the thief and the hero, the crockpot discrimination, and other stories of potlucks at work

Here are 12 more of my favorite stories you shared about potlucks and other food gatherings at work earlier this month. (Part one was yesterday.)

1. The cook-off

“We had a chili cook-off and the winner admitted she didn’t make the chili. She got it from Wendy’s.”

2. The sushi

“Before he retired, my spouse worked in a unit that LOOOOVED their potlucks. They’d happily leverage any excuse – or no excuse at all – to have a full-on potluck for the entire division to enjoy, and the bragging rights for whose dish got consumed fastest were hotly contested.

For one potluck, Trudy announced to everyone that she would be bringing in home-made sushi as her contribution. Sushi is a very popular item in our part of the country, and Trudy was happily and confidently expecting to take top honors as having brought the most popular potluck item.

The day of the potluck arrived, and everyone crowded around Trudy as she proudly revealed her carefully prepared delicacy. Because sushi!!

Well. There is sushi, and then there is ‘sushi.’

Trudy’s potluck contribution was string cheese and raw hotdogs wrapped in sushi rice and Nori (the dried seaweed used for sushi), and sliced into pretty little rolls.

Trudy was both baffled and deeply offended that her contribution went largely untouched throughout the potluck. She just could not understand why everyone preferred pulled pork sandwiches to her wonderful homemade ‘sushi.’ And she never forgave my spouse for taking top honors for his pulled pork, the most popular item at that potluck.”

3. The overthrow

“I worked at a company where the office manager took potlucks VERY SERIOUSLY. She had a system of releasing the items required for the potluck by email at 10 am a week before. You would reply as fast as possible ‘claiming’ one item. Available items would be, like, 2 bottles of white wine, 2 bottles of red wine, buns, 2 salads, 3 meat items, 3 desserts, etc. The idea was that we would have a ‘balanced’ potluck with just the right amounts of each kind of food. And she was pretty adamant that we not bring store-bought items.

Well, there were a good many young people, and many busy people, who had no interest in cooking/baking and wanted to bring buns or alcohol. And often we’d be the last to reply to the email and end up with a meat dish, which is more difficult.

Eventually complaints about the strictness of the system led to her having a temper tantrum and refusing to coordinate any longer. So the next potluck was a ‘free for all’ (or true) potluck. That potluck, she pouted and would not come out of her office and we FEASTED on cheeseburgers, fries, pizza, a rotisserie chicken, SO MANY BUNS and SO MUCH ALCOHOL. It was great. Everyone but the office manager found it highly entertaining (and literally intoxicating).

After that, someone else took over organizing, and had a similar but far more lenient system – if someone was passionate about bringing buns, but already 2 people had signed up, then they said, yeah, let’s have lots of buns. And there were plenty of people who were willing to cook entrees or bake desserts and still someone would bring a bag of cheeseburgers and we all enjoyed it. I have fond memories of those potlucks. It was a terribly dysfunctional company filled with wonderful people.”

4. The thief and the hero

“At a temp secretarial job back in the day, the owner had a buffet set up for the employees as an appreciation lunch for completing a particular project (which was why I was there to temp since it was an all-hands/emergency situation). One of the very well-paid senior employees took an entire tray of meatballs and an entire tray of pasta off of the buffet line, after the managers/seniors went, but before any of the other employees, who had to take a slightly later lunch that day. When called on it, he said that he needed it to feed his kids for the week – and the owner said if the only way he could feed his children was by stealing from his job and taking food from lower-paid employees, he was welcome to it. But the owner would be accompanying him to the food stamp office to apply or reporting him to CPS if he refused, because feeding his children should be his first priority and if his children could only be fed by stealing, that wasn’t something that could be ignored. It turned into a public argument about how the owner was shaming him for liking expensive things and needing a little help sometimes. Ended up as the employee’s last day.”

5. The potato salads

“I worked for a congregation for a while that refused to plan their potlucks, everybody just showed up with what they wanted to bring and ‘it all worked out in the end!’

Until the potluck that shall live in infamy, because that was the potluck with, I counted, 14 kinds of potato salad! About three main entrees, and a couple of jello salads for dessert, and other than that it was just all potato salad as far as the eye could see. After that one, they started planning their potlucks and having sign up sheets for bringing entrees versus side dishes versus dessert.”

6. The shrimp and grits

“I used to work in an elementary school, and one of the teachers was proud of his shrimp-and-grits. Like, really REALLY proud. When I started working there (months before the potluck) he started telling me how it’s a tradition and everyone loves his grits. Then leading up to it, he was talking about making his grits. Then during it he was making sure everyone tried his grits. He appeared to be convinced that his grits were the entire raison d’etre for the potluck. And there’s no polite way to say, ‘Actually the grits are good but nobody cares that much,’ so of course I ended up playing into it with, ‘Mm-hmm, yes, very delicious!'”

7. Crockpot discrimination

“Years ago the floor manager banned crockpots from the work floor where teams would use an empty cubicle for team birthdays and celebrations due to ongoing issues. Fast forward a few months; a team brings in a crockpot for an event. An outraged employee approached me yelling that it wasn’t fair the other team could have crockpots and hers couldn’t. She looked me in the eye and completely seriously told me, ‘This is crockpot discrimination!'”

8. The cakes

“My office used to host a huge Octoberfest party for all of our clients and while they catered the actual food, dessert was a chance for the employees to bring a dish if they wanted. One of my coworkers took off two full days to bake cakes … multiple three-layer cakes … making our small department under-staffed. She would always make a big deal about the cakes and how delicious everyone thought they were. They were not. Inevitably, there were one or twice slices taken from each cake but 90% of the cakes were left uneaten, and I was (and clearly still am!) salty that I was left to cover her desk while she baked these *so delicious* cakes.”

9. The salsa

My coworker used to bring her ‘famous salsa’ to every potluck. It was just three different brands of store-bought salsa mixed together. She even made a (completely serious) production of preparing it in the kitchen, like she was Julia Child. Pro tip: The trick was to ‘fold’ the salsa to get the best flavor.”

10. The deviled eggs

“A few years back, my employer held a Thanksgiving potluck. It was my first year there, and my first potluck with this company. A coworker (an older lady nearing retirement) mentioned several times to several people that she’s be bringing her ‘famous’ deviled eggs, claiming they’re always in high demand. Seemed legit, right? Potluck day arrived and she made a point to tell me to grab a deviled egg before they ran out. I didn’t notice them at first because they did not look like traditional deviled eggs — they were … bright yellow? And flat on top?? I was very confused, but her enthusiasm sold me. I added one to my plate, and thankfully she left the room before I took a bite because as it turns out, her ‘famous deviled eggs’ were just hard-boiled eggs cut in half with mustard on top.”

11. Another hero

“There is a very famous deli/bakery in my town. Their goods are highly prized and it’s always special when an employer orders from them for staff.

Pre-pandemic, my larger division moved to new office space and the building management ordered trays of brownies from there to welcome us. My physical office was near the kitchen and I witnessed someone from another group walk by with the entire tray that had been put out for the whole floor and carry it back to his desk. There were probably at least 75 brownies on it. Soon I heard everyone being very confused that we were promised brownies and there were none to be had. This lead to people from our floor going to other floors to find brownies, which caused its own drama.

Finally, when I saw the same guy walk past my office again on his way to a meeting, I ran to his cube, grabbed the tray, and placed it back in the kitchen for everyone to enjoy as intended.”

12. The pie drama

“During our first annual Pi Day Pie Contest, people were asked to bring in a pie to share and the best would win a prize (an elaborately decorated pie tin that is still lurking in our office and gets passed around each year).

That was it. That was all the info and all the rules provided. Being an office full of apparently chaos loving maniacs, we had multiple normal pies, some homemade and some store-bought masquerading as homemade, at least one pizza, and a tray of meat pies (pasties).

The event organizers were not amused as store-bought pies, pizza, and non-dessert pies were OBVIOUSLY disqualified as not being in the spirit of the contest. Except at no point had the ‘rules’ said anything about pies being dessert and homemade only. And so started a showdown of truly epic proportions.

Eventually it was agreed for this, the first year, all pies would be considered. But detailed rules as to what constituted a pie were negotiated for all subsequent years culminating in them having to be dessert and in a pie tin. Store bought were still allowed – for reasons – but had to be labelled as such.

In year two we had at least one cheesecake as some people insisted on pushing the boundaries of what constitutes pie.”

{ 529 comments… read them below }

  1. Water Snake*

    I was curious as to whether this is A Thing, and I googled cheese and hotdog sushi. Apparently, yes, it is A Thing, and there are multiple recipes for it along with a Reddit thread titled Hotdog Sushi is a War Crime.

    So there it is.

    1. Water Snake*

      Did a little more goggling, and apparently hot dog sushi has its roots in Korean kimbap. Don’t know where the cheese came from, I’m side-eyeing that a little.

      I’d try it, but I’m culinarily adventurous. Plus, I love hotdogs. :)

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Actually, this would not surprise me, given the adoption of Spam in Korean home cooking.

        However, if I were bringing this I would not tell everyone I was bringing sushi. Ok, and I wouldn’t bring it because it seems like one of those weird things you love at home but don’t admit in public.

        1. SleeplessKJ*

          There’s no such thing as raw hot dogs. They are all pre cooked. She probably meant cold/not boiled or grilled to heat up.

          1. Anon+Supervisor*

            Was just going to say this. They’re not raw. I still wouldn’t eat a cold hotdog, though. Blargh.

      2. Budgie Buddy*

        Omg I also immediately thought “why not just call it gimbap?” Too much watching of Attorney Woo

        1. Mandrake Root*

          Probably it’s an American adaptation (of a Korean adaptation), and Americans largely don’t get gimbap vs sushi.

      3. Delta Delta*

        Related – if you ever get a chance to have a Korean corn dog/hot dog, absolutely try one. It’s an adventure and a delicious hot dog all at once.

      4. Goldenrod*

        “I’d try it, but I’m culinarily adventurous. Plus, I love hotdogs. :)”

        Me too! I’d actually be into it.

        1. Maggie*

          A Korean corn dog place just opened near me. I need to check it out because they look amazing. The signature corn dog is a hot dog (the place near me advertises Kosher beef hot dogs) in corn batter, rolled in chopped up french fries or hash browns and fried again.

      5. Tasteless Sushi War Crimes*

        Sushi is Japanese. Hot dog sushi is Korean. If hotdog Sushi is a war crime, well, the Japanese have historically given Korea PLENTY of motivation for committing one.

    2. Presea*

      I mean, Spam* sushi exists, hot dog sushi seems like a natural-ish extension of that, even if it does feel like a crime against traditional sushi. It’s the string cheese I’m questioning more… a nicely flavored sausage and some cucumber and avocado or something could have been tasty and borderline authentic, if unusual.

