a cookie. JUST EAT ALL OF IT IT’S OK!! He was a feral kid so I cut him a little slack, however I was raised with very strict/proper manners and the chomps in all of our food make me nuts.

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      4. Midge

        Speaking of bad office pastry behaviors (though not as bad as taking a single bite- yeesh!), I once discovered a basket of muffins in the break room of the non-profit where I was interning where someone had removed the tops of the remaining muffins, and left the stumps of muffin bottoms sitting in the basket. I mean, I get that people really likes muffins tops, but who thinks “yeah, the next person who comes along will totally want to eat this unwanted muffin bottom”?? There was a whole Seinfeld episode about this, people.

        Reply
        1. ancolie

          “I know what you thought. They don’t have homes, they don’t have jobs, what do they need the top of a muffin for? They’re lucky to get the stumps.”

          Reply
      5. Undine

        The one person I’ve seen do that was a famous mathematical economist at Princeton (later the subject of a movie). We had afternoon tea and cookies, and he once picked up a cookie, gave it a very profound deep mathematical look, bit a piece off, looked profounder, and then put the rest back. But he was schizophrenic at the time.

        Reply
    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      This is the same population of dingbats who will leave approximately seven milliliters of coffee in the bottom of the pot just so they don’t have to make a fresh one.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Yeah, see, I think it’s a similar reason too, I think that people just don’t want to break down and toss the donut box.

        So silly.

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          I think it’s also a sort of false-polite “Oh, I can’t be the one to take the whole last donut/cup, that’d be rude” thing. It’s sort of a Midwestern phenomenon.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Yup. It’s that last gasp of the old “Leave something on the plate for Miss Manners” etiquette–we fear that it looks greedy to clean the the thing out. What if somebody comes in who didn’t get any and now they’re all gone and it’s my fault? And hell, if even the *box* is gone, did I eat that too?

            Reply
            1. Grapey

              As a host I hate having to put away the last single gherkin or last spoonful of a side dish. Just take it that way I can put the dish straight from the table to the dishwasher!

              Reply
          2. JAM

            As a Midwesterner, I call it “Last Cookie” Syndrome. It extends to family cookie jars, workplace kitchens, and bridal/baby showers. Since becoming aware that I had the syndrome, I’ve decided the cure is to always eat the last one of something if I really do want it and haven’t already had more than my fair share.

            Reply
            1. KTB

              No one in my PNW office believes in the “Last Cookie” Syndrome. Those suckers disappear in a hot second here, with little to no remorse. And then whoever takes the last one inevitable forgets to dispose of the plate or container, much to the chagrin of those of us who missed out on the treats.

              Reply
            2. Code Monkey, the SQL

              Is there a ribbon for Last Cookie Syndrome? I think I’d like to join in your fight.

              The Last Donut(s) in our office will last for dayyyyyys.

              Reply
      2. KellyK

        Not cool. Donuts are a bonus, but coffee is life. Kill the pot and make more already, people!

        I really like the “Make More Coffee” flow chart currently hanging in my office. Both “No coffee left” and “less than a cup left” lead to “make another pot.” That and, the end result for *not* making more coffee is being eaten by a tiger.

        Reply
        1. Emi.

          But people do this even when making a new pot isn’t at issue! We get one carafe for the science colloquium, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. So if it’s getting low and there are more people in line, people start taking half cups and quarter cups. Sometimes you just take ~2 tablespoons of coffee and smile awkwardly at the person behind you.

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        2. Kyrielle

          And for goodness sake, if you don’t make more coffee, turn off the warmer.

          I don’t drink coffee. I have no skin in this game.

          Until the person who likes to rules-lawyer 2mm of coffee being left as not needing a new pot *leaves it on the warmer* and it stays there long enough to go dry.

          Because walking in to that smell is just ick.

          Reply
        3. I'm a tailor's apprentice

          There’s one woman in my office who won’t fill her cup of water if it looks like she might have to change the water bottle. It’s not even one of those old water bottles where you have to take the top off and risk spilling half of the water on the floor just to get it on the dispenser. It’s a lift and drop thing…the seal is broken when you drop it in place. No fuss, no muss. She won’t do it. And she hovers outside the break area with her cup just to see if another person will do it. I’m contrary. I won’t do it. Though I will take the empty container off, bring the new jug in and loudly tell her “Hey D, I see you need water! Here you can change it.” She still won’t, but she hightails it from the place after being noticed like that.

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq

            I don’t hover, but I do avoid the water bottle if it’s running low – I appear fully able-bodied, but have wrist issues that keep me from lifting anything heavier than a couple of pounds. It’s not something I advertise since it doesn’t come up often in your standard office.

            Reply
            1. Liz

              Ugh, same — the only people who replace the water on our floor are me (with arthritis, plus I kept having to replace it when I had a broken foot), the lady with two artificial hips, and the dude who lifts weights for fun.

              (Credit to weight lifting dude, he also makes an effort to pay attention to when it’s getting low, and rearranges the storage to make it easier for anyone else who has to lift it. But there’s 20 other people who could also help!)

              Reply
            2. Jean

              I can’t lift those water bottles at all, and I hate having to go around and ask someone to do it for me. But I’ve met 4-year-olds who are stronger than I am.

              Reply
      3. Michele

        Much like the people who don’t replace the water bottle on the cooler when it runs out. I understand if you have a bad back or arm or whatever and can’t lift it, but some people like to just let it get down to two drops and walk away.

        Reply
      4. Farrah Sahara

        These are the same people who somehow don’t “notice” that the copier is out of toner or needs more paper.

        Reply
        1. Jean

          I’m happy to add more paper to the copier, but my feeling is that if the receptionist (who also does most office supply tasks) would just fill up all the trays every day, no one else would have to worry about trying to find where she hides the copy paper reams.

          Reply
      5. JustaTech

        This is part of why K-cup coffee machines are so popular in offices. Even if they are terrible for the environment at least it puts an end to the 3 micron layer of coffee.

        Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Thing is, none of my coworkers are shy about any other kind of food. It’s only donuts. To be honest, I think it’s because nobody wants to be seen throwing out the box.

        Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Me too. I hate waste and have zero self control around sweets. I’m not particularly ashamed of this fact either.

        Reply
    3. Nonprofit Nancy

      Haha I had a huge fight with friends at a beach house about cutting donuts in half! I love to do it and love to have people leave halves for me – yay, I get to try more types! The kind I wanted wasn’t gone! But they saw it as hilariously self-denying (JUST EAT THE WHOLE DONUT, NANCY). Funny to see this is a debate everybody has.

      Reply
        1. Nonprofit Nancy

          Yeah people don’t understand … I am still eating a whole donut! Just made up of two different kinds, which is even BETTER! Who doesn’t like that!

          Reply
            1. Lissa

              But wouldn’t cutting them in halves increase the chance that you will get the kind you like, otherwise there’d be a bigger chance someone ahead of you would happen to also grab/prefer the only one you want?

              Reply
              1. fposte

                This is getting into donut game theory, but I agree with you. The question is how much half a donut diminishes the value to the acquirer–is it psychologically worth less than .5 of a donut?

                Reply
                1. CM

                  I think the answer to this is highly individual. Some people might prefer half a donut to avoid the temptation of a full donut, while others would see it as a tarnished donut. However, a donut that has already been eaten by somebody else would be worth 0 donuts to both of those people, so even if the value is diminished to some, it is still greater than 0. Of course, we also have to consider the probability that if Nancy ate a whole donut, she would choose the one that the subsequent donut eater (let’s call them Ernest) did NOT prefer, and from that point we also have to consider the scenario that an intermediate donut eater in between Nancy and Ernest chose the preferred donut. Overall, the value of the donut to Ernest across all possible scenarios is approximately .62 (where the value of a full donut is 1), but subtracting the value to Nancy of only being able to try one donut, the utility value over all donut eaters is .43.

              2. Marcela

                I do not like donuts, so I am missing the random feature that drives more of this conversation, but I do hate with all my soul when people cut desserts into pieces because they want to try all of them. My mom does that and drives us CRAZY. Do not mess up with my dessert!

                Reply
    4. North Dakota Jones

      I thought this was just my office! The efforts people go through to not take the last thing – leaving behind donut quarters, single smears of peanut butter, and a single poptart in a sleeve in the box. Seriously? Who wants a single, stale poptart.

      Reply
    5. Cath in Canada

      The last piece of cake in our office kitchen once got cut in half so many times that we ended up with just an unusually large crumb. It was the most Canadian thing I’ve ever seen.

      Reply
    6. kc89

      omg yes, I loathe people who do that.

      Eat the donut!!! Don’t eat half of it and leave a sad half donut in a big empty box.

      Reply
    7. Trout 'Waver

      I unashamedly take the last donut or cookie. My logic being that if the last donut is taboo, then the person who took the second-to-last donut is the person who took the last available donut. If you follow that logic all the way, nobody gets any donuts.

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        I often take the last whatever with a joke about being a savage from the West Coast (I live in the Midwest now, and the half-donut dying in the box is absolutely a thing in my office).

        Reply
    8. S-Mart

      I had a friend in college who would announce upon taking his first donut/cookie/chip/whatever from a pack that he was eating the ‘last’ one. I think it helped our cohort not worry about taking the last of something. Actually, for a time there was a competition of sorts to be the one to take the last goodie.

      Reply
    9. seejay

      My partner calls it the “bagel crime” when someone leaves all the bottoms of the bagels (ie, the parts without the toppings) in the box.

      If you’re only going to eat half a bagel, cut the sucker in half and take a part of the top and bottom instead of taking a whole top with all the good bits and leaving the naked bottom!

      Reply
      1. JustaTech

        There’s a bagel shop in my city that puts the “toppings” on the top and the bottom *specifically* so that people don’t end up with essentially plain bagel halves when they wanted sesame or poppy seed or whatever.

        Reply
    10. Milton Waddams

      Sometimes I wonder if this could be solved by the donut-bringer leaving a note that says, “Please — take the last donut.” The food is supposed to help discourage distractions, not become a source of distraction itself.

      Reply
  4. Sadie Doyle

    Our newsroom’s alpha-most alpha, Executive Editor Marty Baron, keeps a Mason jar of peanut M&Ms on a table in his office.

    Even if he is the most senior editor, I think that bold bit explains a lot. I can’t be the only one who’s read those stories about how disgusting communal unwrapped candy (like restaurant mints) is when put under a microscope. If they’re not wrapped or in a dispenser, I’ll pass.

    (No offense, WaPo editors. I’m sure you guys always wash your hands in the bathroom! But I have seen at least one coworker not do it, so I’m not gonna risk it.)

    Reply
    1. Anony-shark

      Yeah, I pretty much only take unwrapped candy if it’s clear that the norm keeps it sanitary. (For a while I worked at a place that had the enormous warehouse-store-size jar of Jelly Belly on hand at all times. With, thank you very much, a plastic spoon in it for removing what you wanted. And everyone I ever saw actually used the spoon, so that was really nice.

      But if there’s a communal jar of M&Ms (loose, not in fun packs), I don’t care if it’s in the executive’s office or on the break room counter, I’m not taking them.

      Reply
      1. Anxa

        I had a health inspection license so I’m also doing little things to reduce the handling of food (I cringe at Pinterest trends which add lots of extra handling of ready to eat food for photo ops).