      *The canned ham, not junk mail

      1. Bookworm*

        If I was at this potluck I think I’d be kind of relieved she went with a sushi containing cooked and relatively forgiving (from the standpoint of food safety) ingredients, even if they were a little unorthodox. I would be very worried about the preparation and transportation of raw fish sushi to an office potluck…

      2. LunaLena*

        To be fair, Koreans add mozzarella or processed cheese to a lot of dishes that don’t sound good with cheese, and it’s surprisingly good. It’s a common thing to add to gimbap, tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and even ramen. When I was in school in Korea back in the 90s, it wasn’t uncommon for kids to have a slice of processed cheese in their lunchboxes. It was usually put on top of rice and eaten with the rest of the meal.

    3. Pants*

      Team War Crime. Though I think we need a new moniker because war crimes are a bit more terrible.

      Crime Against Humanity, perhaps?

          1. Water Snake*

            I went back to read the thread, and it was actually titled This Hotdog Sushi is a Culinary War Crime :)

      1. ADidgeridooForYou*

        Technically Spam + rice + seaweed is a Asiatic/Oceanic invention :) Just sounds like it would be American.

    4. Hills to Die on*

      So maybe that’s why she really appeared to believe it was sushi. I always thought that sushi must contain fish but maybe that’s not the case? I guess?

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Nope! Sushi must contain sushi rice. You can have sushi with other stuff, even very traditional sushi: tamagoyaki is Japanese omelette (eggs beat with soy and mirin and folded), often served as nigiri sushi on top of sushi rice or as maki sushi in a roll. But if I were doing something outside of what you’d expect to see in a sushi restaurant, I’d probably specify it as “I’m making hot dog sushi” or “I’m making pepperoni sushi” or whatever.

        1. SemiAnon*

          Yes, but keep in mind sushi rice has been cooked and then mixed with rice vinegar as it cools, so I rather doubt this qualified.And sashimi (pieces of raw fish on their own) isn’t actually sushi, because there’s no rice.

          Also, a lot of the classic western style sushi-maki (rolls) like California rolls, dynamite rolls, Philadelphia rolls etc. are delicious, but not particularly Japanese. I’ve had the experience of explaining the concept of tempura inside a sushi roll to someone fresh from Japan, to an expression of (very polite) horrified disbelief.

          As others have said, this would be more likely to qualify as half-assed version of gimbap, which is also delicious, but definitely not sushi.

    5. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Coming here to mention kid-friendly ‘dessert sushi,’ potentially also a culinary war crime (I like it but YMMV). You flatten out some rice krispie treats (the sushi rice substitute), lay down some gummi bears/other soft fruit-based candy on top in a line (filling), and wrap it all up in fruit roll-ups (nori substitute) and cut into cute little rolls. Easy and fun, but yeah, not sushi in any real way.

    6. AJoftheInternet*

      I was hoping for “Lutheran Sushi” a popular potlock item in the midwest. It’s pickles wrapped in cream cheese and ham. It looks *horrible* but is surprisingly tasty.

  2. KHB*

    It’s not work-related, but #5 reminds me of a story from a social group I belong to that has regular potlucks. One time (before my time), everybody who attended brought chocolate cake. The host whipped up a quick salad to have at least something that wasn’t dessert, but other than that, it was chocolate cake and more chocolate cake.

    They laugh about it to this day, and they still don’t do anything to try to coordinate who brings what. As they explained it to me: It’s one meal out of your life, and eating six different kinds of chocolate cake for dinner just once isn’t going to hurt anybody. I like these people.

    1. NeedRain47*

      At OldJob, we had one organized potluck a year, that was actually meant to be a meal. The rest were free for all. Sometimes it was all bags of chips and sometimes a variety of homemade goodies. No one ever suffered any fate worse than being sleepy after consuming so many carbs.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Something like that happened at a large family reunion, but it was pasta salad. We had grilled chicken and 7 kinds of pasta salad. No dessert. Thankfully my mom had a box of brownie mix she could make quick but that wasn’t much for everyone there.

      I like pasta salad ok but then you felt obligated to try a bit of each. So most of the pasta salads were barley eaten because people were just taking a bit of each.

    3. nobadcats*

      Reminds me of the first chapter of “Witches Abroad” by Sir Terry Pratchett.

      “It was about as bare as a mountain could be.
      Most of the trees gave out about halfway to the top, only a few pines hanging on to give an effect very similar to the couple of pathetic strands teased across his scalp by a baldie who won’t own up.
      It was a place where witches met.
      Tonight a fire gleamed on the very crest of the hill. Dark figures moved in the flickering light. The moon coasted across a lacework of clouds. Finally, a tall, pointy-hatted figure said, “You mean EVERYONE brought potato salad?””

      Rest in peace you mad, wonderful writer.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I love Terry Pratchett about as much as I hate potato salad. (I actually do like the warm versions, but they often aren’t vegetarian, so are inedible to me.)

  3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I want to work in a place that the biggest drama is people pushing the boundaries of what constitutes pie.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      A refrigerator cheesecake is frequently known as a cream cheese PIE. I can see baked cheesecake being a bit of a stretch, but a fridge cheesecake is in a pie crust and tin and totally counts. And if it doesn’t count, then you can’t have any of my key lime pie – which is basically a refrigerator cheesecake that’s been baked for ten minutes first to set the egg yolks. :P

      1. Phony Genius*

        I don’t accept that key lime pie is cheesecake. My proof? I love key lime pie and hate cheesecake.

        1. Water Snake*

          Key lime pie is not cheesecake. My proof: key lime pie is made with sweetened condensed milk; cheese cake is made with cream cheese.

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                Cheesecake is a pie. Boston cream pie is a cake. These desserts are just trying to gaslight you.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        I would definitely not push a cheesecake off my, er, table edge, even under the label “pie”.

        1. action kate*

          that sounds amazing and I cannot find anything even resembling it on Google! You don’t have to share the recipe if it’s some kind of family secret, but can you explain further what it is?

    2. Xavier Desmond*

      As a northern Brit I would be outraged if someone said to me a meat pie isn’t a ‘real pie’.

      1. Koifeeder*

        My dad makes a guinness meat stew pie and I will die on this hill that it’s a real pie (and really delicious).

        1. Citra*

          I use Murphy’s Irish Stout for my steak-and-stout pie; IMO it’s superior to Guinness for that purpose (although I’ll use the Guinness Extra Stout if I can’t find Murphy’s).

          It certainly is a real pie, and it’s fantastic. One of my and my family’s absolute favorite dishes.

          I also use stout for any beef stew or braise, with the exception of actual beef bourguignon. Use stout instead of red wine in your pot roast or stew once, and you will never go back.

      2. UKDancer*

        Meat pies are definitely pies. What else would they be? Nothing beats a good pork pie cold or a hot meat pie with veg. I’m also of northern origins and would defend the inclusion of meat pies

        1. workswitholdstuff*

          I love a nice cold pork pie (Melton Mowbray if possible). The weird people up here in Yorkshire have them hot though and it baffled me the first time I saw it (but then they also called bread-rolls teacakes, when I know the right name is a cob….)

          I love savoury pies

            1. workswitholdstuff*

              Hee. Yorkshire?

              (I’ve got used to it now after the first ‘but teacakes have fruit in them?’ reaction)

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Co-signed, another Brit.

        Chicken, ham and leek, please, with a bit of grainy mustard lurking in the gravy, and some comedy pastry shaping on the top.

      4. Bookworm*

        I agree that the “no savory pies” rule is unnecessarily strict. Judge them in two separate categories if you must, but it’s nice to have some variety in this kind of spread and not spend the afternoon in first a sugar high and then the resulting crash.

        1. workswitholdstuff*

          A nice Scotch pie if you want a savoury meat pie. Or, food of the gods – a Macaroni Pie.

          (I miss living in Edinburgh – Macaroni pies were much easier to find up there).

          1. kicking-k*

            Snap! Two comments on macaroni pie, who’d have thought it?

            My mother, a lifelong Edinburgh resident, claimed the other week that she had never heard of macaroni pie. She has been missing out.

              1. kicking-k*

                Sorry to disappoint you. Just salt. I don’t like salt’n’sauce either and have sometimes had to be REALLY quick to stop the chip-shop person dousing my chips.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          Pennsylvania Dutch heritage here, and corn pie is a delicious, savory delight. And clearly a pie.

      5. A Becky*

        Cheese and potato pie! It’s literally cheesy mashed potato put in a pie dish and toasted. My dad really liked it back in the year (still does I would assume) so we’d have it for dinner every couple of months.

      6. Fiorinda*

        As an Australian, so would I. Meat pie is the *default* form of pie; anyother kind needs to be specified!

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah my brain goes immediately to savoury/meat when I think ‘pie’.

          I also do not and will never understand Americans calling pizzas ‘pies’.

          1. Jaid*

            “Americans call a pizza a pie because the “tomato pie” was one of the first kinds of pizza served in the United States. The tomato pie is usually square, with a thick focaccia-like crust and is topped with tomato sauce and sprinkled with a few other seasonings.

            The tomato pie was first referenced in a 1903 edition of the New-York Tribune:

            “Pie has usually been considered a Yankee dish exclusively, but apparently the Italian has Invented a kind of pie. The ‘”pomidore pizza,” or tomato pie, is made in this fashion. Take a lump of dough, and, under a roller, flatten it out until it is only an inch thick. On this scatter tomatoes and season plentifully with powdered red pepper. Then bake the compound. “Salami pizza,” or bologna pie is made with this under layer of dough and a combination of tomatoes, cheese, red pepper and bologna.”

            New-York Tribune, 1903

            This article spoke about the foods Italian immigrants prepared and ate in the East Side of NYC generally, but likely applied to Italian immigrant communities all over the US at the time.

            You can see in this article that what the article is referring to as a pie is actually pizza, or a “pomidore pizza” as the article calls is. It makes sense that outside observers of Italian cuisine would call an unfamiliar round food a “pie” rather than the Italian immigrants calling it a pie themselves.

            Naturally, Italian-born immigrants continued calling the food exactly what they always had – a pizza. But their English speaking descendants obviously took some liking to the term “pie” and that’s how it became popularized up until today.”

            From Domenic’s House of Pizza

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I want them to put this on their resumes: Redefined the boundaries of what constitutes pie.

    4. yala*

      I’d get pretty salty in a quick-fast hurry if someone said that meat pies aren’t pies and don’t count, even though odds are I would’ve brought in pecan.

      1. Elenna*

        Yeah, I’d have brought in apple (and then we would have gotten to debate if apple crumble without a crust counts as pie – apparently not, by these rules) but savoury pies are definitely pies. I understand not wanting to judge them in a contest with sweet pies, it’s kind of hard to compare, but maybe separate categories?

        1. Elenna*

          Also for Pi Day once I had a pie-only meal – shepard’s pie, quiche, apple crumble, and pecan pie. It was delicious.

          1. Gyne*

            Right? That is the entire point of pi day. Can every course of every meal be a pie, and also be a widely accepted food item? (I.e. quiche for breakfast, Cornish pasty for lunch, shepherd’s pie for dinner with apple pie for dessert? And maybe a few empanadas for snacks throughout the day? Then and only then are you celebrating the holiday appropriately.

            1. kicking-k*

              My children would adore this. I have had to alter meal planning sometimes because it was too many pie courses, but on Pi Day

              Of course as we are in the UK we would have to have it on 22 July not 14 March.

            1. pandop*

              That would rule out most of the sweet pies in that competition!

              And also, quite rightly, stew with a puff pastry oval slapped on top

    5. Bee*

      This is also exactly in the spirit of a Pi Day celebration! The only requirements are that it must be circular and called pie (which is why I don’t believe cheesecake qualifies, sorry to those people).

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I often make cheesecake in a circular pie dish, and I’ll call it whatever I feel like calling it. So it can totally be pie.

    6. Phony Genius*

      We haven’t even considered whoopie pie, Edy’s pie (formerly Eskimo), shepherd’s pie, Scooter/Moon pie, or Boston cream pie (which is really a cake).

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        And a base. British people get cross when pubs and restaurants sell “pies” that turn out to be stew with a lid.

        1. PA Dutch Girl*

          You should visit parts of Pennsylvania where our traditional Chicken Pot Pie has neither base nor lid. ;-)

          I swear, I was probably in my 20s before I encountered a “pot pie” with base, crust, lid — and all I could think was that the restaurant had some weird chef who was trying to be clever by pretending pot pie should look like an actual (dessert) pie.

          May every culture establish its own definitions of pie! Let pie chaos rule!

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I believe that’s an older version of pie. And the lid was called a “coffin” once upon a time.

          2. kicking-k*

            So what makes it pie if it has no crust or lid? (I’m vegetarian, British, and have no real conception of what a pot pie would be. I’d always imagined a pastry pie baked in a ceramic pot.)

            1. PA Dutch Girl*

              It’s weird to everyone not from this very small region, I’ve found! It’s basically a stew — chicken stock, chicken (or turkey, post-Thanksgiving), veggies (although not many, we’re not a veg-heavy people), maybe potatoes. And then you add these thick, doughy noodles — which are basically a pie crust dough, cut into squares, and then dropped in to cook by boiling. They also end up making the broth a little thicker and stew-like. It’s homey and delicious!

              I don’t know why our ancestors called it that – all I can figure is the noodles are like a pie dough, and you cook it in a big ol’ pot? Possibly there’s some root German word, that got half-assedly used in English, but I truly don’t know! And to be clear, I never thought it was a PIE. It was a POT pie. Pies were dessert, exclusively. That said, they certainly don’t need a lid — see, pecan pie. ;-)

              1. kicking-k*

                Thank you! Educational.

                (While I would admit that pecan pie is not called “pecan tart” in the UK even though it lacks a top crust, it’s also not very often seen, and is definitely thought of as an American thing. Also, I think alliteration wins over dialect use there.)

        2. I need a new name...*

          a lid that’s cooked separately no less!

          My pastry needs to be soaking in the gravy while cooking

    7. Beware the shoebill*

      A work potluck I attended had a theme of berries. There was much discussion of whether it was meant to botanical berries or culinary berries, which are evidently very different categories

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        True, strawberries are not botanically a berry and apparently a watermelon is considered a berry.

      2. linger*

        Since it’s the name of the theme, it should be linguistic berries: thus strawberries, raspberries, blueberries included, but not bananas (which are botanical berries).
        … Though that approach does raise the risk of encountering dingleberries.

      1. Water Snake*

        I would have said that the cream cheese puts it outside the bounds of custard.

        Apparently Alton Brown considers cheesecake to be a type of custard pie, and I generally trust him. I think I want a few more expert chef opinions, though.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Custard pies are made with custard. It’s essentially a sweet cheese tart, in my book. And a tart is a subset of pies.

        Would a spoon pie be OK cooked in a round dish? Because I do like a nice cobbler, crisp, grunt, slump, etc. Especially with ice cream. Which can also be put in a pie.

      3. I need a new name...*

        Depends on the cheesecake.

        Typical cheesecake in the UK is unbaked with a biscuit crumb base. With double cream, full fat soft cheese (either cream cheese or something like mascarpone or a mixture), icing sugar and then whatever your flavour is.

  4. Caribou*

    LOVE the story about the hero in letter 4, who called out the employee who tried to justify stealing to “feed his kids for the week”!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Unfortunately, OP mentioned in the comments that the entire place was a dysfunctional mess, despite this moment of awesome.

      2. Eye roll*

        Op for #4 here, and he was nice enough, but I assure you, this was the high-water mark. It was the most dysfunctional place (and led me to stop temping) because the owner usually didn’t manage and his managers were all bonkers in different and impossibly frustrating ways. I can only imagine there was already something about this guy or this situation that pushed his buttons.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yes – that owner was awesome at standing up for his lower paid employees. It’s never fair to not get to eat because somebody else took all the food before you could get to lunch.

    2. Pants*

      At a tax firm I once worked in, they did an easter brunch each year because it almost always fell during busy season. One year, they didn’t get a big enough turkey OR ham. They called everyone to get food in teams so as not to have a line wrapping the building. Admins weren’t to go with their teams, they were to wait until the admin team was called.

      Admins were almost always called last, even though we were the ones who were still in the office late at night on April 15th, filing returns and checking statuses. We never got to participate in the party on the 15th with the firm because of this.

      So on this lovely day, they ran out of meat and the Dragon Lady Partner of the company asked the admins not to eat until after everyone else got their meat and sides, though we’d been called. She said someone was out getting more meat for us. It came in the form of cold cuts. I went out to eat.

      This is the same place where, after busy season, the Dragon Lady “offered” the admins all the leftover condiment packets for all our hard work. So gracious, as my landlady had JUST decided she’d take rent in the form of expired mayo packets. That place was a complete nightmare.

        1. Pants*

          The firm was purchased and with it, a transition plan to get her out. She signed it, but wanted to stay on when open toe shoes and jeans were allowed. She was cool with peep toe as it was only 2 toes. When it went to 3 toes, she went nuts. The woman was a piece of work. I left right after the purchase and continued to get gossip for a few years, unsolicited.

          1. Galadriel's Garden*

            I’m absolutely fascinated with someone caring so much about the number of visible toes…like, what must it be like to have that as a legitimate concern in my workday?

      1. WellRed*

        Darn! I was really hoping that story would have a partner calling up the admins first. Effin law firms!

      2. Important Moi*

        1.I know bosses who have offered leftovers and don’t understand why the offerings are refused. The complete lack of self awareness is mind boggling.

        2. That Dragon Lady had specific opinions on peep toe shoes (2 toes OK, 3 toes Not) seems on brand.

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      Moochy McMoocherson trying to justify his mooching by saying he had expensive tastes and needing help sometimes just makes the whole thing more disgusting. Being a parent means your kids’ needs come before your wants.

    4. Absurda*

      Absolutely! Also love that the employee was fired over it and the owner correctly called it stealing. I’m baffled by these people who think food prepared/purchased for a specific group (i.e. workers at the company) is theirs to take home for people who are not part of that group.

      The exception, of course, is if the potluck is over and the leftovers are offered to anyone to take home if they want.

    5. Small mind*

      I’m shocked so many people love no 4 and I’m surprised it was included on the list. It reads really mean and judgy. Yeah, the big boss should tell the food thief to leave it but he shouldn’t then go on to publicly shame him, whether or not it was true about his children. It’s not anyone’s business what the man spends his money on and perhaps he was having a tough time. Yes to the quiet word to put the food back; no to the public shaming.

      1. Name name*

        Agreed! I was left feeling pretty sad by that one and pretty off put by the bosses reaction. Two wrongs don’t make a right and lol-ing over what seems like someone who is having a tough time (whether mentally or financially) isn’t something I enjoy doing (though it seems like many at that workplace and in this thread do)

          1. Small mind*

            It doesn’t matter if he was lying or telling the truth – it was the cruel and public way it was dealt with.

            1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

              And the fact that he was stealing food from people who earned less than him and were therefore worth less than him made it less bad. /s

            2. Jackalope*

              As someone who has been in situations where I didn’t get lunch (or got a minimal amount of lunch, say just a handful of chips or something) because other people were thoughtless and took a ton for themselves, I would argue that it was much crueler of the highly paid executive to try and take the food away and not leave enough food for the lower paid employees to eat.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I’d have had no problem with the Food Mooch taking all the leftovers after every employee had a chance to eat First, but taking a whole tray of food before most of the staff had been able to eat was just wrong. To me it read like a put it back was tried – and when Mooch stooped to excuses, boss countered back.

        2. Zorak*

          The thief was using a flimsy excuse for stealing food that was meant for everyone. The boss was correct to go “Yo! What are you doing??”

          And the guff about, oh I’m going to feed this to my kids (instead of the thief saying, yeah, sorry, I’ll put it back) warrants the boss’s sarcasm about welfare. You can make up a version of this story where the thief was telling the truth and the boss was shaming them for being poor, but that’s more on the fanfic side of things.

      2. Mid*

        Nah, because the man waited until after the managers ate, but cut off the support staff to take food. Even if you are struggling to feed your kids, that’s not okay. And it sounds like he wasn’t shamed until he made up a (likely BS) excuse about feeding his kids, when called out for being rude. He didn’t think he would have consequences for his actions because he was being rude to his subordinates instead of his peers/superiors. That’s intentional.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yeah, this is it for me. He was one of th highest paid executives and he tried to take the food away from the support staff who almost certainly needed it more. And this wasn’t meant to be a “feed your family” event; it was a special meal for the staff and he was trying to make it so they didn’t get to have a meal. Especially after all of the stories we’ve heard about people coming in and taking so of the food at work potlucks so that not everyone gets to participate, and some people maybe don’t get lunch at all f they were counting on the lunch provided…. If he really needed it he could have gotten extras after everyone else had been served, or even done something more reasonable like an extra full plate or something.

      3. Really?*


        Food Mooch allowing managers to eat, but jumping ahead of support staff?

        Applause for the boss.

        I guess it is a shortcoming of mine not to feel bad for Food Mooch.