        I’ve seen scoops slip into the food or people just dump them in or keep the scoop somewhere also grody, so I tend to use necked jars and bottles to dispense things like round candies, nuts, seeds, and other small, firm snacks. Of course they are washed and dried thoroughly and I don’t use bottles that housed common allergies.

        Reply
        1. Venus Supreme

          I know I’m in the minority here, but I always Lysol down my office at the end of every week- the doorknobs, the keyboard, the phone, the drawer pulls on the desk and filing cabinet… If I could live in a hygienic bubble I would! Haha

          Reply
        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I’m with Feathers—I figure there are lots of other gross things I encounter during the day that are more likely to transmit germs (see, e.g., cash).

          But also, unless the mason jar is particularly wide-mouthed, folks probably have to lift it and pour candy into their hand for it to work effectively, which also somewhat minimizes the likelihood of the candy itself being grody.

          All that said, I’m an individually-wrapped Wint-o-Green lifesavers kind of candy disher ;)

          Reply
        3. Jaguar

          Yeah, I don’t care at all, either. I’ll eat the sandwich a friend took a bite out of and decided they hate. I used to be a lot more germaphobic, but I realized how the stands I took were more about my own bizarre ideas of grossness was a poor match for how I was exposing myself to germs (some things I did were way worse for germ exposure). I looked at how often I got sick and decided the whole thing was silly and decided to work against my own hangups than push further into germ avoidance.

          One of my favourite things I read once (as a man) was the idea of washing hands after using the urinal. Why? My genitals get washed daily and they get their own protective, cleanly washed clothing. If anything, I should be washing my hands before I use the washroom to avoid contaminating it.

          Reply
          1. NotASalesperson

            I have to say that as soon as I started washing my hands after taking public transit, I stopped getting sick virtually every week, so there’s something to be said for washing your hands after using public spaces because other people *don’t* wash their hands before using things like doorknobs and toilet handles.

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            1. Jaguar

              Oh, yeah, I didn’t mean to say that people aren’t exposing themselves to germs constantly. I meant to say that, at least in my case, I wasn’t getting sick, so fretting about the stuff I did was just my own neurosis. Like how people worry about sitting on public toilets when they’re probably vastly cleaner than their own at home. I just come to peace with the idea that when I shake hands with people or eat at restaurants or whatever, there’s a decent number of them that have some insanely gross personal hygiene and it’s the cost of doing business.

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              1. MegaMoose, Esq

                I got yelled at once for picking up a roll of TP that had fallen on our work bathroom floor and putting it back in the dispenser. That bathroom gets cleaned every day, people. I don’t know anyone who mops their bathroom every day.

                Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Nah, I’m with you. (Whenever my brother and I would eat or do gross stuff as kids, our mom would sort of sigh and say, “Well, I guess it’s good for your immune system…” and that’s kind of the approach I take here too.)

        Reply
      2. Emi.

        I’m not either. Are you from a big family, by chance? IME, number of siblings is the strongest predictor of chillness about food safety.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          Yeah I have three brothers and I just don’t care. If it’s unsafe to eat, you can usually tell from taste, sight or touch. Other than that – any disease my coworker can pass on to me just by touching something I touch I probably already have.

          Reply
        2. Anon for this

          Maybe there’s something to it.

          Anecdotally: I’m an only child and one of my grandfathers worked in public health. His and my grandmother’s kitchen had a framed certificate, graded like a restaurant. :)

          I am not chill about food safety. Like, at all. lol.

          Reply
          1. Anon for this

            Meant to add: My grandfather sometimes oversaw or performed those health inspections of restaurants. He followed those standards at home, taught them to his kids, and then a little bit made its way to me.

            Reply
          2. SignalLost

            This is fascinating to me. I have no concept of food safety any longer (did when I worked in food service) so I will happily eat ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo that have been luxuriating in my car half the day, and everyone knows the best pizza is leftover, room-temp pizza, not chilled which makes the crust awful, so you should leave it out to stay room temp. I love candy dishes, give no shits about communal unwrapped candy, eat bar snacks, refuse to boil canned soup for five minutes, and consider any hot drink made within the last 24 hours fine. I just generally put most food things into the mouth part of my face with no reservations. I have four siblings, and 4 nieces and nephews who are closer in age than my siblings to me.

            My boyfriend is an only child, and he can barely tolerate hauling the food home from the takeaway if we walk over (it’s two blocks). I once inadvertently fed my mother a snack I picked up that was sold in a paper wrapper like you get on hashbrowns in fast food, and was served out of a publicly-accessible cake stand with cover, and she can’t even walk past a case of self-serve donuts without hyperventilating. She is also an only child.

            Reply
      3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        I’m a microbiologist. My choices were a) become a germophobe, b) go utterly insane or c) not care. I chose C. The world is slathered in an incomprehensible diversity of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Most of them won’t make you sick.

        Reply
        1. hermit crab

          haha yes, I have a public health degree, and I agree completely.

          Actually, that’s not quite true. I do try to stick with (c), but occasionally can’t help going with (d), which is “become really fascinated and excitedly tell people things about microbes that they probably don’t want to know.”

          Reply
        2. Lablizard

          “The entire world is coated in a thin veneer of fecal matter” – old boss

          I also tend to C with a healthy dose of grossing out other people (especially my Gentleman Caller) by enumerating what is likely on every surface, occasionally backed up by Petri dishes

          Reply
          1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious

            Oh, gross! I was tryingto snack while reading this. (Solution: stop reading long enough to have the last two spoonsful. Or is that spoonfulls?)
            Seriously, it’s wise to wash hands after taking public transit but if one worried about every last microbe one would indeed be insane.

            Reply
          2. kittymommy

            “The entire world is coated in a thin veneer of fecal matter” – old boss

            I’m stealing this – it’ll drive my coworkers nuts! They already give me the side eye as I tend to be that person who determines what that weird white spot on her shirt by licking it. (It was toothpaste.)

            Reply
            1. Michele

              When I first read this, I thought it said you were licking your coworker’s shirt to see what the white spot was, and I instantly imagined an AaM letter from your coworker.

              Reply
        3. Anxa

          I was preparing to be an environmental health specialist, and I can’t say I chose c).

          My route was to become kind of obsessive about mitigating particular risks while embracing exposure in low risk situations.

          I’m pretty much at the border of being unhealthily germaphobic at the gym, but that’s because I’ve had 3 bouts of infected eczema and am high-risk for skin infections and I’m not trying to take more antibiotics if I can help it. So I wear more full-coverage workout gear, turn it inside out and sequester it away to my ‘icky laundry’ hamper.

          But I’m not really into disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer and eat raw oysters, etc.

          Reply
          1. Big Red Jeep

            Also the gym is filthy. Like one of the grossest places possible. My husb thinks I’m crazy because I take my shoes, shirt/jacket, and sometimes pants off as soon as I get home from the gym. Not trying to get staph, thanks. *shudder*

            Reply
        4. Phyllis B

          Well, I’ve always heard that having too sterile an environment can back-fire. That having pets and not being super vigilant about cleaning is really better for your immune system. Must be true, because we have had pets for years, and my standard for cleaning are not…..let’s say strict. All of us me, hubs, 3 children and six grand-children are all healthy and vigorous.

          Reply
        5. JustaTech

          I work with human blood and my approach is to apply all the obsessive cleanliness and safety standards to the lab, but let go and live life outside the lab. I simply do not have the energy to freak out about touching the back of the chair in the lunch room when I spend 3 hours working with blood.
          (Yes, I have coworkers who are like that. He once set fire to some potato chips he was microwaving to get the germs off because they were in a communal bowl for a party.)

          Reply
      4. kittymommy

        Nope, I don’t care either. Or rather, my level of gross is directly tied to how much I like that candy. Regular MM’s I’d pass. Peanut? I’m all up in there. What would stop me is it being in someone’s office, anyone’s office.

        Reply
      5. Franzia Spritzer

        Totally not grossed out, I like to think of it as keeping my probiotics healthy. I’m an avid camper and go to burning man and other festivals where you’re bound to be eating a lot of dirt regardless of any efforts to stay clean. So why fight it, embrace the dirt and enjoy!

        Reply
    2. Elemeno P.

      Yeah, that was my thinking. My old office was full of candy dishes (mine included) and we all had individually-wrapped candies. One of our temps (who was also a regular dish-emptier) brought in M&Ms once to put in his own attempt at a candy jar and nobody ate them but him.

      Reply
    3. Elizabeth H.

      Actually, for things where it’s easy to take one without touching any of the other items (like bagels in a bag or bowl or something) it’s more hygienic to not have a utensil because then everyone will only touch the one item that they take, rather than everyone touches the same pair of tongs.
      However, M&Ms in a mason jar probably wouldn’t qualify, it is too easy to touch the other M&Ms when you are picking yours out. All of this is negated if you touch the lid of the jar anyway.

      Reply
      1. Vancouver Reader

        I wish it were true, but I’ve heard stories about people picking up a bagel, deciding it’s not the one they want, and putting it back and picking up another. And god knows how many bagels they touch before they get just the right one.

        Reply
            1. Turtle Candle

              Or, in a pinch, using a napkin to shield your hand from the bagels. Sort of like the little paper thingies that people often use at coffee shops to bag scones. I use a napkin to pick food up out of a pile all the time.

              Reply
    4. Cath in Canada

      We have some miniature plastic tongs next to our communal candy dish. We also have communal jars of pretzels and mixed nuts, but the keeper of those jars also has a stash of small plastic cups. We pour from the big containers into the cups, rather than putting our hands in the jar.

      One of my colleagues once decided that the plastic cups weren’t classy enough, and picked up some nice little glass bowls at a thrift store. So some of us now eat our cheesits and other snacks from fancy dishes.

      Reply
      1. I'm a tailor's apprentice

        One of my BFF’s is a nurse and her hubby is an emergency room MD. They do the tilt and pour for bagged items rather than reach into the bag for a serving. I asked her once why and she said it was a habit she’d picked up at the hospital. If you tilt and pour chips (pretzels, candy, etc) onto your plate then nobody accidentally contaminates the bag. She said that when she was in nursing school someone had reached into the bag of chips at a potluck and a band-aid fell off their hand into the bag. That was the end for her. She insists on doing the tilt and pour and won’t eat from a bag that someone has reached their hand into unless it’s a single serving bag and it was her hand.

        Reply
        1. the gold digger

          I was taking the bus through Guatemala. We stopped at a tiny little town – mud roads, no bathroom or running water at the restaurant. I wanted to wash my hands and asked the cook where I could do. She pointed to a big barrel of water.

          Into which I plunged my dirty hands.

          Before I noticed the ladle that was for retrieving drinking water from the barrel.

          If they had had guns, they would have shot me.

          Reply
          1. Allison in Alaska

            Oh my goodness! Shivers down my spine at your story, ack!!! Not quite as high stakes as dirtying the drinking water, but…..

            I wandered into a very chic boutique in Paris when I was 14 doing the tourist bit. I had the fudgey, ooey-gooey remains of a chocolate pastry in my hand and just assumed that like most stores in the US there would be a trash can handy. I froze inside, frantically searching for a bin, as the sales lady scolded me in French to (presumably) throw out the pastry. She was gesticulating toward the door and I saw a tall thin gilded cylindrical container in the direction of her pointing, so I ran over and dumped the pastry into what I thought was a fancy trash can…. to immediate shrieks and curses from the sales woman and an elegant older customer. Instead of taking my garbage outside as they’d intended to communicate to me, I’d thrown my waste into their umbrella container and coated the other customer’s Hermes umbrella with chocolate and pastry cream. The shame! 20 years later I’m convinced I must still be on some sort of watch-list in France!

            Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I don’t either…I also don’t have a problem being the first person to take something, like at a potluck or buffet. Too many people stand around waiting for someone else to start, but as soon as someone walks up they jump in line. Although if it’s the first time I’ve seen the candy out, I might not take the last piece because I might not be sure if everyone has had a chance. But if I’ve seen it there for a while, I will finish it off…AND toss the box if it’s something like donuts. I think that might be the reason some people don’t take the last one, they don’t want to bother cleaning up.

      Reply
      1. Chinook

        I’m with you. I have no compunction taking the last donut or Timbit but I think it is rude to leave the empty box behind. It should absolutely be thrown out by the person who takes the last one.

        Reply
          1. Turtle Candle

            This is definitely why I don’t use the water cooler when it’s running low–not refilling the water cooler when it runs out is a Jerk Move, but I am really uncomfortable refilling the water cooler, so I just go thirsty for a while. (Not because I’m unwilling, mind you, and not because I can’t lift heavy objects, but I’m very clumsy indeed and I dropped the bottle once and it splashed everywhere and made a mess, and while Facilities was really nice about it it was a pain in the neck and now I’m kind of afraid of doing the same thing again.)

            Reply
            1. myswtghst

              I am the same way! I know I will drop it / spill it / generally make a mess, so I’ll just go grab something else from the break room or walk to the other water cooler under the guise of getting more steps instead.

              Reply
          2. Liane

            I believe that is related to the reason people leave 5 drops of coffee in the office pot–they don’t want to make a new one.

            Reply
          3. Anon for this

            But they’re leaving an entire donut for whoever breaks down the box for them!

            I used to just put the last donut halves and quarters on a paper plate, break down the box, and be done with it.

            Reply
      2. I'm a tailor's apprentice

        My brother in law will only eat food at a buffet, potluck or from a breakroom donut box if he’s the first person to touch it. He won’t touch it if someone else has touched it before him. He’s got wicked germ issues. He and my sister had a buffet at their wedding because it was the cheaper option. He wouldn’t let anyone get up and approach the buffet until he’d served his plate. He even made a quick plea to everyone to just stay seated until he got his food. My sister was embarrassed but I was on his side…he paid for the food and he was totally upfront about why he was asking. It was like 2 minutes. We all survived. LOL!

        Reply
    2. Adonday Veeah

      In our office, the candy dish sits on the Executive Director’s desk. When she says she’s making a Costco run, I give her money to contribute to the candy stash, and I contribute way more than I take. According to her, I’m the only person who contributes. So no, I don’t feel badly about taking the last piece — I PAID FOR IT.

      Reply
  5. Chinook

    I love this line:
    “…although he said he also figured that no one would fire the guy with the candy dish. (Kevin is a bit more Machiavellian than we originally thought.)”

    Does anyone know if Kevin’s theory works?

    Reply
          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            I love banana laffy taffy. COME AT ME BRO

            I know someone who put a dish of licorice and buttered popcorn Jelly Bellies at his desk. It never failed. Someone would stand up, thank him, say goodbye, ask if he minded, and grab a few. Two seconds later? “EAUGGHGGHHGHHHHLLGHG.”

            Reply
              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                I asked him to try the combo once. It’s like the gustatory equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

                And yes, artificial banana flavor is awesome. Yes, we know it doesn’t taste like banana, that’s the point.

                Reply
                1. Mirax

                  Ever since I read that artificial banana flavor is actually the flavor of a now-extinct banana species, I’m fascinated by it. It’s like a sugary time capsule, delivering me something I’ll never experience for real.

                2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  Yes, it actually mimics the main constituent of the flavor of the Gros Michel banana! I heard that on the Gastropod podcast and it blew my mind.

                3. Turtle Candle

                  This reminds me of the first time I ever ate a Concord grape–we’d always had green or red table grapes at my house. I was like, “OH, this is what grape candy is trying to taste like!”

                4. Kyrielle

                  I did not know this! Fascinating, and thank you. I’ve learned something today. (That flavor component is *also* in the current standard banana, although the Gros Michel had more of it, apparently.)

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gros_Michel_banana for anyone else who’s a little bit curious. (Sorry, if you’re a lot curious then you are on your own, that’s all I went and read.)

                5. Liane

                  I too like artificial banana flavoring and I do not like bananas, not even a little. A friend told me Mirax’s fun fact (about the flavoring being based on the extinct kind) after I admitted my taste oddity.
                  And I have heard that the current banana species (?) is in danger of dying out because all of them are clones. (Disclaimer–since I don’t eat bananas I haven’t bothered to fact-check this.)

                6. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  Yep, same fungal blight that killed off the Gros Michel is now coming for the Cavendish. I actually know a crop genomicist who’s attempting to come up with a GMO banana that is resistant to it.

              2. fposte

                Whoa, I never heard that about artificial banana flavor. I’m going to have to find that podcast.

                (I’m terrified of Cavendish doom. I eat a metric ton of bananas.)

                Reply
                1. Adlib

                  My husband might die if the world ran out of bananas. He uses them in his smoothies, every single day. We always have bananas!

            1. Emilia Bedelia

              Honestly, I think I love your coworker. I am a shameless black licorice lover, and a persnickety one-at-a-time small candy eater. In my opinion, if you’re willing to take the risk of tossing a handful of jellybeans into your mouth indiscriminately, you deserve to experience whatever awful flavor combinations you come up with.

              Reply
              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                Once, I tossed a coffee and a tutti frutti jellybean into my mouth at the same time. Almost as obnoxious. I learned my lesson.

                Reply
              2. I'm a tailor's apprentice

                I eat my small candies one at a time too. I can make a bag of jelly beans last hours. And…I usually eat by color.

                Reply
                1. Emilia Bedelia

                  True story: as a child, I ate M&Ms in multiple bites.

                  As an adult, I still organize them by color and eat them so that they come out even at the end. I dunno, it’s more fun this way.

              3. Jaydee

                Black licorice and buttered popcorn are, individually, two of my favorite jelly bean flavors. I would love to visit that candy dish regularly and carefully eat all the buttered popcorn beans in my handful first and then all the licorice ones and feel very happy about my life.

                Reply
                1. Tmarie

                  I am also down for the buttered popcorn Jelly Bellies. When I get my little dish of them I try to save the Buttered Popcorn for last, because my food oddity is I eat least favorite to favorite food…sometimes in low light, it’s hard to tell the difference between the other whitish beans and the popcorn ones. Boo.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

              I found banana flavored gummies once in Japan. I never bothered to total up how many yen I spent that day, because I have no shame as far as this is concerned, but it was high enough.

              Reply
            2. SimonTheGreyWarden

              One Christmas, my mom found me one of those big plastic candy canes full of candy, except instead of the usual M&Ms it was nothing but Banana Runts. It was the best Christmas gift I ever received.

              Reply
          2. NPO Queen

            Banana Laffy Taffy is delicious and I would consider someone who stocks it a true friend of mine. In an office where I’m the main supplier of candy, it’s nice when someone else brings in one of my favorites.

            Reply
        1. Emilia Bedelia

          I am willing to forgive things like Laffy Taffy and Jolly Ranchers and strawberry candies. I won’t eat them, but I will let them slide.

          The people who put peanut butter cups and mint candy together in a dish deserve to be fired on the spot however. There is nothing that tastes as awful as a mint-tainted peanut butter cup.

          Reply
            1. Emilia Bedelia

              I can only assume it’s an unintentional oversight on their part that leads to mixing chocolate and mints. But trust me, it is vile.

              Reply
              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                Oh, I’ve had it, it made me want to fire my tongue just for bringing the bad news to my brain. I was just alarmed at the idea that someone would be so sadistic as to do it purposefully.

                Reply
          1. Anonymous Poster

            One time I did skittles and M&Ms.

            …yes, sometimes I have a real ginger streak, but it was absolutely hilarious to see people try to conjure up compliments about one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen eaten.

            Reply
            1. Anonymous Poster

              What I meant to say, was that I stocked my candy dish with mixed Skittles and M&Ms just to see what people would do.

              Reply
            2. Katie the Fed

              Oh, and the novelty M&Ms mixed in with regular. Candy Corn M&Ms are nasty. So are pumpkin spice. Don’t mix those in a normal M&M jar.

              Reply
          2. Volunteer Enforcer

            Finally I have proof that one of my previous bosses isn’t as unusual as I thought – he came across peanut butter and mint as well, poor chap.

            Reply
          3. myswtghst

            I was the person who carefully separated all our holiday candy at my last job so that the fruit candy (Skittles, Starburst, etc…) wasn’t in the same bowl as the chocolate candy, and when we did have mints they always got their own container that was always reused only for mints and nothing else. Because flavor mixing is a great way to waste perfectly good candy.

            Reply
      1. Sally

        The candy dish person in my department is so incompetent and a blamer, she needs to be fired. I suspect she thinks the candy dish will help keep her job.

        Reply
      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        “Put me on a PIP and the candy jar gets it!”

        Alison’s eyes narrow. Her pulse rises. “We don’t….negotiate….with terrorists.”

        Reply
      3. Malibu Stacey

        Yeah, I have worked with the Social Director-type who takes it upon themselves to bring in candy/food or plan potlucks and happy hours and thinks they’re indispensable because of that.

        Reply
        1. KellyK

          Aw, man, and here I was trying to be indispensable by being friendly, helpful, and good at my job. Candy sounds like way less work!

          Seriously, even if the potlucks and happy hours are a major source of morale, they’re not hard to set up. If people miss them after the social director gets fired, someone else will take over.

          Reply
    1. Hush42

      That line reminded me of the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Marshall was afraid he’d get fired so he decided that he had to have a “thing”. I think he eventually decided on being the “Sports Guy” but I can see “Candy Guy” working under the same theory.

      Reply
  6. MsCHX

    Being in HR, I’ve always kept a candy bowl. Currently, it is on the table in my office. The bowl is *right* near the door. You don’t even have to cross the threshold technically. Now, if I’m not in my office, my door is closed/locked.

    When I’m in here well, everyone says something before grabbing candy unless I’m on the phone. One lady always says “I’m stealing a piece of candy.” Another always says, “I really shouldn’t…”

    PLEASE JUST TAKE THE CANDY AND GO! lol!!! I almost wish there were a table outside of my office so I could put it there.

    Reply
    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      “I really shouldn’t!” Take it up with your first grade teacher, mother, or God, lady.

      Reply
    2. Nonprofit Nancy

      I can’t be the candy dish person. I tried once at an old job. People got weirdly entitled about the candy, and actually mad if I let it run out. I won’t get yelled at about free candy I voluntarily provided! NO MORE CANDY.

      Reply
      1. Catnip Melba Toast

        Yes, I had the same experience. People would complain if I was out of something they liked, and some people would take hand-fulls when I wasn’t at my desk. I finally had enough and got rid of it. Never again!

        Reply
    3. Gwen

      I get the annoyance but it also feels like you’re going “I hate you, but I like candy” if you just duck into someone’s office to get candy without acknowledging them in any way!