      4. DJ Abbott*

        This story is an example of a much bigger problems – people who already have plenty, like the senior employee who is paid much more than most, taking so much that others don’t get enough.
        A senior, highly paid employee stealing food that’s meant for his lower paid colleagues! That kind of entitlement and selfishness should be called out and shamed. It’s not just someone of average pay having a little difficulty, it’s a rich person stealing from those who aren’t rich. It’s not just disgusting, it’s heinous. I can’t say enough about how bad it is and how much it deserves public calling out and shaming. If only there were more managers like this one!

        1. Summer*

          @DJ Abbott- I absolutely agree! And I really don’t understand who is feeling sad about the food-stealing manager for getting what was coming to him. He FAFO and I’m happy it happened. Serves him right for trying to steal food and then come up with some lame and most likely made up excuse. Because seriously? Those two trays were gonna feed his kids for a week? And he had no other means of feeding them? Give me a break.

  5. Olivia*

    If someone told me they were bringing in homemade sushi, I would maybe be part of the crowding around just to see what it looked like. But, having assume that they meant actual sushi and not hot dogs (?!), no way would I be eating it. There is a big difference between trusting raw fish from a licensed restaurant that has to answer to the food inspector and has a reputation to uphold, and trusting raw fish from Joe in accounting, even if Joe in accounting has been known to be a good cook. Just absolutely no way.

      1. Veryanon*

        I’m still in awe of that whole thing and amazed that no one thought there might be a more sinister explanation for the blood dripping out of the locked cabinets.

        1. Koifeeder*

          I mean, imagine the PR disaster if it had been like, a piece of human or something and no one could investigate because of bureaucracy. Especially since this was apparently government!

      2. RVA Cat*

        Yikes. I hope no one got sick. But what all with the blood, I was expecting a “secret’s in the sauce” situation….

    1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      Traditional sushi can be made without raw fish though – California rolls are made with cooked crabmeat, and there are vegetarian rolls as well. I have been to a couple of parties (not work related) where these kind of rolls have been served and I’ve partaken.

      But to your point, a much as I loooove raw fish, if it didn’t come from a reputable sushi restaurant, I’m not touching it.

      1. Tin Cormorant*

        I don’t even trust myself to make my own sushi from sushi-grade fish I buy at the store. No way am I eating raw fish prepared by some random person in their unknown kitchen. Hell, I don’t think I’d trust *cooked* seafood from a potluck given what I’ve read on this site.

      2. Betty*

        I taught English conversation to adults in Japan for a year. In one class, we were going around and naming foods that they’d like to try if they visited whatever country. One student said “I’d like to try a California roll if I go to America”, leading me to ask “Wouldn’t you want to try American food?” and the class all super confused because clearly a California roll is an American food, not Japanese. So “traditional” is definitely from a US perspective when it comes to a California roll!

        1. SemiAnon*

          If you’re in Japan and want fish-free sushi, cucumber maki (rolls) and tamago nigiri sushi (the rice bit with a cooked egg topping) are good bets, and shrimp is usually cooked unless you’re at a high end place, but yeah, most of the raw-fish-free rolls are foreign inventions.

          In the other direction, I had to explain to my husband that omurice (omelette rice) was purely Japanese.

        2. Vancouver Reader*

          California roll was created by a Japanese chef in Vancouver, BC. Hence why the students were confused.

    2. Gray Lady*

      Exactly. I’m pretty cavalier about pot luck food as long as I don’t have any reason to suspect that the person has terrible hygiene and as long as it looks okay, but I would not eat homemade sushi unless I knew that the person had significant experience making it professionally, or unless it contained no raw seafood of any kind. There are just too many issues with how knowledgeable the chef is, how fresh the seafood is, and so forth.

      OTOH, the hot dog stuff doesn’t sound appetizing but there’s no such thing as “raw hot dog.” It can be eaten safely right out of the package, as hot dogs are inherently a fully cooked meat product. Cold hot dog doesn’t sound good to me, but it’s not unsafe.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        For little kids, pregnant people, or people with immune deficiencies, you should heat them to steaming to avoid the risk of listeria. Same with most cold cuts.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          Heated cold cuts? That seems excessively cautious, to the point of throwing anyone’s natural immunity to germs and bacteria out of whack.

          1. Water Snake*

            I don’t think anyone has natural immunity to listeria. The usual advice is for pregnant women and pregnant people, children, and the elderly to forgo deli meat entirely.

          2. SemiAnon*

            Oddly enough, this one is more legitimate than a lot of the recommendations for pregnant woman. Most listeria outbreaks in the US come from deli meats, heating the meat kills the listeria and renders it safe, and while listeria isn’t a big concern for healthy adults, it can cause serious problems during pregnancy.

            But for a random healthy adult it’s overkill, and for a pregnant person who is worried, it’s probably better to skip deli meats unless you’re personally preparing them.

            I’ve seen recipes for sushi rolls marked as safe for pregnant women, that ironically were full of ingredients that were actually less safe for pregnant women than properly prepared raw fish.

      2. bookworm*

        yep, this exactly. I come from a long line of iron stomachs (family members have been known to defiantly eat food that has fallen onto the floors of establishments such as hibachi style restaurants and bowling alleys, and to pry open and eat the contents of closed mussel shells…) but I think even those family members would draw the line at homemade raw fish potluck sushi by anyone without some kind of rigorous training in its preparation.

  6. Tio*

    #11, I would have outed the brownie thief immediately and let the mob have him. I also wouldn’t want to be caught returning the tray in case someone thought I took it!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Oh agreed. “Hmm, I thought I saw Greg leaving the kitchen a little bit ago with one, maybe he knows?”

    2. Pants*

      Absolutely. “Oh, I think I saw Wakeen with a tray of the brownies. I didn’t pay attention to where he was going, but it was definitely Wakeen Joaquin in office 3A on the fourth floor of Acme Company who works for Bob Angrypants.”

    3. I am the brownie hero*

      I actually did worry that someone would wonder what I was doing with the tray.

      Luckily it was a short trip from the offender’s cube to the kitchen, but had I been questioned I was simply going to say I saw them “in the wrong area of the floor”, because that’s technically true.

      1. Tio*

        Very brave! And honestly if he was just in a cubicle I’m surprised no one saw them during The Hunt lol

        1. I am the brownie hero*

          It was the day several groups were in the process of moving into their space and this guy was in a corner-ish area where there were not many folks around. I did have to go snooping a bit to find them, and they were slightly obscured from simple passers by. But yeah, it was still pretty blatant…especially him walking away with the whole tray in the first place, which is what blew my mind.

    1. Antilles*

      As with any chain, it really depends on the Wendy’s; some actually have pretty good chili. Maybe not top-tier incredibleness, but good enough that I could at least see people voting for it.

      Personally, I’m less surprised that Wendy’s won and more surprised that the story ends there. I’ve read enough of these stories over the years (here, Reddit, elsewhere) that I’d expect people to immediately flip out over you ‘cheating’ or ‘not deserving the win’ or etc. Just causes enough drama that you take that truth about your store-bought win all the way to your retirement party, maybe even all the way to your deathbed.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I’m guessing everyone else brought canned chili and it was a whole contest of cheaters! Her Wendy’s chili beat out someone else’s Hormel.

    2. Frickityfrack*

      I thought it was bad (actually just funny) when there was a minor kerfuffle over the fact that the winning chili at my last job was made with ::GASP:: a McCormick’s seasoning packet. Also a little bit of secondary pissiness over the fact that it was made with turkey. I can’t imagine the drama if someone brought Wendy’s.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I find discrimination against turkey chili hilarious, because a former coworker of mine makes a turkey and white bean chili that completely rocks my world.

    3. Tin Cormorant*

      I feel like she confessed to it being Wendy’s out of a sense of “I never thought I would actually win, it’s just Wendy’s chili. I just wanted to participate!”

      Wendy’s chili is certainly way better (at least, in my area) than anything I’ve ever gotten from a can, so if you can’t make actual chili it’s not a terrible choice.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I remember a co-worker who pouted because we barely touched her ‘awesome’ and ‘famous’ bean salad – canned beans, salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar. That was it.

      She kept saying, ‘Have some, my family tells me how much they love it…’ Some brave soul replied, ‘Well, they kind of have to, don’t they?’

      1. Bernice Clifton*

        I don’t have a problem with bean salad, but if there’s 8 other sides that look other better . . .

      2. Gray Lady*

        I make a bean salad that consists of a couple of cans of two different beans, a chopped tomato, a little chopped onion, oil and vinegar, and some seasonings. People (including some outside my family) really seem to like it, but then again, I don’t tout it as awesome or famous. The co-worker’s salad might genuinely have been good despite its humble ingredients, but she turned people off by her grandstanding, maybe.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I actually like bean salads with chopped onion and celery – crunch! – and seasonings besides salt. But this particular salad was a mushy, oily, vinegary mess.

      3. WantonSeedStitch*

        I do a bean salad for potlucks pretty often. It’s Spanish-ish, made with gigante beans, lots of olive oil, sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, thinly sliced celery, and shallots, and it’s served warm or room temperature. I love making it because 1) it’s genuinely tasty and very different from your average bean salad, and 2) it’s vegan, gluten free, nut free, and soy free, so even a lot of people with various food allergies and sensitivities can eat it.

    2. Beth*

      I’m afraid my response to Grits Guy would have been “I’m sorry, but I don’t like grits.” Because I don’t.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yeah – i’d have been replying that I can’t do shrimp because of an allergy, but they look good.

    3. Snow Globe*

      Crazy—5 of the 12 stories involve people seriously overestimating how great their “famous” dish is.

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Right? If the dish is that good, everybody else will brag about it for you! Once when I started a new job in November, people were telling me from my first day how amazing Patricia’s eggplant parm was, and how they couldn’t wait for me to try it at the Christmas potluck. They were not wrong, Patricia knows her way around an eggplant parm.

    5. drinking Mello Yello*

      If it’s really that good, everybody else will be hyping up the dish! (Pre-pandemic times at my office, there’ve been a few potluck staples that were hyped up by everybody But the people who brought them; they all lived up to the reputation!)

      1. Merrie*

        That’s one of the things I miss about my old work. Heavily female, lots of people who enjoyed cooking. We’d have a potluck, and usually most of the dishes were stuff that others had insisted that person needed to bring. I always brought spinach and artichoke dip. One of the managers made a buffalo chicken dip that was awesome. At the last potluck before I left that location, I was pregnant and dairy gave me stomachaches, but I still couldn’t resist this stuff even though I knew I’d suffer for it later. I should have gotten the recipe.