      Reply
  7. Venus Supreme

    This is so fascinating. A lot of what’s written here applies to my own experience. BigBoss here has candy dishes in her office. Once I noticed that people usually will politely take one or two pieces if she’s in the room, but one time a group held a meeting in her office while she wasn’t there and everyone went to town eating the candies.

    Not sure if this is a psychological thing or not, but I won’t take food from the communal bowl if it isn’t wrapped. Hershey’s kiss? I’ll take two. Pretzels? No thanks.

    Reply
  8. Jen

    The woman across the hall has M&Ms sometimes and she puts a little plastic spoon in the bowl so you don’t have to touch them and I still see people stick their dirty hands in the bowl all the time. Super gross.

    I usually have a bowl of chocolates. I change it up and I love the amount of negative feedback I get “I don’t like peanut butter cups. Don’t buy those anymore” or “Dark chocolate?!” – it’s insane. My husband lost his job so my weekly candy purchase is a good thing to cut and people will still say something to me “Where’s the candy?” and I am honesty and say “Well, my husband lost his job so I’m watching the budget and candy isn’t a necessity” and I’ve had a few folks say “I’ve eaten so many pieces, I’ll buy you some” but so far, no one has. So the bowl sits empty!

    Reply
  9. Chickaletta

    Candy dishes are openings into people’s true selves, I think. Long time ago I had an office outside of a common area that had a conference table and a big stash of candy in the center, and it was also a pass through area to get to one of the exits, so all day long people would walk by and get something from the candy dish. What and how much they took, how long they contemplated their decision, and especially the comments and chit-chat they offered up (or didn’t) told me a lot more about them then you’d know from casual conversation in the hallway. It was the one place in the office where people let their guard down.

    Reply
    1. hermit crab

      It’s so fascinating! A few years ago, I was keeping weird hours in the office because I was also going to grad school. Sometimes I’d leave early in the afternoon to go to class, sometimes I’d come back after class and be there late at night, etc. I also had a candy dish, and it was so interesting to see the differences in candy consumption during periods of time when I was keeping normal office hours (like during school breaks) vs. when I wasn’t. Also, there were a few times when people came to get candy during off-hours, fully expecting me not to be there, and that was always pretty hilarious (for me, anyway).

      Reply
      1. The OG Anonsie

        Yes! This is what I was going to bring up. We had a candy dish in the cube next to mine several jobs ago, and it was right at the entrance. Our cubes were along a busy through-way in and out of the department.

        When my coworker was there, a few of the same people who knew her would stop by for a piece of candy now and then. They would politely take one piece quickly and often with some comments about how they shouldn’t take candy but you knowwww and etc. I worked later than everyone else in that area, though, and once she (and the others within view of the dish) left, suddenly I would hear people rooting around in there to find the exact piece they wanted, and/or grabbing a handful at once. You couldn’t see me from where the dish was, though, so what would happen is someone who didn’t work with us would dig around in the bowl and take a handful and then come around to corner and see me and look like they just got seriously busted. They’d see me right as they were coming away with a fistful of tiny candy bars and their eyes would bug out and they would look so embarrassed, then avert their eyes and chug down the hallway at top speed while looking away from me.

        A few folks would raid the dish every night and once some of them realized I was there they started taking alternate routes so they could snatch a handful without me seeing them. I could tell who was who by the sound of their walk and the way they dug in the candy dish, eventually, so I knew it was two regulars who used to speed past me with eyes fixed on the ground who were now turning around and going the long way to avoid being seen taking a bunch of candy. These same people came and did this every day, EVERY DAY, once the in-sight-of-the-bowl people were gone in the afternoon, and I never saw or heard them come during the day. The dish owner would fill it up in the morning, the daytime regulars would take some pieces throughout the day but the dish would still be mostly full, then the later shift sneakers would come and eat the entire rest of the bowl every evening. It would be empty every morning when the dish owner came in even though it was nearly full when she left in the early afternoon.

        To be clear, I could not possibly care less how much candy anyone took, and the candy dish owner didn’t either. But I was seriously amused by how much shame people seemed to have about taking the candy, and how they had an actual daily routine for taking candy that included changing their routes so as not to be seen or judged for having some.

        Reply
        1. Mrs. Fenris

          My workplace is a 24 hour facility. We don’t have a true candy dish, but the unofficial communal-food spot is between my and my coworkers’ workstations. Day shift will munch along steadily on things, but the overnighters…they will eat any quantity of anything.

          Reply
    2. I'm a tailor's apprentice

      About a year ago someone put loose M&M’s in the candy dish at the front of the office. (Small branch, maybe 10 people total). There were only about 20 candies left in the bowl so one of the ladies (T) here just grabbed the bowl and brought it to her desk towards the very end of the day. Her intention was to fill the bowl with a bag of candy the next morning. Another woman (L) came out of the back office and asked about the candies. Someone told her where the dish was. L stomped over to T’s desk, snatched the dish up and poured the still untouched remaining candies into her hand and then said to L “Try sharing next time!!!” put the dish down and then walked away. We all sat there open mouthed with astonishment. T was so ticked off she put the empty dish back and announced that she would not be filling the dish and we were welcome to if we’d like to. The next day L noticed that the dish was empty and complained that people were so selfish. She had eaten nearly the whole bowl to begin with! And she never refilled it.

      Reply
    3. Hrovitnir

      Heh, it’s funny, because the dynamics mentioned in the excerpt seemed completely on-point to me as someone who would only take it if I was really comfortable with the person and they reiterated it’s OK. If I explicitly knew it was OK I might take one or two while they’re not around.

      I am deeply wary of presumed closeness on my part and gift sharking on theirs. (Excessively, but that’s just how I am.)

      Reply
  10. Morning Glory

    Oh how funny, I just left a comment on this morning’s baked good’s post about why I would grab a cookie from the kitchen but not cut myself a slice of banana bread. It’s not quite the same, but the psychology behind the decision is very similar.

    Reply
    1. I'm a tailor's apprentice

      I’ve known people who have no issue taking the first slice of the banana bread…even in moments where they’re pretty sure they shouldn’t. While I was in college, my sister invited a friend over for a study session. My mother had made a loaf of banana bread and it was on the counter cooling. While we were sitting there doing our homework this woman got up, grabbed a knife from the drain and cut herself a huge slice of bread without saying a word. To this day I think it’s one of those most brazen things I’ve ever seen anyone do. And she just shrugged when we pointed out that she never asked like “oh well”. My mom was pissed!!!

      Reply
      1. Lissa

        Someone in our tabletop gaming went into the host’s kitchen and cut herself a piece of cheese! I wasn’t there at the time, but the host complained to me about it later and I was both like “WTF seriously?” and also not surprised at who it was…

        Reply
        1. I'm a tailor's apprentice

          I am of the mindset “Don’t Touch My Stuff!” so I am really aware of other people’s personal spaces. I don’t care how good the friend is, I always ask before I get a drink or a snack. I don’t go in their bedrooms, I don’t look in their medicine cabinets, and I don’t touch their stuff. My mother (who was pissed about the bread being eaten) actually is a person who is intrusive of other peoples spaces. She looks in the cabinets, opens closed doors in other peoples homes, and even asks people what they paid or what they get paid. It’s probably the reason I am so private about my space. I literally lock my bedroom door when she visits so she can’t look in there.

          Reply
        2. Turtle Candle

          That made me go “whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?” I have a few very good friends where we are on “just go into my cupboard and get what you want” standing, but that’s something more or less explicitly decided between us (by one of us saying “if you’re hungry, just check the snack pantry, it’s the cabinet next to the fridge” or whatever).

          Otherwise what you do is say, “I’m getting kind of nibbly, is anyone else hungry?” and then either your host will offer you something, or you can order or pick up something if they don’t. I’ve both had the host go, “Oh, I have cookies!” and I’ve been the one to order wings or run down to 7-11 for a bag of chips.

          But you surely do not go into someone else’s kitchen and help yourself, unless that is a pre-existing facet of your relationship!

          Reply
      2. Morning Glory

        I shuddered reading both of these!

        These are the people that would have no issue going into Kevin’s office, unscrewing the mason jar, and eating his candy.

        Reply
  11. hermit crab

    You all might enjoy this similar piece from the British Medical Journal’s Christmas issue a few years ago — I won’t put a direct link here, but it’s called “The survival time of chocolates on hospital wards: covert observational study.”

    Reply
    1. Feathers McGraw

      Going slightly off-topic but thanks for the heads up. We get the BMJ at work and they do some brilliant research at Christmas – most recently about whether Santa is more likely to appear on wards with more deprived kids. (Answer: sadly not.)

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Aww, that’s too bad about Santa. BMJ’s holiday issues are fabulous, though. One of my favorites (other than the chocolate one) is one about sex ratios of Darwin Award recipients. The abstract begins, “Sex differences in risk seeking behaviour, emergency hospital admissions, and mortality are well documented. However, little is known about sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour.” :-)

        Reply
        1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)

          My favourite BMJ Christmas edition study was about the dispersal rate of teaspoons from shared office kitchens. (Spoiler: where morale is lower, people steal more cutlery.)

          Reply
  12. A Beth

    I’m responsible for our candy dish (as the office manager, not as a favor-currier). I used to keep it in my office, and people would interrupt my lunch breaks/closed door time just to get candy, which made me angry enough that I moved it to the workroom next door. Over the years I’ve transitioned from a pretty crystal dish to some occasional seasonal bowls to, currently, a smoky gray dish with a lid. People would joke(?) about not being able to resist so I thought a more opaque dish with a lid might help with their willpower without depriving everyone.

    I just finally bought the first chocolate of the year after getting through a stock of mints–I figured by this point I’m not going to be jeopardizing any new year’s resolutions (and several people lamented the lack of peanut butter cups).

    There’s definitely more to it than just picking up a bag of whatever’s on sale!

    Reply
  13. Brett

    My life in emergency management trained me to always take the food when it was available, even if it was the last piece. If you didn’t, the firefighters and police officers would.

    There was actually interesting dynamics in the mixed response team situations of an emergency ops center. Health and public works staked out the food as it was being set up. Firefighters came whenever, but would fill their plates even if it meant taking all the food left. Police officers would miss the food coming out and eat last, but actually take the entire tray of food back to their table. Dispatchers showed up randomly and would leave the room with trays (but they ate in a different part of the building).
    There was also dynamics within teams in that environment. Health staff would only eat after the health director left to plate up. Public works and police had no such ordering. Fire ate in the opposite order with commanders last (but they were especially likely to clean out the food).

    Reply
    1. paul

      I’ve seen it go root hog or die in EOC’s myself; good god what a bunch of stressed hungry people can do toa chick-fil-a biscuit tray and a few large pizzas is something to behold

      Reply
  14. MoinMoin

    Man, I wish they did this study for my last office mate’s candy dish. Intriguing factors included:
    -When office mate was gone but I was there, people seemed more uninhibited to get candy (almost seemed like they were waiting for her to leave) but still felt the need to interact with me
    -Office mate was diabetic and didn’t eat candy, but stared at it most of the day in a way I could only hope for admirers to look at me. Regular candy takers were also all diabetic, had had bariatric surgery, or very obese and open about dieting, and always made a big show of explaining why they shouldn’t/don’t usually/are treating themselves. This isn’t a judgement on them -I’m no stranger to dieting myself- it was just interesting.
    -Non regular candy takers would make really elaborate and transparent excuses to come talk to us and have candy.
    -I brought in a small fruit bowl for anyone that wanted, but mostly for myself to put in my line of vision between me and the candy bowl. Pretty sure I was the only one that ate any fruit, but it also seemed to slow down the candy consumption a bit.
    -Office mate was super resentful of everyone taking her candy, though she continued to provide it (and always the good stuff- never a hard candy or candy corn in sight). Everyday, long rants about how it was always empty in the morning because the janitors were eating it (until she started hiding it when she went home at the end of the day), how it was only for people in our department and she didn’t like ‘interlopers’ coming over and taking it all, at the same time how the regulars from our department were greedy and took too much and never brought in bags to replenish it… just on and on. I give her the benefit of the doubt that she was just at a BCE point with every aspect of the job because she clearly was really unhappy in her position, with our boss, with her commute, etc. She’s in a new job now and I hope she’s very happy, providing candy to new coworkers that don’t leave her bitter and resentful.

    Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        I’ve realized that there are some people who take a secret pleasure in outrage.

        Reply
        1. MoinMoin

          I’m pretty sure that was it. My last line about hoping she’s happier now is truly felt, but probably not reality. She was always passionately mad about how the most innocuous things affected her and the nefarious reasons why they all happened to her. She manufactured rage like a talk radio host, and I was really relieved that she left before the election really heated up because she had a lot of resentment towards a lot of people and things that were ruining our country. Just draining. The quote about resentment being like holding onto a hot coal, personified.

          Reply
      2. Language Lover

        I guess I have been in that resentful spot. I work with students and occasionally put out a small candy dish. I buy multiple bags and/or big bags of desirable (IMO) candy to stock the candy dish because of the number of students who pass through. It is out of my own pocket and it can get pricey. Anyone working near the dish can go into the kitchenette and stock the dish if it gets low.

        I did seethe when a bag was opened late in the day before we officially started handing out the candy (think waiting for Halloween or Valentine’s Day) and when I came in the next morning, it was half gone. I don’t mind my co-workers opening it up ahead of time and take a piece or two but the candy was mainly meant for students and I resented that someone felt entitled to hog it.

        If they want to hog the candy, then wait until it’s out for public consumption and do it in front of the students, who it was mostly meant for. Don’t take it under the cloak of night.

        But I keep doing it because it only happened like that once and I think the culprit is no longer a coworker. But I would stop if it became a thing.

        Reply
        1. MoinMoin

          I get how one can be resentful- people can be amazingly entitled at times- but you start to lose your right to complain if it’s completely in your power to change the situation and you don’t.

          Reply
      3. Rhys

        I’ve kept a candy dish at my desk for seven years and have been where this lady is. When everything is functioning as normal I’m perfectly happy to provide candy for everybody at my own expense, even though I’m personally not much of a candy person. I started doing it because I was very quiet not prone to socialize when I first started working in an office and it was a way to give a positive impression of myself without having to have any actual conversations with people. And I guess now I’m just in the habit!

        It goes through phases where the candy consumption is pretty normal and I don’t think much about it, but sometimes when a new person joins the team or I move to a new desk suddenly the candy will start disappearing way more quickly and that’s when I get pissed off. I don’t want to deprive everybody of candy just because one jerk is taking more than their fair share, but I also can’t afford to refill the bowl every couple of days (in the seven years I’ve been doing this only TWICE have people brought in candy to contribute to the dish and it was never the worst offenders). It’s also a little tough because my direct manager is a big fan of the candy dish (though she almost never takes more than two pieces in a day) and is always disappointed when it’s empty. We have a good relationship and I know she doesn’t hold it against me but I also don’t really feel like I can just stop completely. Anyway, being the keeper of the candy dish can be complicated.

        Reply
    1. Jillociraptor

      This is so fascinating. I grew up in the midwest, where “going out of your way to do something nice (but unasked for) and then feeling put upon by how people interact with said nice thing” is a regional pastime, and my hypothesis is that the put-upons have a very specific story they’re telling about the purpose of their kind act, and others aren’t playing the correct role. I wonder what Office Mate’s would be…I hear some themes about providing for “our people vs. everyone in the office” in your re-telling, MoinMoin. Wonder if there’s something there…

      We often have extra food in our office from meetings and my suite mate has some very strong opinions about the way in which others take that food. He gets irritated when people DON’T take it and we have to waste it, but he also laughs at how much or how little people take, what they take, etc., so the folks on our floor are sometimes hesitant to partake. Our division houses one of the main food providers on campus (all the student dining is in our area) and I suspect there’s some “no one appreciates how good our services are” that’s part of his attitude.

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        “I grew up in the midwest, where “going out of your way to do something nice (but unasked for) and then feeling put upon by how people interact with said nice thing” is a regional pastime”

        There’s this moment of Zen when someone perfectly describes something you understand on an intuitive level but could never put into words, and I’m having it right now.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          It’s related, I think, to the relationship concept of the “covert contract”: I’m doing this thing in the expectation that you will then do this other thing, but I’m not going to tell you that’s what I’m expecting. (Also usually followed by being put upon.)

          Reply
          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            I think the entire Midwest operates on the concept of the covert contract and feelings of vague, formless obligation.

            Reply
          2. Jillociraptor

            That resonates a lot. I think there’s also a kind of beauty in those moments when everyone is on the same page with shared but unstated meanings and expectations. The little thrill you get with an inside joke, for example. It’s something I experienced a lot growing up, and not so much now that I live in a midsize city in a large metro area.

            Reply
            1. Turtle Candle

              Yes! Yes yes yes. Occasionally when people talk about indirect vs. direct communication cultures, it devolves into “I don’t understand why anyone would ever communicate indirectly when direct communication is so much easier,” and there’s something to be said for that in professional contexts.

              But, and there is a big but here, the reason that indirect communication is so appealing to people who are comfortable with it isn’t just that they default to it. It’s also that it very much plays into exactly what you say: the same pleasure of an inside joke, or being able to say one sentence to your partner or your best friend that sums up a whole huge thing without having to explain it. That’s not something that’s probably productive in a professional context, but in a personal context, it is so very enjoyable.

              I had a college roommate who also grew up communicating indirectly (and we’re both West Coast, not Midwestern or Southern–but I’ve also heard it called “West Coast passive-aggression,” so maybe that isn’t so weird?) and when we were roommates, it was like… we could communicate with each other so much on subtle comments and vague indicators that it was like telepathy. Or like magic. I could just think, “Gee, I wish Emma would take the trash out,” and it would happen! And sometimes I would just sort of know that she wanted me to clean the bathroom and could do it before being asked, which was far better for me personally than having to be asked. Of course it wasn’t actually magic, but we were just so much… on the same page with regard to shades of meaning and body language and so forth that I didn’t even have to say it. And it was delightful.

              Or, me and my mom, we can share the same space with a very few actually stated requests, and it works the same way.

              The reason that people do this is that when it works, it feels really good. And if you grow up in a community where it works more often than not, you do miss its absence when you go elsewhere.

              Reply
              1. Lissa

                This is really really fascinating to me! I don’t know that I have *ever* had that type of communication overall. I am pretty good at picking up when someone is having a particular mood, but rarely why, and I’m one of those people who is very much like “just tell me!” because otherwise there’s a pretty decent chance I’ll have no clue.

                It makes so much sense, and I definitely envy those people who have it.

                Reply
                1. Chinook

                  I have had this with a friend who worked a busy reception desk for accountants during tax season. One look or a motion and we would know exactly what the other wanted and did it. It got so good that, at a company social, I went up to her because I had left me bag and passcard upstairs so I needed hers to go in. I looked at her and said “Can I” and she just bumped her but out so I could grab her passcard from her back pocket. She didn’t even break the animated conversation she was having with others, though they all asked her what the heck was going on and if we were married. Not married, just from almost identical rural, northern backgrounds with extreme work ethics that meant we understood the subtle body language and expectations that seemed to be lost on all our Southern Alberta colleagues.

                  Though I still do resent the day I got a present of good chocolates which I shared with her at the front desk. She took one, bit it in half and said “oh this is the type you like” and gave it back to me to finish. I remember looking at her and blinking in shock. She just asked if she went “too far.” I nodded but ate the other half because a)it was the really, really good specialty chocolate and b)I knew she was healthy. But we finally established the line in our friendship that was not to be crossed.

              2. Franzia Spritzer

                I’m from the West Coast (PNW) “West Coast passive-aggression” is so very real, and I think it manifests differently between Northwest, NoCal and SoCal. As a Northwesterner I’ve made deliberate efforts to not be my normal ol’ West Coast passive aggressive self, (which includes the Seattle Cold Shoulder). We can come off as snarky when that’s not the intention at all. The level of emotional labor I put into countering this behavior has been more than a little stifling. I miss getting away with eyebrow wiggles, finger twirls, incomplete sentences and up-speak (part of the accent), to communicate with people.

                Reply
                1. Turtle Candle

                  Oh yes. I am so comfortable with the Seattle Freeze that I honestly am always a little baffled when people complain about it. I mean, I get why, but the basics of it–“I am very intimate with my friends but want just basic arms-length politeness from everyone else”–is something I’m deeply fluent in. A newsmag called it “polite but not friendly” and I am honestly okay with that. I’m friendly with my friends (often quite friendly!), polite with my acquaintances and with strangers, and… that makes me happy?

        2. Mananana

          Same Zen-like experience going on here, but because of this line: “the put-upons have a very specific story they’re telling about the purpose of their kind act, and others aren’t playing the correct role.”

          I do believe that Jillociraptor just described my relationship with my mom.

          Reply
        3. paul

          My paternal grandmother was a New Mexican born and raised but had that down to an art form.

          There’s a reason there weren’t many speakers at the funeral.

          Reply
      2. Turtle Candle

        Ooh, absolutely yes to “a very specific story…. and others aren’t playing the correct role.” My grandmother (Southern, not Midwestern) was in many ways a lovely woman, but she had a tendency to imagine scenarios in which she got to play a particular generous starring role, and then get angry when it didn’t work the way she’d dreamed it up. One year she was gung ho about having a super-fancy Christmas dinner (she was staying with us for several weeks around Christmas), in which she would magnanimously provide the expensive trappings… and the centerpiece of her imagining was a great big Christmas goose or ham or something like that that she would generously provide for my father (her son) to carve, etc. Problem was, our kitchen was too small: we couldn’t store the kind of eat-for-a-week hunk of meat that she wanted on the table in the refrigerator, or even possibly cook it in our small and somewhat unreliable oven. She got amazingly sulky for a grown woman stymied by simple physics.

        I think my mom had already figured her out, because she tactfully suggested that a bevy of rock cornish game hens would be equally fabulous and impressive (and conveniently could also fit in the fridge/oven), which cheered her right up.

        Reply
        1. hbc

          Ah, my MIL was born southern and moved to the midwest after college, and she took the best of the passive-aggressive martyrdom of both communities and made her own special blend. There is a tale of an egg-based birthday party for her teenage son who hated eggs, and somehow in her retellings she is the victim of him not suddenly overcoming his aversion through sheer force of appreciation or something.

          Reply
      3. Chickaletta

        Oh, interesting take on Midwestern culture. My mom’s side of the family is Midwestern, and there’s a very strong culture of not letting your true feelings show, especially negative feelings. Candydish lady might be using the candydish as a way to show outward hospitality and pleasure to neutralize her real feelings of bitterness and resentment.