  7. Jennifer Strange*

    #2 – Honestly, even if it had been regular sushi I still would have passed. I love sushi, but I’m wary unless I’m in an actual sushi restaurant or I’ve made it myself.

  8. AnonToday*

    Fun times at my current workplace:

    A week before Halloween, all staff got emails saying that the potluck assignments will be by department, you MUST bring what you’re assigned, etc.

    Except no one ever told staff we were having a potluck.
    The email explaining that this was supposed to be fun for us didn’t come out ’til two days later.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      I had a boss who was devoted to management advice books. The advice sounds great in writing, but when he applied it in real life, he came off as an alien trying to pass for a human.

      There’s a book called Leaders Eat Last. I never read it, but it was because of that book, Boss unilaterally announced there would be a potluck for all his direct reports. He picked the day without asking anyone. Didn’t organize categories. Just sent an email and told people he was throwing a potluck to support his direct reports except his direct reports had to provide all the food and reserve a conference room.

      The reason Boss wanted a potluck is so that…he could make a show of serving everyone cafeteria style and then eating last. Literally.

      Potluck never happened. Half the people didn’t want to cook while the other couldn’t make it.

      Boss was such a dumbass.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        As opposed to my husband’s old boss, who was an elected official pretty high up in local government, with a large staff, like a couple large buildings full of workers. There wasn’t a budget for an annual staff appreciation dinner that year, so he bought and cooked all the food for his entire staff for the dinner, and had his family serve it. He was pretty amazing all around, very loyal to all his staff.

      2. SurlyAF*

        This reminds me of my old boss who used to make us push back employee birthday celebrations if he wasn’t in the office that day. By “celebration” I mean there would be a cake in the kitchen, I would email the other 8-12 employees it was time, and we would meet in the kitchen to tell the person happy birthday. Then we would take a piece of cake and return to our desks. The boss would reschedule this simple acknowledgement if he wasn’t going to be there to look like big generous boss who let you have cake. Which he never ate btw. He would wave it off because he was obviously a better person than the rest of us.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Re spam musubi: I learned about a new thing today! I might like that combination; was fond of Spam in my youth. (There’s a holiday-special Figgy Pudding Spam out there that sounds… interesting…)

    2. Water Snake*

      Not so different, though, is it? Well, except for the cheese. I do side eye the cheese, although I would still try it.

      1. Joielle*

        I would too! Hotdogs are precooked, so it’s not really raw, just cold. I don’t think it’s that different from eating cold lunchmeat. Who knows, maybe it’s a culinary sensation! I’d try one out of curiosity for sure.

  9. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Why is it that those ‘famous’ dishes that ‘everyone loves’ almost always turn out to be SO BAD?

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Maybe they’re mishearing the words “infamous” and “loathes”? Honestly, I love to bake and have on occasion shared my treats, but even then I never frame it as “people LOVE this” just “Hey, want some?”

      1. Professional Cat Lady*

        Not fair, I’m reading these during a meeting and am working overtime keeping a straight face!!!

      1. RJ*

        Betty Crocker has a lot to answer for. Those were a mainstay at my department’s potluck for years.

        I’m still perplexed by 14 kinds of potato salad all at once…

      2. LimeRoos*

        I mean, those are legit delicious lol. My aunt used to bring them to Christmas every year, and I still remember the year they got in a car accident (everyone was fine) and everyone at the scene ate the meatballs, which may or may not have actually been in the snow, I don’t remember the fine details. But yeah, they busted out the crockpot and toothpicks and even the cops had a few. Very memorable story for us now.

        1. NeedRain47*

          That’s hilarious.
          I really don’t like grape jelly so it’s still a no from me, but yeah, a lot of people really love it.

          1. T*

            You don’t have to use grape. We usually use apricot jelly.

            Or just go straight for what it’s trying to mimic and grab one of those big bottles of sweet chili sauce from the international aisle.

      3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        The barf emoji was made for this moment. What in the actual hell?!

        In clearing my grandmother’s estate, I found a couple “entertaining” cookbooks from the 70s that were absolutely atrocious.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          My mother had cookbooks like that from the 50s and some were truly alarming.

          I remember one was all about ‘Entertaining with Dr Pepper!’ Heating and serving it with a thin slice of lemon was all the rage once. Apparently.

          1. MAC*

            Hot Dr. Pepper is a thing at the finisher’s gathering at the annual Christmas 5K/10K in my community.

            I do not understand this. COLD Dr. Pepper is an abomination, heating it removes its only redeeming value (carbonation) and turns it into cough syrup.

        2. whingedrinking*

          One time at my parents’ place, my partner somehow stumbled across a cookbook that could not have been published later than 1980 and definitely rocked a Prairie church/community centre vibe. His attention was particularly caught by a recipe for something calling itself a salad, and which called for lime jello, raisins, mayo, shredded carrots and walnuts.

      4. Random Biter*

        I had to laugh at this one along the lines of one man’s trash..the non profit I once worked at used to do a weekly Texas Hold ‘Em game. We had food offerings along the lines of sloppy joes (although homemade), chips, etc. One of the first things to go (and quickly at that) was an item my cousin turned me on to. L’il smokies combines with a jar of apple jelly and one of yellow mustard all combined in a crockpot. Apparently that’s some gourmet eatin’ with the Texas Hold ‘Em crowd.

        1. NeedRain47*

          Oh god I was just thinking about that… we do lil smokies in bbq sauce up here in eastern Kansas. I don’t like lil smokies either! (this thread is making me seem like a picky eater tho I’m really not!)

        2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          That sounds delicious. I could live on smoked sausage of any type. I just found a similar recipe using kielbasa, mustard, and apricot preserves that I’ll be making for a family pot luck.

      5. frystavirki*

        When I was in kindergarten cooking club as a child, that was the first recipe we made, and I absolutely refused to eat it. I got in so much trouble, but like….I didn’t eat meatballs, I didn’t eat grape jelly, and now you want me to combine two things I don’t like and put them in my mouth? I cried. I still wouldn’t eat it now.
        If I ever end up running a club like that I’m not making kids eat the results of whatever recipe we’ve made.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      I have a coworker that wanted to bring in food for an otherwise catered department lunch (I don’t know either), and decided he Must Bring In Potato Salad.

      Went on about how good of a cook he is, how great potato salad is, yadda yadda. It was….watery? Super sweet? like it was somehow baked in a watered down syrup? But it was his “famous potato salad”.

      I will agree that it will be forever remembered.

    3. T*

      Because the kind of person who brags about their potluck dish is often also the kind of person who goes around and asks people what they think of it, and often doesn’t have the self-awareness to realize when people are just being polite. If they had that much self-awareness, they’d improve the dish (or realize it’s a little silly to seriously talk up your potluck contribution).

      1. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Yeah, if someone is that invested in their food being The Best, then they won’t take criticism very well. And nobody sensible wants to start a fight with their coworkers over lukewarm egg snacks.

    4. Cringing 24/7*

      Because the “cook” goes around to every single person saying, “Oh, didn’t you just love my famous flamberjam?” and no one wants to seem rude by saying it tastes like muddy socks, so they nod or say “Mmhmm” and suddenly the cook has started their own rumor that it’s the most beloved recipe at the whole potluck.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Love this description, but also folks will all take a bit to be polite — because the cook is hovering over the dish, death-staring anyone who dares just walk past — and then quietly throw it out (plate upside down). And now their whole dish was emptied so it must be the BEST EVER.

    5. Roland*

      Because “my coworker always talks about how they’ll bring in their famous X and then they brought in X and it was really really good” isn’t the kind of story that people share on the disaster story threads.

      1. Ann Ominous*

        I have this sense that a legit Famous X is generally talked about by others who want the person to make it, more so than by the person who makes and brings it.

      2. lyonite*

        And the people who make the actually delicious items don’t need to go around saying it; everyone else is doing it for them. I still remember the job I had during college where there was one woman who would occasionally bring in her homemade lumpia, and a line would form to get them.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yes. When others talk about your food (or try and corner you when a potluck was announced to beg you to please make X) it’s actually good. When you are talking up your own food it’s far more likely to be, um, less than amazing.

          And I so miss lumpia, the lumpia they make out here has shellfish in it so I can’t eat them.

    6. Lucy P*

      We had a guy on a church committee who always brought his famous German potatoe salad. It was a few leaves of cabbage, a boiled (and peeled) potatoe, and something else that I can’t remember, all in a skillet. Nothing was mixed together or even diced up. Yet every year he insisted on making it because everyone loved it.
      I think that in the end many of us are just really nice and don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Instead we tend to bolster the person with the worst dish because they keep asking what we thought about it.

      1. T*


        German potato salad is really very good…but whatever that guy was making was not German potato salad!

    7. L.H. Puttgrass*

      For all you need to know about this phenomenon, I recommend the Andy Griffith Show episode “The Pickle Story.” Heck, I recommend it in general—it’s a great episode.

    8. Snowy*

      I am known for making cheesecakes. Good ones. The *only* time I ever hyped my cheesecake beforehand, it turned out to be the worst one I’d ever made, haha.

      1. kicking-k*

        I usually make gingerbread cookies for school bake sales and the ONE YEAR that someone specifically expressed a hope that we would bring them was the one year they didn’t turn out so well… so, sympathy.

  10. bh*

    “…we had multiple normal pies, some homemade and some store-bought masquerading as homemade, at least one pizza, and a tray of meat pies (pasties).”

    I LOVE it!

    1. Beth*

      I’d’ve voted for the event to continue on the same chaotic basis every year. Much more fun! (More variety, too.)

      1. nozenfordaddy*

        Oh it still continues and is still chaotic. The original organizers are gone, so we went back to having no rules at all. We also had Marie Calendar Triple Berry win multiple years in a row.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      This honestly sounds like an ideal potluck menu? Multiple types of entrees and desserts! I like the idea of a whole meal with everything the same format lol

      1. T*

        Agreed. I’ve always been very meh on pie day celebrations because who really has the capacity to sample that many dessert pies in one day? But if some of them are pizza and some of them are pasties or something like chicken pot pie/shephard’s pie, it becomes much more workable.

        1. Koifeeder*

          I have knowledge of meat pie recipes that would redefine your definition of pies.

          I can’t cook them, mind. I’m a terrible chef. But I know of them.

          1. Industrial Tea Machine*

            Quiche is certainly pie! It’s a savory breakfast pie, which is a Very Important Food Group.
            The only ones I have trouble accepting are non-circular pies for Pi Day, but I’d enjoy a friendly debate about it at the event while I eat my pasty.

      2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Me too. I want to push the boundaries…does a Hot Pocket count as a hand pie? now how about empanadas?

    3. Anne Wentworth*

      Right? :D

      I don’t understand why the pasties were disqualified, that’s a much more acceptable twist than store-bought pies.

    4. Antilles*

      I’m glad I’m not the only person with this reaction. I read about the description of the pies and was like “actually, that sounds nice”.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed – that Pie Day sounds amazing – you get main course and desert pies, it’s an actual full meal.

    5. PiAllDay*

      For the Pi day celebrations the last few years, I have brought in: Whoopie Pies, Oatmeal Cream Pies, and Moon Pies. No one is going to tell me those aren’t pies. It’s in the name!

  11. GoryDetails*

    I love these so much! #4 is a “Wow. Just… wow.” Though I do applaud the hero there (and in #11); if only more office food-thieves could be dealt with so promptly…

    The happily-anything-goes folk in #3 made me happy – a nice contrast from the more controlling and/or picky/disgruntled/rabidly-furious folk in some of the other food-related posts.

    And, as a huge fan of deviled eggs, #10 made me cringe. True, the culinary term “deviled” often does refer to the addition of mustard or other hot spices, but… just smeared on a hard-boiled egg? Eek!

  12. Jam Today*

    Til my dying day I will never understand the the mentality of people who freely take all of an item, or many more than can be consumed in a single sitting, at an office event. It is just so foreign to me. I even struggle with people who go up for “seconds” when it is clear that some people have still not been able to get to the food for their “firsts” as has happened at a company I used to work at (the people in customer service were on calls while people in other departments ate their way through the buffet line while they were in it, then literally walked back to the end of the line again). I worked at one company where HR needed to intervene with someone and explain to him that the food at company events was meant to be consumed *at the event* and that taking half a dozen cookies for home so his girlfriend could have some while other people got none was not part of the bargain.

    1. soontoberetired*

      My company had to tell people not to be pigs at the formerly annual holiday meal (for thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years) held in our food service area. A group of men mostly would be first in line and take 2 or 3 desserts and try to get more of the entry every year but the whole thing was planned to not have many extras (you had to buy a ticket for like $2 by a week before the event). It was insane.

      we also had issues with Christmas treat days, where people complained if you put out the treats right away because they’d be gone before 9 so emails would go out. People were just pigs during the whole thing.

      When I first started we had 3 treat days and you were forced to sign up. Then we had a division boss who found the whole thing distasteful for many reasons, including the fact that people would spend all morning eating treats and not working. the boss cut it to 1 day and the pandemic has killed it even though people are back in the office. I don’t miss it.

    2. Bernice Clifton*

      Probably the same people who get an invitation with an optional +1 and assumes if they are single they can bring any rando. Like, who doesn’t bring their mom to their high school reunion? /s

      1. Antilles*

        Nah, I think the real analogy would be the people who get an RSVP with a “plus one” and instead show up with their entire household in tow. You were offered to bring ONE person not ten; you’re taking up way more than your fair share and impacting everybody else’s experience.

        1. I Wish My Job Was Tables*

          I was coming here to say this. Taking all the food reminded me of working as an assistant at a company where an employee interpreted the “employees and a plus one get first dibs at the sample sale” to mean their plus one got a plus one, who also got a plus one, who also got to have their own plus one… on and on like that.

          His entire extended family showed up and bought EVERYTHING before a single other person even got to look at the sample sale.

          The rules about who could attend the sample sale early got tightened after that.

        2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          Yes. If someone wants to bring their neighbor to my wedding or a holiday party because they will have more fun/be more comfortable–have at it. The plus one isn’t for the hosts, it is for the guest and they should be able to bring anyone they like.

      2. Your Local Password Resetter*

        That sounds perfectly normal actually. If other people can bring their partners, why couldn’t I bring a friend?

        1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

          This is where I land. You get a +1. I don’t care who that is (other than, if you’re required to RSVP, please tell me a name so I can mark it on my list.)

          At my wedding, a friend of ours was invited with his wife. He said, ‘I’ll actually be coming back from Canada and my annual photography trip with my BFF, could I bring her instead?’ Sure, I don’t care! What’s her name and does she have any dietary restrictions I need to know about?

          At an event I’m planning for work now, everyone gets a +1. You need to tell me a name and age (it’s a drinking/gambling event, so I need to know whether to count them in the booze headcount), and beyond that, IDGAF who you’re bringing as long as I know if they’re legal to drink/gamble. My intern is bringing his dad.

          1. NotRealAnonforThis*


            Back when hubs and I got married, a family friend RSVP’ed with a friend as her plus one, not her husband, with a short note that “friend’s husband will be out of country hunting, sincerely hope bringing a friend to join in on the wedding festivities will be welcome!” and oh my lord was it ever welcome! I appreciated her including the note to explain what was up so that I could fend off the gossip mongers.

      3. Ace in the Hole*

        Those aren’t at all equivalent. I realize this is a bit of a tangent, but this is an issue close to my heart.

        Limiting +1’s to romantic partners only is, in my opinion, discriminatory and reinforces heteronormative expectations. In particular it is one of the (many, many) things that contributes to asexual erasure/discrimination, although it certainly affects other groups. This attitude puts romantic relationships on a pedestal, implying that they deserve special treatment compared to other types of relationships. But what about people who will never have romantic partners… or for whom it’s not safe to be open about their choice of partner?

        If others are allowed to bring a guest who is important in their life, why should I not be allowed to bring a guest who is important in my life? Why should bringing a blood relative or platonic friend be different from bringing a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend?

        1. Chirpy*

          This. Otherwise the single person is often going to get stuck either by themselves when the couples all pair off, or cornered and harassed for not having a romantic partner. Let them bring a non-romantic +1.

      4. Ann Ominous*

        Where is it implied that a +1 has to a a romantic partner? Is this a societal norm thing I’ve missed my whole life?

        1. Water Snake*

          Yeah, it is kind of a societal norm, especially if we’re talking wedding. Honestly, I kind of applaud you for not knowing, and I hope you don’t change anything you do now that you’ve been filled in.

          1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

            I’d say it was a societal norm but things have changed. At my wedding in 1995 my mom was IRRATE that a friend of mine brought their roommate. At my bonus daughter’s wedding last year, there were all kinds of people and no one blinked an eye.

            Anyone who is holding on to the notion that plus ones are only romantic partners has been living under a rock. (I jest, but still…)

          2. LadyVet*

            I always knew it was a norm, but it was one that I happily ignored. Mostly because it never made sense to me to have a date for events just to have a date, as opposed to if you were offered a +1, taking someone whose company you know you enjoy, whether that’s a romantic partner, friend, or family member.

            But I also saw a lot of people who took dates they didn’t know well to prom, and if the date wasn’t someone who already knew their friends or other people at the event, both parties looked bored.

        2. NeedRain47*

          the fact that it’s implied means I can’t really point it out to you… but yes, this is usually the expectation b/c it’s the most common scenario. It’s likely to be assumed that the person you’re with is your romantic partner, or a date if not partner.

          1. ArrowAce*

            I honestly think that bringing a date to a wedding is far and away more likely to cause issues than bringing a platonic friend or family member.

            If I don’t know them well, I don’t know whether my date is going to get incredibly drunk at an open bar and decide that his gift to the couple is going to be a magic show.

            Also, looking back at wedding photos, I think “Look at this cute picture of the bride, ArrowAce, and ArrowAce’s sister/best friend/platonic life partner” is sweeter than “Look at this picture of the bride, ArrowAce, and… who is that?”

      5. Mandrake Root*

        I think my mom would have been an awesome date to my HS reunion. She knew my teachers, knew all my friends…

        1. LadyVet*

          My mom did wind up essentially crashing my 20th HS reunion’s afterparty, because she didn’t feel like driving home and back, so she just hung out at the bar. But she had a great time, since she knew most of the people in my class and then some of the other townies hanging out.

          I am obviously biased, but I have a pretty cool mom.

      6. Roland*

        Yeah, “taking something away from others” is totally the same as “refusing to be punished for being single”

    3. Adds*

      I don’t get it either. Like, what went on in your formative years where you learned that was ok? Or didn’t learn that it wasn’t ok?

      Similarly, I don’t understand parents at food-centric events that let their young kids (elementary-aged) go through the buffet line, mostly unsupervised, and take multiple adult-sized portions of food they are clearly not going to eat. Inevitably there are lots of adults who never get to eat during those things while children are throwing away entire plates full of food. Please supervise and advise/correct your kid on portions if you’re going to let them serve themself. And just in general be conscientious of all the other people who would also like to eat if you’re at a buffet event.

    4. BubbleTeaAddict*

      At my workplace, someone apparently got tired of people being messy freeloaders and installed permanent signs in the break room kitchen that literally say “Don’t be a freeloader. Don’t take unmarked food, even if it’s left out.” Other gems include “Reconsider microwaving fish and broccoli” and “The fridge is not your personal storage.” They help, somewhat.

    5. MurpMaureep*

      I agree. My family has a lot of weirdness around hospitality and food and eating…but I at least learned to be hypersensitive to following “polite” conventions around what and how much to take when.

      Even if someone is a deeply selfish person and doesn’t give a hoot about denying others, don’t they realize they have to still work with these people? Wouldn’t some kind of self-preservation kick in?

    6. Snarkus Aurelius*

      At my last job, HR refused to pay extra for catering staff to dish up food. And every year, the buffet would run out of food because people would load up their plates.

      I gave up going to the Xmas party even after they finally paid staff to dish up food.

    7. PleaseNo*

      Because of food insecurity…? Growing up when you’re not sure if you’re going to eat that day or the next, when you’re hungry and have been hungry, when you see food available you eat it. And you take what you can because who knows when you will have food again. Especially as a kid when you don’t have the agency and need to rely on unreliable parental figures.

      In college and grad school, free food was a lure for many students – because it meant less money you had to spend, and perhaps because childhood habits are hard to overcome (we all have them).

      I, personally, am not in that situation before, but it can be hard not to take more than I can eat sometimes. And I’ve been in lots of therapy!

      I’m not here to excuse their behavior, but to merely offer an explanation.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        If there’s only one or two dishes I can eat because of my dietary restrictions, I will take the entire amount I think I’m going to eat during the first pass. A lot of vegetarian options are popular with omnivores, and often those dishes are gone by the time I would go up for seconds.

      2. Despachito*

        I understand that some people may have experienced hard times… however, ťhey are adults now and very likely much better off and not starving, and definitely should know better. I can understand if they load their plate with something interesting a bit more than their fair share, but if someone grabs the entire tray for themselves to take home, it is just bad manners. (Unless their family are really starving, which would then be a much deeper issue).

  13. Brain the Brian*

    I’m so sorry that I missed the original post earlier this month, the comment section of which looks far more fun than any office gathering I’ve ever attended.