        Of course, she may not be Midwestern at all…, this is all hypothetical.

        Reply
        1. Jillociraptor

          I think probably all of us attempt to do this kind of collaborative storytelling! I’ve definitely found myself thinking something like, “I work so hard to make these tasks easy for my colleagues, and they probably STILL won’t do what I asked!” and being both irritated and somewhat satisfied when they do, as expected, fail to complete the thing. Irritated because the thing’s not done, but somewhat satisfied because my story of “I’m the hardest worker and indispensable!” remains unchallenged. I wonder if Candy Dish Lady feels underappreciated generally so she’s creating a context with rules that premeditate that outcome. It might be less about neutralizing, and more about making sure that her self-concept is realized, even though it’s negative. It looks nice, but the actual thing she’s trying to accomplish is to be underappreciated so she has a space to vocalize those feelings that might otherwise not have a space.

          Or, maybe, she just likes to grouse! Sometimes a hat is just a hat, etc.

          Reply
          1. Turtle Candle

            Oh yeah, I definitely do that too. Sometimes if you really dislike someone, it’s more satisfying if they’re mean to you than if they turn around and act pleasantly, because at some point it becomes more enjoyable to be Correct and Justified than it is to be, you know, treated well. I will admit that I have felt this way sometimes: sometimes I wanted someone to go on being unpleasant just so that I could go on feeling righteous indignation. It’s not an attractive trait but it’s very, very human (and at the heart of the bitch-eating-crackers thing, too).

            It reminds me of the This American Life episode “Fiasco,” which starts with a truly hilarious description of a high school production of Peter Pan gone horribly awry. The way it’s described, the audience at first was on the “side” of the production: they wanted it to go well, they were forgiving of mistakes, etc. But at some point, as the disasters piled up, it hit a tipping point and suddenly people just wanted more fiasco. They would have been disappointed if the play had straightened up and turned into something conventionally enjoyable and good. The story they were telling themselves flipped from “I am going to have a pleasant evening seeing Peter Pan/cheer on my kid in the cast/whatever” to “I am witness to a huge and hilarious disaster,” and once they started telling themselves the second story, what they wanted was just more and more disaster. And I can see myself feeling that way, embarrassed as I am to admit it.

            Reply
            1. Jillociraptor

              Ooh yes, that completely resonates. Ugh, the horrible feeling when you were reveling in the unfairness of it all and someone decided to be reasonable! I’ll have to check out that This American Life. Sounds really interesting! I sometimes have those “get the popcorn” moments too.

              Reply
                1. Turtle Candle

                  It is the best. I usually listen to my radio shows and podcasts with headphones on while doing chores, but this one my partner made me stop and put on the main sound system because I kept breaking into gales of laughter. (Great insight into human character AND hilariously funny? Best.)

          2. MoinMoin

            Wow, really interesting points. I think there’s something to your thoughts on creating these unspoken rules of hospitality as self fulfilling prophesies of disappointment (also Chickaletta’s thought about neutralizing internal bitterness with external act of kindness but not quite pulling it off). I also think she was probably just happiest when she was outraged.
            As someone who has also been really unhappy in her job and was assuredly not much fun for my coworkers to be around, I really hope she’s happier now. And I will definitely think about what you’ve said the next time I start getting grumpy about people not doing things like I want when I haven’t actually told them how I want things. Even a conversation about candy dishes can lead to self improvement, I love AAM commenters.

            Reply
  15. Lily Rowan

    In the middle of a job interview years ago, I took a mint out of the closed candy jar on the CEO’s office table. I think she wasn’t actually in the room at the time, and I wanted it for my break in between interviews, but coworkers were HORRIFIED when I told them I had done it after the fact. Obviously it worked out OK, since I got the job, but I almost never took a mint when I actually worked there.

    Reply
  16. the gold digger

    My company has a booth at a trade show in Germany next month. They will have beer as the booth bait.

    I have to go to a trade show in Chicago in April. I will not cross the booth line for just peppermints. (Peppermints! Honestly!) The best booth bait I have seen in my industry was German pastries and chocolate (from a German company) and tarelli from an Italian company.

    Reply
      1. Michele

        I wouldn’t be able to work at that booth. They would find me passed out from too much food and beer within two hours.

        Reply
    1. Cath in Canada

      I went to a clinical conference once where they were giving away champagne and pedometers at some of the booths. I’d only been to research conferences before, where you’re lucky to get anything other than pens and hard candies, so it was quite the revelation.

      Reply
    2. Dee

      When I worked booths at conferences, obviously the candy was the biggest draw. Second to that? Pens. People love free pens.

      Reply
  17. Murphy

    When I first started at my job, a few of us sat in desks/open cube type things going along the length of the office, so lots of people walking by. My boss at the time sat in front of me, and she had a candy dish on the edge of her desk. When she was there, barely anyone took any, unless they had come to talk to her. When she wasn’t there, SO many random people walking by would grab candy. She would have been totally fine with people grabbing random candy, people just wouldn’t do it in front of her.

    Also, sometimes people would eat the candy right there and use my trash can when I wasn’t there, because I would find far more wrappers in there than I had actually produced myself

    Reply
  18. Christina

    There is a known candy-disher in my office, but you have to go to her cubicle (not a central location like reception or something like that). So the interpersonal risk is extremely high.

    Even though I love candy and always partake in other circumstances, I have never once stopped by her cube for candy because I don’t like her! Not only is she not very good at her job, I have heard her make racist comments, and I just can’t bring myself to eat her candy because of it.

    Reply
  19. Pineapple Incident

    My last boss had a Halloween-themed candy jar in her office, but her relationship with the staff was so terrible people would only ever take something from in there when she left for a meeting and didn’t close/lock her office door

    Reply
  20. Katie the Fed

    As an introvert, this is precisely why I don’t have a candy jar. I don’t want to be bothered with mindless small talk about the candy dish every few minutes.

    It reminds me of the time the air conditioning was broken in the room where I was working. Every single person who walked in felt the need to comment on the temperature. STAHHHPPP. It’s not helping.

    Reply
    1. Beancounter Eric

      Yes. So much.

      I don’t want to be particularly approachable – come in, state your business, I will serve you, then please leave. And don’t stand outside my open office door chatting about the new roundabout near you house and how much you don’t like it, how your kids did at spring baseball tryouts, and who won what award on the teevee awards show of the week.

      I’m an accountant, not a social butterfly. This is part of why I don’t have a candy dish on my desk; mice are another reason. They are enough of a problem without candy around for them to become hyperglycemic.

      Reply
    2. Rincat

      Yes!!! My old office was directly across from the women’s bathroom. I HATED IT with the fire of a thousand suns. I kept asking to be moved and was always turned down. For 3 years I endured awkward stares and comments about going to the bathroom. The worst was when it got converted to a single seater, but no outside door lock, so someone made a sign you could put to let people know someone was in there before they entered (it did have a locking stall on the inside). So then people started having comments about that sign. I nearly snapped at one poor maintenance worker who asked me one day, in all seriousness, if I was the bathroom monitor.

      Reply
      1. Adlib

        Been there. Lasted about 5 months in a divisional branch before I went back to full time working from home (now in a different office – I move a lot!). Next to the bathroom is AWFUL, especially when it’s a one-off like that so mostly the field technicians used it. There were full size bathrooms elsewhere in the office, but this one was next to the shop entryway.

        Reply
    3. Zombii

      Re: Discussing the temperature not helping.

      When I was in college (the first time), I worked at a takeaway place. One morning I came to work, and found out some asshole had thrown brick through our main window in the night. It was the cold part of winter, and snowing out, and even though the boss had covered the window with heavy plastic, it was pretty cold until they got someone in there to replace the glass.

      The part that blew my mind was the people that would come into the building, order, sit to wait for their order, and then proceed to complain at us for the entire 10-15 minutes. They told us how cold it was—yeah, we know, that’s why we’re all wearing our winter coats inside. And how uncomfortable it was—again, we know. And how it was bad customer service to keep the building so cold—bitch we know it’s cold, and we have to be here all day, not just the 15 minutes you’re stoically enduring wtf.

      Reply
  21. Germ Phobe

    I would never eat unwrapped candy from a communal dish. Yuck!

    I used to have a candy jar on my desk, and I purposely provided a candy that I didn’t like–starlight mints. That way, I could offer something to passersby without being tempted myself.

    Reply
  22. Amadeo

    This is ironically timely – I work in the web office for a university and am doing some final tweaking on a redesign for the university’s art dept site. My liaison with them just brought me a beautiful handmade bowl from ceramics and a dragon’s hoard worth of candy to fill it with. I have a feeling that not too many people are going to take me up on my ‘please for crying out loud come and get some!” email.

    And now I hope that I’m not pegged by one of my coworkers, LOL

    Reply
  23. Turtle Candle

    This part (about people making critical comments about the candy dish) cracked me up:

    Wansink said people who criticize could be trying to rationalize to themselves why they shouldn’t take the candy. They’re the people who announce that they’re on a diet all the time to make others feel guilty, he said. They could also just be so familiar with the giver that they feel comfortable giving him a hard time; that is definitely the case with Rolo Woman.

    Alternatively, Wenk said, they could just be bad people.

    (As someone who used to have a candy dish, this was the thing that ground my gears. I didn’t mind that nobody else bought a bag–I was doing it totally voluntarily, after all, although I was pleasantly surprised when someone else did occasionally fill ‘er up–and I didn’t mind people taking handfuls or whatever rather than one piece at a time, as long as they weren’t dumping the whole thing in their purse or something. I didn’t mind if someone grabbed a piece on the way past without saying anything to me.

    I did very much mind the one or two coworkers who whined that I never stocked their favorites or said things like “don’t bother with the jolly ranchers, nobody likes those,” though! With that as my backstory, I tend to agree with the “bad people” hypothesis….)

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I copied that Wenk quote to post in case nobody else picked it out. I love food behaviorists. I was glad to see Brian Wansink, who I recommend to everybody and learned about here, being consulted.

      And I’m fascinated to see and realize that amateur food behaviorism is so widespread; a surprising number of us have identified treat-consumption patterns and behaviors in our own workplace.

      Reply
    2. Michele

      I used to be on the board of a local sports club. I stopped doing it because of the whining. People who never volunteered for anything would show up to things that we had organized and complain. We weren’t getting paid, and we were sacrificing our free time, but THINGS WEREN’T PERFECT. So I quit.

      Reply
  24. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    This piece just reminds me of law school! During many lunch times, there were lectures or speakers from various organizations, with excellent catered food. If there were leftovers, the student org putting it on could have them.

    But, there was bad blood between the most conservative campus groups, and the LGBT and pro choice groups (the conservatives even had some speakers from groups designated as SPLC hate groups). So people got really Midwestern passive-aggressive. Knowing people from the sponsoring groups wanted leftovers, members of the politically-opposing or oppressed groups would swoop in on each others’ leftovers the instant the event was over, to keep the people on the other side from having them!

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      Ha. We were straight up Philly aggressive at my law school. I used to chase people down who tried to steal free lunch without sitting through a presentation. I was not ashamed to admit that I would run up to someone who sneaked in for food, and then follow them if they tried to leave the room. I did this to a few non-law students at some public events, mostly for my own entertainment and sense of justice.

      Reply
      1. Nomie

        I have to be food police for the program I work for – we have a few intensive periods in our academic calendar and will feed our students, and I always have to chase people out of line. Always!