    Here’s my (actually awful) story, which resulting in someone getting fired. One of our senior managers (now retired) liked to be “the grillmaster” (yes, he had an apron printed with this) for our annual summer office picnic; the company catered parts of the meal, but he would grill hamburgers, hotdogs, and veggie versions thereof for some odd reason that long predated my employment.

    But, plot twist: the park where we had this picnic every year had no grills. So this Very Senior Manager used company funds to buy a set of five portable charcoal camping grills, and then he would require someone from his department to go to the park two hours before everyone else each year to set up the grills and make sure they were hot and ready for cooking by the time Very Senior Manager arrived. Well, one year, the designated employee didn’t get the setup *quite* right (something about the flame being wrong and the food taking too long too cook — I digress), and the employee was let go mid-picnic. Poor sap was escorted to his car by HR and told to go home and expect a severance check. Really put a damper on the games of badminton and the annual water balloon fight, I must say.

    1. Anne Wentworth*

      That’s horrible.

      Also, can you imagine trying to answer the “Why did you leave your last job?” question in his next job interviews?

    2. Pants*

      I think that would change my target and strength of throwing during the water balloon fight. Fight, indeed.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Very Senior Manager was not partaking in the water balloon fight (he had those hamburgers to cook!), but one or two water balloons may have “slipped” out of someone’s hands in his direction that year.

    3. Lana Kane*

      This story made me really mad. I hope Poor Sap sued for wrongful termination, or at least left bags of poop at Manager’s front door.

      1. Tired of Working*

        I have a feeling that Alison would say that Poor Sap couldn’t sue for wrongful termination, because Being Unable to Set Up a Portable Charcoal Grill is not a protected class.

      2. Brain the Brian*

        As far as I know, Poor Sap just went on with his life and is now working for a much more reasonable employer and manager. No bags of feces needed for that level of calm comeuppance.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I have trouble believing that this was a completely functional workplace apart from this one picadillo of the VP’s. I think getting out (with severance!) may have been a relief to Poor Sap.

    4. Despachito*

      That is truly awful! Luckily it did not happened several hundred years ago, or it would be “off with his head…?

      I wouldn’t wonder if all the other participants turned on their heels and went home… and started frantically job-seeking. What a disgusting scumbag of a boss.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        I’m still working at this employer, although this particular Very Senior Manager has thankfully retired now. My own manager is much more reasonable.

  14. Robert E.O. Speedwagon*

    I love stories like the pie contest where people go full Diogenes to interpret rules as absurdly as possible.

    Related: when I took my gap year between high school and college, one of the rabbis on the program hosted a Purim party at his home near the yeshiva (for the non-Jews, what you have to know is that one of the traditions of Purim is to have a LOT of alcohol. Like, a L O T of alcohol. Like, more alcohol than you’re thinking of right now). His rule for the party was that if you came, you were only allowed one cup of wine, with the caveat to that being that you were allowed to bring your own cup… of whatever size you want. This rule was amended to “it has to be an actual cup” after one year a student brought a vase.

    1. Avery*

      Just to spell it out for the non-Jews: It’s literally a religious commandment (with exceptions for youth and health ofc) to drink on Purim until you can’t distinguish the name “Mordechai” from the name “Haman”.
      And if you’re thinking “wait, those names sound nothing alike!” …well, you’re not wrong. THAT’s how drunk you get at Purim…

      1. kendall^2*

        It’s not a rule; it’s a custom that is very strong in some communities, and not so emphasized in others.

    2. yala*

      So, I’m Catholic, but isn’t the whole point of Purim to drink until you can’t do basic math?

      Like, it’s a late-winter holiday. Don’t most of those revolve around being completely sloshed?

      1. Robert E.O. Speedwagon*

        Yep! More specifically, as a fellow commenter mentioned above, until you cannot distinguish between Mordechai and Haman – the rationale being that we’re commemorating that the events that unfolded which saved us took place through the prevalence of alcohol at Esther’s feasts.

    3. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Now I’m just picturing Diogenes kicking in a break room door, lasagna held aloft, yelling “BEHOLD A PIE”

    4. JustAnotherKate*

      Ha, I would’ve been there with one of those full-bottle-holding wine glasses. Hey, still a cup! (Wine and hamantaschen: it’s what’s for dinner!)

      1. whingedrinking*

        My partner and I have an object in our home which we disagree about: he says it’s an oddly-shaped vase and I say it’s a novelty glass for one of those drinking games where the object is to consume an ungodly amount of beer without spilling. It holds a litre and a half. (In fairness, we do actually use it as a vase.) Neither of us can remember where it came from in the first place, though I’m thinking probably a thrift store.

      1. Robert E.O. Speedwagon*

        It would have! People brought like 20 oz beer steins and filled them to the brim with wine. It was always a fun challenge to see who could find the biggest “real” cup, and people would text in our group chat if they found a store selling massive cups.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I have an ~48 oz Martini glass that’s intended to be ornamental that I might have brought. Libbey makes a 44 oz version that’s easy to find online.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I used to have a two gallon brandy snifter. (I used it as a fish bowl before I knew better.)

        2. Juicebox Hero*

          20-something me would have been looking to convert just for that :D Nowadays I drink so rarely that a normal glass of wine is enough to get me buzzed.

          My sister has an ice bucket shaped like a giant red plastic cup, with the white rolled rim and ridges around the middle, only it’s the size of a KFC chicken bucket. It probably wouldn’t count, but it’d be funny to show up at the party with it.

          1. Avery*

            For any current 20-somethings still reading this, my old temple would literally give out a bottle of wine to each adult attendee every Purim! Kids got chocolate, and both came with funny labels on them, often tying into what our rabbi and assistant rabbi had dressed as that year.
            Though admittedly I don’t know how widespread that particular tradition is. Also it was always red wine, while my parents only drink white wine (and I don’t drink at all), so we still have some of those bottles hanging around even having not been temple members for some years now.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      In the Lark Rise to Candleford series, the Lark Risers can get a container filled with skim milk from the dairy for free. One of the older members of the community brought larger vessels each time & was never turned away.

  15. Bernice Clifton*

    If you have to go around telling everyone what a great dish *you* cook, it’s probably not as great as you think, or will be devoured like when you make it at home when there are so many other choices. The best food I’ve had from coworkers it’s been other people who hyped it up.

    And I am in awe of the food thief confronters. But I have a sore spot for people who have reason to know they are taking more than their fair share of something and are counting on everyone to feel too awkward to call them out.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      I’ve found that the taste of a dish is inversely proportional to how much the cook talks about it. The ones that get presented as the ambrosia of the gods taste bleah to meh at best. Maybe because nothing could ever taste good enough to live up to the hype.

  16. ZSD*

    These posts are really underscoring the regional differences in potluck (or “carry-in” as they’re called where I come from) expectations. Having grown up in the Midwest, I would DEFINITELY be on the side of abhorring anyone who brought something store-bought to a carry-in. You just don’t DO that. But now that I’ve moved out of the Midwest, I’ve lived several places where bringing a store-bought pie to the potluck wasn’t a source of shame at all. It’s very regional!

    1. NeedRain47*

      This sounds personal, not regional. I’ve lived in the midwest for 40 years but I don’t shame people for not having the time, money, skill, or interest in cooking for their coworkers.

      1. Chirpy*

        I think it’s hyper-regional, and maybe lessening over time. The Midwestern potlucks I grew up going to probably wouldn’t say anything out of politeness if you brought something store bought, but chips/soda/store desserts were (are?) definitely seen as the things only “bachelors who can’t cook” would bring. I think now it’s more acceptable, but I still feel awkward bringing just cheese to a potluck even if it’s requested by everyone (I have access to fresh cheese!)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I’m from the Midwest, & the fact that my sister was always asked to bring wine to family meals on one side was definitely a comment on her cooking skills.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I once worked at a place where all potlucks were on Thursday (despite requests to move it to a different day earlier in the week) because the “Company Matron” liked Thursdays (they were her Friday). Which meant that everybody was bringing in store bought stuff – because nobody else had time to cook a pot luck dish in the middle of the week.

      She kept throwing tantrums about it till we got a new office manager who shut her down with a choice: keep pot lucks on Thursday and deal with all of us bringing store bought because it’s what we can manage; or if homemade is so vitally important to you than the pot lucks need to move to Mondays. I will tolerate no more tantrums about this, if you keep throwing tantrums you can’t keep coming to the pot lucks.

      She retired two months later, mood improved greatly.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I’m from the Midwest, & to me a “carry-in” is when you bring food or drink into an establishment for your own consumption instead of buying theirs. (Or because they don’t sell liquor but you can bring in your own bottle.)

      1. Casual Fribsday*

        Like Chirpy mentioned above, “carry-in” is more hyper-local. AFAIK, almost all communities that use the term are in the midwest, but not even most communities in the midwest use it.

        1. Casual Fribsday*

          I work somewhere that’s the result of a merger between potluck people and carry-in people, so I’ve been subjected to many a treatise on the topic.

      2. LittleMarshmallow*

        Same… never heard that term. Also my experience has been that potlucks are always a mix of home made and store bought with no judgement from people for one or the other. I’ve lived in three separate Midwest states too… my Midwest potluck experience has been pretty consistent from state to state (MN, IA, WI).

    3. Not in your timezone*

      In my country it’s called ‘bring a plate’. A trap for migrants who often turn up to their first gathering holding empty crockery. Locals find this funny. In the old days (pre 1990s) it was written ‘ladies bring a plate’ at the bottom of invitations and advertisements.

      We allow shop bought but it’s considered polite to put it on a serving dish first so that it’s table ready.

  17. Environmental Compliance*

    “Pro tip: The trick was to ‘fold’ the salsa to get the best flavor.”

    Why this is the line that sent me, I’m not entirely sure, but I am cackling over my ham & cheese sammich.

          1. Mandrake Root*

            I can’t tell if you are tongue in cheek or genuine, so I’ll answer assuming you are genuine:

            Folding is a mixing technique for when you don’t want to be too vigorous. Say you want to mix sugar into meringue—beating it in will cause your meringue to collapse, so you gently fold it in. Try looking for a YouTube video to demonstrate.

        1. Purple planner*

          Read that story & literally came straight to the comments to see if anyone said ‘fold the cheese’ – not disappointed!

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I thought of the scene in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty where the fairies are trying to make a cake and fold in three eggs–including the shells.

    1. bt;dt*

      I wonder if she got the idea from Amy Sedaris’ ‘I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence’ cookbook- her suggestion for creating your own ‘signature’ bbq sauce is to buy 2 different types and mix them, and then refuse to share your secret recipe with anyone :D

  18. Anne Wentworth*

    The phrase “people insist[ing] on pushing the boundaries of what constitutes pie” made my day.