        And the kicker is that we almost always have leftovers, and we’ll put those up for grabs every time – we just want to make sure our students eat first.

        Reply
  25. SaviourSelf

    We keep a candy dish in our main bull pen area. One day it disappeared. Our Office Coordinator went to fill it and it wasn’t there. She asked me if I’d moved it, no, she checked with our cleaning staff, no, etc.

    O.C. sets up another candy dish. 2 months pass…

    Just this past Monday, the candy bowl magically reappeared. We have no idea how or why or where it went!

    Reply
      1. EducProf

        I was a staff member at a sleep-away camp for advanced 7-12 students and kept a jar of Hershey Kisses on my desk to tempt campers into talking with me. Part of my job was helping the homesick, so this gave them a good excuse to be seen talking with me.

        One day I came in to work and my jar wasn’t there. Instead there was a picture of it by the outside of my office door with a note saying it was bored and was going on vacation. For the next two weeks I received random pictures of the jar at campus locations with funny notes (it partied with some liquor bottles at a frat house, etc.). Showed back up in two weeks with a note saying it missed me!

        Reply
  26. Delta Delta

    I had a candy dish (actually, a paper origami box that I made out of the recycle bin paper) that I kept full of jelly beans. I had a desk with a tall credenza and a shelf at the top. The dish sat on the shelf. It was just the right height that someone walking by could reach up and take some jelly beans without really bothering me. I discovered that people occasionally slipped dollar bills into the folds of the box so I could keep refilling it without going into my pocket all the time since everyone ate it.

    I really liked that job.

    Reply
  27. BigSigh

    I JUST moved the candy dish from my desk to the office kitchen because of one awkward coworker who wouldn’t interact with me. Everyone would comment on the candy or speak to me for a moment (which I liked), but this one coworkers would awkwardly approach in my blind spot, get too physically close without saying anything, and riffle through the dish–touching every piece (individually wrapped, but still)–before leaving without ever haven spoken to me.

    Reply
  28. Dani X

    I have the office candy dish. It all started when m&m had that contest for the new peanut m&m flavor. I wanted to try them but not eat an entire bag of them all so decided to do the candy dish. Since the m&m has come out with a lot of different flavors and I just buy a bag to try. Cherry is the best. I make it known that if a bowl empties X flavor comes next – I haven’t had a problem with people not wanting to eat the last one.

    Reply
    1. Spoonie

      Clearly I don’t keep up with candy since I totally missed this contest and the whole m&m flavor situation. Unless it’s dark chocolate related, it’s not really my gig. …if I were less of an introvert, I’d probably be an ideal candy dish candidate.

      Reply
  29. Jeanne

    I always kept my own candy in a drawer. Just for me. I wonder what that psychology is. I didn’t want a public candy dish. I’m germ averse.

    Reply
    1. hbc

      That’s really surprising, since those are the candies that look the least professional–Kojak notwithstanding. Did you have a lot of smokers in your office or something?

      Reply
      1. Sparkly Librarian

        They’re individually wrapped and have a practical and sanitary handle, though. And you can stop eating them momentarily if you have to answer the phone.

        Reply
      2. H.C.

        I hope not; it was a medical/healthcare setting, and one that specializes in cancer treatment, too.

        But that could mean there’s a lot of ex- or quitting smokers who needed to satisfy their oral fixations.

        Reply
  30. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

    Random observation: there are certain kinds of candy that one sees in candy dishes….and absolutely nowhere else. Those revolting, waxy Tootsie Pop things that seem to come in cherry, vanilla, and lemon are the first one that come to mind, along with those little strawberry hard candies.

    Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        I’m not going to lie, I find the texture of the tootsies revolting but I always eat about 85 of them when they’re on offer.

        Reply
      2. LCL

        Me too! I can’t be objective about the flavored tootsie rolls, my mom used to give them us when we were small, so I must eat them.

        The candy I have no use for is Jolly Ranchers. Yuck! Who buys them, and who eats them? They not only taste bad, they stink. I hate that mystery apple/melon/what is this flavor.

        Reply
      3. PK

        I love the strawberry hard candies! I’ll admit there is some nostalgia surrounding my grandmother but I genuinely like them.

        Reply
    1. Rincat

      I think it’s because they’re cheap, you can buy that stuff at the dollar store or wherever. Most people don’t want to shell out for the good stuff (chocolate bars, mostly) for a communal dish.

      Reply
      1. CanadianDot

        My go-to was the huge bags of individually wrapped chocolates from costco. They weren’t cheap, but the bag was big enough to fill the bowl several times, and they didn’t get complaints.

        Reply
    2. Squeeble

      Ha! I once saw a comment, on Tumblr or somewhere, observing that no one ever actually buys those little strawberry candies–they just pop up on their own in various places. It feels so true.

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        I’ve certainly never, ever seen them for sale. Maybe they’re actually what dark matter is comprised of.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I need specifics here. Are we talking Jolly Ranchers or the ones with little strawberry-seed dents in them that have a mushy interior under their hard shell? Because in my experience grandparents emit the latter.

          Reply
          1. Squeeble

            I’m thinking of the ones that are soft in the middle. And yes, they are very grandparents-adjacent in my experience too!

            Reply
          2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            The second one, with the mushy interior. And yes, maybe they breed at the bottom of grandma purses.

            Reply
            1. Michele

              I have an irrational fondness for those, but I don’t think I have ever seen them for sale. They seem to just magically appear when old women are around.

              Reply
          3. Turtle Candle

            Oh yeah, the strawberry seed ones with the squashy interior are very much produced by grandparents. Also IME butterscotch candies (the kind in the clear twisty wrapper, not things like Werther’s Originals), and spice drops, although spice drops usually not mixed in with the hard candies but separately. If I’m very lucky, root beer barrels.

            Starlite Mints also appear in proximity to grandparents, but their major breeding ground is of course restaurants.

            Reply
          4. FDCA In Canada

            My office candy dish has a variety of gross candies including mint knockoff Lifesavers, Werther’s, those nasty toffees that are indistinguishable from rocks, and the strawberry candies. But I LOVE the strawberry candies with the hard outside and gooey centre! I love them so much I buy the cough drops that are the same kind–hard outside and gooey medicated inside.

            But now I realize I have no idea where my admin gets them from. Staples with the rest of the supplies, maybe?

            Reply
    3. Emi.

      I’m sorry to say that they also exist–in abundance–on the Hallowe’en circuit in my childhood neighborhood. Waxy vanilla tootsies have no redeeming qualities. I was once given a bunch in a canister that was meant to be reused as a piggy bank. I ate half of them before realizing that (a) I could just throw them away and jump straight to using the bank, and (b) I didn’t actually want a bank shaped like my least favorite candy when I already had one shaped like a mailbox.

      At least Mounds could be swapped to people with worse taste, or donated to Grandma.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        I love both the vanilla candies and Mounds. This thread is really teaching me a lot, mainly A) people are weird, B) I have awful taste in candy.

        Reply
      2. Emilia Bedelia

        Mounds are in the top 5 of my favorite candies, at least.

        For future reference, all Mounds (and Almond Joys while you’re at it) can go to me. You can take all my Skittles.

        Reply
  31. Rincat

    I never thought about the interpersonal risk, but I am aware of it now. I rarely take candy because of such risk. I only took candy from my last department’s dish because it was easy to grab some on your way out the door without having to interact with anyone.

    Reply
    1. Hrovitnir

      Hey, fellow interpersonal risk avoider. I bet you’ll think about it all the time now.

      I am exquisitely aware of all the tiny interpersonal risks of interacting with people ever. It’s… not helpful. (Ie: what happens when you have mood disorders and the inclination to analyse everything to death.)

      Reply
  32. Joa

    I’m the big boss in my office and I keep a bowl of chocolates (individually wrapped) on the corner of my desk, right by the door. I have a theory that a couple of my more timid employees use it as an excuse to come chat about something that is on their mind, like a troubling interaction or an exciting project milestone. Since it is not constant and doesn’t get out of hand, that works for me.

    I do notice that when I am gone, the candy disappears at a much more rapid rate!

    Reply
  33. MechE31

    I used to work in very close proximity to an admin and their candy dish. I worked with a bunch of introverted engineers. Many people would only take candy when the admin wasn’t there. The admin and I used to joke that she could have a full dish for 8 hours, leave for a 30 minute meeting and come back to an empty dish.

    Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          They’re the ones that psych themselves out of biting the surfer because what if it’s not a seal and OH GOD THEY’LL THINK I’M A NERD

          Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      The main candy dish at my last job – a Costco-sized tub of red vines that had been emptied and hung around to hold future offerings – was on a bookshelf at the end of a row of cubes, in no one’s actual “office space” and stocked, at random and when the whim took us, by everyone.

      I once dropped three pounds of mixed chocolate in it and it was completely empty before lunch the next day. (No, I was not surprised.)

      Having it *not* be on anyone’s desk/in their space was, I think, fairly critical to how it was perceived and interacted with. (You did still have to walk down the whole aisle, past six people, to get to it. But it didn’t “belong” to anyone.)

      Reply
  34. LQ

    I have a candy dish. When I started it, it was to encourage people to go stand in the “front” of my cube rather than the side/back part (which was where most people went with most cubes so it was a real retraining effort), and I would actually explain this to people. Food here, stand here, don’t scare me.

    It is harder to not come up behind me so they are in the most “front” part of my cube to encourage people to stand there. There are also toys propped on the bar for fidgeters who don’t snack.

    I’m an introvert and have a tendency to …come off as super bitchy, so this is part of my a little bit softening of my image.

    I don’t keep it full all the time and if it is empty for more than a week someone else usually brings in a bag (and people will leave it on my desk without a name, which I kind of like). There’s no entitlement, no demands of it, if something people don’t like I’ll just let it set in there for a while (or I’ll intentionally buy them to make it last longer).

    Most people do interact, but few people stop by just to get candy, they usually get candy when they are getting something else (there are 2 direct coworkers who are exceptions do this, but they are also the most likely to buy me a bag). (always individual candies, always small sizes – the jars are the ikea spice jar magnetic kind, so they dont’ hold much at all, and out of my (and my coworkers) pockets)

    I love reading about how people interact with the candy jar and candy jar keepers. And I’m loving everyone stories!

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      Oh man. I should put one on the side of my “cube” (it’s really just open and not really a cube) …I’m in a heavy traffic area, so the candy would probably disappear in a second, but my cube has this privacy screen directly in front of me. This makes sense for the other cubes where desks are facing one another, but I’m on the end and facing a popular walkway. For some reason, people don’t come to the side to talk to me where I can actually see them, they stand directly in front of me so I can’t see them approaching and the conversation is like the neighbor Wilson in Home Improvement, except I’m sitting down and they’re looming over me.

      Reply
    2. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      I, too, am a candy bowl “keeper”. I was also the candy jar keeper at Old job. A candy jar/bowl can be a good way to break the ice. Most of the people are very good about giving me “donations” for the bowl. However, the person I sit next to is very intimidated by my candy bowl. Anytime someone comes by, she stops what she’s doing to look and always makes comments. She also tries (and fails) to compete with my bowl. One time she bought candy in but no one went over to her desk. She tried with gum, but that didn’t work either. On occasion, she tries to take over my candy bowl (I had to move it to get it out of her reach). It really is something to see.

      Reply
  35. CanadianDot

    I used to be the keeper of a candy dish, which I had to abandon when I moved from an office of 12 to an office of 50+. I really liked the personal interaction that came along with the candy dish, but the sense of entitlement people sometimes got, getting annoyed if the candy dish was empty when I was buying everything with my own money.

    That being said, the biggest reason I wouldn’t go for the peanut M&Ms in the boss’s mason jar is that they’re unwrapped candy that multiple people are pawing. Yuck!

    Reply
  36. CM

    I thought I was the only one who measured the cost of having to have a social interaction with my desire for candy (or whatever). This goes beyond the candy dish for me, to things like “I really wanted a granola bar too, but I just chatted with the cafeteria person when paying for my other stuff, and if I go back they will know and I’ll have to talk to them again.”

    Old job: People only took from the candy dish when they were in my office already for some other reason… except when I left for the night, the contents of the candy dish would plummet. I stopped putting out candy because I didn’t like the idea of people going into my closed-door office when I wasn’t there.

    New job: Did somebody say introverted engineers? It’s rare that anybody comes into my office, and I can count on one hand the number of times somebody actually took a piece of candy.

    Reply
      1. CM

        There’s somebody at the coffeepot. Keep walking and pretend like I was on my way somewhere else, then circle back later.

        Reply
  37. PinkCupcake

    At my last job, my immediate manager was one of the most annoying know-it-alls you could ever imagine. It was not uncommon for what should be a 10 second social interaction with her to stretch into a 30+ minute lecture/monologue about whatever topic she was into that day. She put a candy dish on her desk. I just loved watching people cruise by to see if she was in her office or not to get at that candy. If she was in there they would keep going. If she had stepped out for a meeting, they would sneak into her office and grab a handful. And then give me a knowing wink and smile as they came back out. Thinking of that candy dish still warms my heart to this very day.

    Reply
    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      Swooping in for some candy….boss is there! NEGATIVE GHOSTRIDER THE PATTERN IS FULL

      Reply
  38. Lady Julian

    Interesting! The part about the M&Ms caught my eye. I will help myself to the M&Ms from colleagues’ jars, but never from my boss’s jar. In both cases, the M&Ms are positioned so that the person offering watches me take some, but I’m more uncomfortable with my boss watching me take M&Ms than with my colleagues doing so.

    Plus, the one time I did take M&Ms from my boss’s jar, the dispenser glitched and spit M&Ms out all over the floor, which was super-embarrassing. I haven’t wanted to risk it again!

    Reply
  39. Language Lover

    My friend once brought in hundreds of chocolate covered pretzels for a potluck. At the end of the day, there was one pretzel left in the large bowl. No one took it even though they could have done so without being seen.

    Such an interesting phenomenon.

    Reply
  40. Lady Julian

    My office is in a hallway with other teachers’ offices along the hallway. At the end of the hallway is a student recruiters’ office. I know that late at night, the student recruiters will help themselves to the candy outside my office. I took the suggestions from the weekend open thread a bit back and this week I’ve been offering Caramel Creams. They’re really popular! I need to restock soon. :)

    Reply
  41. Lady Julian

    Oh, and one more story. I once had the candy dish on the corner of my desk, instead of in the hallway. I had a student in for a conference about his paper, and at the time, I had a mix of Kit Kats and (wrapped) mini Reese’s Cups in the jar. My student literally had *seven* Reese’s cups in the space of about 10-15 minutes. I finally had to politely ask him to stop eating them, so I could have some for my other students! :)

    Reply
  42. Snowglobe

    Slightly off topic, but my favorite moment of the Oscars last night was Meryl Streep grabbing a box of Junior Mints at a break. She’s just like us!

    Reply
  43. Amber Rose

    Ever so slightly off topic: I am dying of laughter reading these comments. I can hardly breathe. You folk are awesome.

    I’m tempted to set up a candy dish on my desk now.

    Reply
    1. Michele

      I am tempted to set up an experiment where I move the candy dish around my office. First it will be on the bookcase by the door so people can just grab some as they walk by. Then it will go the bookcase along the wall so they have to come in, but not too far in. Next, my desk. Finally, I would position it in the window sill behind my desk. I hypothesize that no one will get candy when I am in my office, but when I am in the lab, the dish will be emptied. Heck, if I take good notes, I bet I could get this published.

      Reply
    2. Rincat

      I kind of want to do this too! And see how many people/what kinds of people take from the dish if I keep moving it further and further back into my cubicle.

      Reply
  44. Junior Dev

    The moralizing comments — “oh I shouldn’t [grabs candy],” “but I’ve been so good!” –would irritate me. I worry about someone like the LW who had an eating disorder and was triggered by weight loss competitions having to overhear that sort of comment. Even if it’s not tied to a mental health disorder, I can’t be the only one who doesn’t like public displays of food moralizing. Just eat the darn candy or don’t, I don’t need to hear a speech about how baaaaaad you are for eating it.

    Reply
    1. Squeeble

      Oh, I’m with you 100%. I don’t blame anyone for having a weird guilt thing about sweets, but I really don’t care if you eat a Reese’s or not.

      Reply
    2. MegaMoose, Esq

      I once inherited a candy dish and stopped refilling it exactly because of these comments. I have a really hard time not responding to that kind of comment, even though I know it’s not work getting into. Somewhat annoyingly, the table near me in my current open office has become a bit of an impromptu repository for when people bring bags of candy in because I’m known not to have a sweet tooth and all the people by the other available spots did the “oh no, I’ll eat it all if you put it by me!” thing.

      Reply
  45. I'm a tailor's apprentice

    I had a candy dish for about 2 days and then the constant stream of people drove me crazy and I just let the dish empty and never filled it again. I now put it in my locked office drawer.

    Every November I bring in my kids Halloween candy, a few fistfuls at a time. I put some in the candy dish at the front reception desk for others to enjoy and put a few of my favorite pieces in my drawer to enjoy over a few days. I had to lock my drawer after I caught a co-worker going through it looking for my candy. I had thought that my candy supply was going fast in my drawer but had no reason to believe that anyone would be stealing it from my private desk drawer. Apparently I was wrong…and she acted like I was the crazy person when I was upset to find her going through my stuff. I heard from another co-worker that she told them that she was looking for the “good stuff” because she didn’t like the candy I had put in the dish for everyone. FWIW, I put the good stuff in the dish, it just went quickly.

    Reply
  46. MegaMoose, Esq

    Last week my team had an impromptu experiment on Girl Scout cookies. I bought five different boxes and left them out on Monday. There were never more than two boxes open at the same time – people would wait for one box to empty before opening another – and apparently you have to be desperate to eat peanut butter patties, because those didn’t get touched until all four other boxes were empty. I took the last one after lunch today.

    Reply
    1. Althea

      That’s so weird, I love the peanut butter ones. Caramel Delights, Thin Mints, then the peanut butter ones. I don’t even know what the rest are.

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        Yeah, I don’t know! The team’s preference was very clearly lemonades, caramel delights, tagalongs, thin mints, and finally peanut butter. I think the lemonades may have won on novelty, but they were pretty tasty.

        Reply
    2. ZNerd

      Tagalongs (aka peanut butter patties) would NEVER survive around me. Which might be why I’d hesitate to grab one, actually. They are like potato chips (can’t just have one!), so I imagine I’d be caught stuffing a handful in my mouth as I scurry around the corner…. no wait, that’s just at home.

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        My bad, I meant peanut butter sandwiches (no chocolate) were the unpopular ones. The tagalongs (peanut butter with chocolate) went pretty fast. I am not up on my cookie names.

        Reply
      2. Emmie

        I inhale them. From the freezer. Dipped in cool whip. I have major problems. I even thought of getting a sign for my home door that says “no solicitation unless you have Girl Scout cookies.”

        Reply
  47. Althea

    I used to keep a bowl of Werther’s hard candies, because I like them but won’t pig out on them. And I like sharing food with people.

    My boss, when he came to town, would share my office and eat all of them. Then he said he was sorry and would replace them. He would then buy his favorite chocolates, eat all of them, then buy 4 more bags of chocolates, and leave town. So I was left with multiple bags of candy that I would absolutely pig out on. Then I decided it was in my best interest to do away with the bowl.

    The thing I didn’t get about it, was that he was diabetic.

    Reply
  48. Farrah Sahara

    Alison, I once worked at a company with a not so nice female executive. She was actually told to put a candy dish on her desk to make her seem more “approachable”, and that it would help to “sweeten her image” (these are all direct quotes).

    This was as recent as 2009. She chose to put a very expensive cut crystal bowl on her desk, filled with mini Kit-Kats and Snickers bars. Didn’t work: she was still a bitch.

    Reply
  49. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

    I had a candy basket on my desk at my last job. It actually really helped when I needed something from someone in another department. People knew that the sooner they brought things to me, the sooner they could get some candy. And I may have threatened coworkers with a candy ban if something I needed was overdue. ; )

    Reply
  50. Purple Jello

    I went into our VPs office this afternoon, took TWO Lindt wrapped chocolates out of his bowl, and said “Hi, I’m just here for the candy”, but then remembered something I needed to tell him. Most people won’t go in for candy if he’s in there, even though he tells everyone it’s okay.

    I never knew not taking the last piece wasnt’ done until I was in my late 20s. I would look or ask around to see if anyone wanted any, but otherwise… fair game!

    At Last Job, I had a candy dish for a while. I was always amazed at the people who would complain about what was in it without offering to fill it. I’ve always worked somewhere that either the company filled the bowl, or multiple people brought in bags of money or left cash. When I got tired of filling the bowl, I just let it go longer before refilling, until one day the bowl just “disappeared”.

    It’s kind of like the coffee pot: when the positive effect of smelling the ground coffee as I open the bag is outweighed by my annoyance of finding yet another empty pot, I switch to tea: we even have hot water on tap, so I don’t have to microwave it.

    Reply
  51. ST

    When I was running a department (that was more folks than my current department of me) I used to keep candy in a nice wooden box that my Dad made. Everyone knew that it was full of candy for everyone, but if the lid was on it no one would open it to take any.

    Also, I tended to fill it with the weird candy that only I liked: candy corn, those peppermint Christmas candies that my grandmother always had (Brachs Christmas nougats http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4149/5223147890_e9293bc629.jpg, those Easter eggs that are theoretically marshmallow (http://www.candywarehouse.com/assets/item/regular/brachs-wrapped-marshmallow-easter-eggs-candy-ff-125289-w.jpg), and plain old Xmas hard candy (the kind that ends up as one giant blob in a week or so).

    Reply
  52. cherrysours

    Many eons ago I worked in a nice office, perhaps 50 people total, but only 8 or so in my section of it. There was a candy jar on the top of the file cabinet, and anyone who walked by was welcome to help themselves. Those who did generally removed the lid, held the jar so a few fell into their open hand, and returned the jar to it’s place before putting the lid back on with their free hand. No set person who would refill it, just whoever happened to walk past the candy department of our store first. I was usually the last one in the office, and would fill it before I left for the day (everyone else usually departed before me), but never let on that I was the imp. Took a month or more before I was caught in the act. :)

    Reply
  53. Ferd

    Very interesting.
    Where I work some people bring cake on their birthdays. And nobody ever takes the last piece. I’m too paranoid to take any piece, even when someone says “Dude, have some cake”.
    Because that means I have to socialise with humans.

    Reply

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