      1. Rocky Mountain Recruiter*

        I love that! Single crust pies (pumpkin, pecan, merengues) would be bread bowls, but a double crust pie (cherry, apple, etc.) would be a calzone. And cheesecake is toast? Would cake be “wet salad”?

    1. LittleMarshmallow*

      My very stem related workplace just loves pi day! We definitely extend our definition to pretty much all round food… so like donuts at breakfast, pizza for lunch, and traditional pie for afternoon snack.

      We don’t contest though… too much stress! We all just like to eat.

  19. Voldemort's cousin*

    This is so amazing: “Pro tip: The trick was to ‘fold’ the salsa to get the best flavor.”

    All I can think of is Moira Rose: “You FOLD it in! Fold in the cheese!”

  20. Chocolate Teapot*

    Fortunately, I have never worked anywhere where a potluck was held, but I did once attend a church potluck, and nobody wanted to eat my potato salad. I can only assume it was because I made it with red onion and a light vinaigrette, rather than mayonnaise, since that’s the version I prefer.

    1. Ace in the Hole*

      Growing up, I was taught to make fruit salad by mixing sliced apples and bananas with mayonnaise.

      I didn’t realize this was unusual until I signed up to bring fruit salad to a potluck. I feel a little bad for the poor organizers, who hadn’t imagined anyone could mess up a fruit salad!

      1. No Tribble At All*

        My great-grandma’s “canned pineapple, jello, and cool-whip TM” fruit salad would enjoy being friends with your apple/banana/mayo salad.

      2. MurpMaureep*

        It sounds akin to a Waldorf Salad, which shouldn’t be that weird! Perhaps it’s regional/generational, but growing up in the Midwest in the 70s and 80s, one always expected all “salads” to potentially contain some combination of sugar/vinegar/mayonnaise (or all three!).

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Definitely regional. Grandma was from Mississipi, we live in California. Fruit salad here is normally sliced fruit with a little lemon juice to keep from going brown.

    2. T*

      Ooh that sounds delicious. I’m not a fan of mayo-based potato salads, but I’ve had vinegar-based ones that were very good. Vinaigrette sounds even better.

      1. yala*

        I feel like vinegar vs mayo should have different names, because at that point, really, the texture and taste are so different they’re not remotely the same thing.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          Thinking about it, in my house we had three kinds so I do differentiate by name — French (cold with vinaigrette and herbs), German (hot with vinegar and bacon) and “regular” (cold with mayo).

          1. Ins mom*

            Any of the above sound delicious. I haven’t made German potato salad for a long time ( too few potlucks the past few years!)

    3. Gumby*

      I don’t like mayo based anything really (though a small amount on a burger or sandwich is okay if and only if it is right next to the tomato). But neither am I a fan of German Potato Salad, which is vinegar based, because it has too much vinegar for me, plus onions. This makes me sad because: bacon. Also? I am Lutheran so church potlucks…

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Was raised Lutheran in the Deep South – the arguments during pot lucks at that church over what actually was a Real Potato Salad were Epically Legendary. I can still see the choir director and LWMS President yelling at each other from two inches apart (I was 9ish).

        Fortunately the Lutheran Church I’m at now is far more laid back when it comes to pot lucks.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        My husband’s family’s German potato salad recipe uses pickle juice (from bread and butter pickles) instead of vinegar, and it’s delicious. It still has that sweet/sour thing, but it’s not as harsh. But, yes, it does have (cooked) onions.

    4. I should be working*

      I would have gladly taken a helping of your potato salad! I’m always trying to find alternatives to mayo based dressings.

      But yeah, I generally go with the least adventurous things to bring to a pot luck. I’m in the Midwest and daring flavors are just scary to people!

      1. Chirpy*

        I just bring stuff I like, everyone in the Midwest is going to find something weird about my cooking anyway. I once had people really confused why there were “vegetables” in my chili. It was black bean chili with bell peppers and corn, all the other ingredients were a very typical chili recipe.

  21. Jmac*

    The idea of wine or any other alcohol being served at an office pot luck in the middle of the day is wild. No company I’ve ever worked for would have been cool with that

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I once attended an office-wide summer bbq that was put on at the office (in the parking lot) that had plenty of booze.

      For a state government agency. It was, in retrospect, sketch, especially as us interns were freely offered booze even if underage. The food was really tasty though.

      I brought mint brownies and one of the dept managers told me I would catch a man with those brownies. Also sketch, in retrospect.

      1. Ann Ominous*

        You must have been so relieved to discover you no longer had to keep working much longer, because you’d soon catch a man to do all the providing for ya!


    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Agreed, sort of. My org has an actual written policy on alcohol consumption at a work event — not just a pot luck — and it’s something like wine, champagne or beer only, served no earlier than 3:00 pm, must have prior written authorization from HR… I can’t even expense alcohol at a restaurant meal if I’m off-site for work purposes — it even has to be on a separate check.

    3. Sunflower*

      There’s a company in my industry with a bar. Since that’s just for everyday, I can’t imagine what happens during a pot luck. LOL

    4. Absurda*

      I’ve never had a company potluck with alcohol. One time, though, an SVP who was trying to reward are dept for a hard week (might of been end of quarter or something, I don’t remember) brought in pizza and beer. That’s the only time I’ve had alcohol in a company building, though.

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I used to work in a retail property management company that were insane drinkers. They once split the office into 9 teams to each make a themed mini-golf “hole” outside their cubes and each hole also had a pitcher with a different type of boozey drink. I made Manhattans. Everyone was totally blitzed by the 9th hole and then went back to work.

  22. SomethingCleverHere*

    Every Thanksgiving I think of that secretary that forced her entire office to color paper turkeys like a group of preschoolers. I wonder what potlucks are like at her office

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        Double wut.

        (She’d probably make people wear bibs and nag them on how to use a knife and fork properly.)

        1. SomethingCleverHere*

          Yeah, she forced all of her coworkers to color paper turkeys, made them attend a talent show, and called them all at home in 2020 “just to check on their well-being”. I’d fire my secretary if she acted like this.

  23. Uldi*

    Technically, #2 was sushi. The main ingredient in sushi is the vinegar-ed rice, not raw fish or anything else.

    So they got hotdogzushi(?).

    Still not a combo I would expect to taste all that great though.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Where I live seafood/sushi isn’t a big thing but we do have 1-2 sushi restaurants. Some of the combinations they put together to get locals to eat there are interesting to say the least.

  24. Dust Bunny*

    I have to confess that as much as I like sushi, it’s one of the last things I want to see home-“cooked” at a potluck.

  25. Ace in the Hole*

    #5 reminds me of my group’s infamous Squashpocalypse holiday potluck.

    We didn’t bother with sign-up lists or any sort of organization for who brings what, trusting it to all work out. Which it did, for many years… until one fateful Thanksgiving week when everyone brought some form of squash. Every. Single. Person. We had two kinds of squash soup and three pumpkin pies. We had spaghetti squash, butternut squash raviolis, and honey-glazed roasted red kuri squash. We had summer squash casserole, stuffed acorn squash, squash curry, and afghani-style stewed pumpkin on rice. The only non-squash items on the table were drinks and bread rolls – and only because we sent someone out to pick them up after the party started.

    Now we use sign up sheets.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      In the UK, they have an orange-flavored soft drink known as squash. That seems somehow appropriate.

      And I hope whoever bought the rolls was very careful while transporting them. You wouldn’t want them to get…. SQUASHED (ow! hey! all right, I’m going!!!)

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        Techincally, it’s not just orange squash – it’s any of the fruit-based diluting drinks

        (orange squash, lemon squash, Apple and blackcurrent, Summer Fruits etc etc…)

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, squash is just the name for the drink you make with thick fruit-flavoured cordial diluted with water. Can be orange but there are loads of other flavours. You buy the cordial in a bottle and pour a little bit into a glass or a jug and top up the glass/jug with water to dilute the cordial/syrup. Hence it being very popular for children’s parties and any event where you need to have lots of drinks available very cheaply – one bottle of cordial goes a very long way!

          1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)!*

            I (US-based) love Ribena concentrate in water or seltzer water. TIL the “technical term” for it!

    2. I should be working*

      What amazes me about this is that in any given group I’ve been around, the usual response to any mention of squash is a scrunched up face that would give a disgruntled 3 year old a run for their money, and “eeuuu, gross, squash”.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        We’re a pretty adventurous group when it comes to vegetables… But it definitely helped that the local supermarket had squashes on sale for $0.25/lb that week.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      My ex boss once decided to have everyone email our shared mailbox with what they were bringing to one lunch event, rather than having a proper sign up list. As it turned out, quite a few people offered pork pies, and she ended up sending out an email to them all (except the director, who was allowed to stick with it) asking them to bring something else instead.

      Next time, a sign up list so everyone could see what everyone else was offering was suggested.

    1. Pants*

      Does pie have a crust? Cos I do a great Basque cheesecake that has no crust. I’d like Alton’s verdict on that. I trust his judgement.

    2. OyHiOh*

      One of my children has a PI day birthday. They’ve had cheesecake (cheese pie according to Alton Brown) for their birthday dessert for years.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        My birthday is Pi Day.
        I have Boston Cream Pie every year. (Yes, I know it’s technically a cake.)

  26. Pants*

    I love these stories. I still am very leery of potlucks, however. I don’t know what these people’s kitchens look like. I wash my hands so many times when I’m cooking and I know [former] coworkers who didn’t wash their hands after using the toilets. I don’t really want to eat anything they’ve pee-pared. I just tend to skip them entirely.

    1. Cringing 24/7*

      This. I wash my hands and sanitize my prep spaces when I’m just cooking for *myself* – much less for other people – but I’d rather everyone bring store-bought things than to mentally dwell for too long on the kitchen conditions of the coworker who I know doesn’t wash his hands after he uses the bathroom.

    2. Panicked*

      My desk is right next to the bathrooms and we have thin walls. I can tell you exactly who in my office washes their hands. The number of those who do is disgustingly low. I don’t eat at potlucks.

  27. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Craving pie (fruit pie) one Pi day, I sent my husband to the store to get a pie on the way home. He does not like sweets and prefers fruit pie so I did not think more info was needed.

    He came home with a cake. “It is round,” was all he could say.

  28. Aiani*

    Every work place needs a food hero.
    These stories remind me how much I miss our yearly Thanksgiving potluck. The first time I attended there were lots of traditional American Thanksgiving foods and a big container of Lo Mein. I looked at it with confusion until another person told me I should get some because she said an employee had family who own a Chinese restaurant so everyone looks forward to the Lo Mein every year. It was delicious and I did start looking forward to it every year after that. Now they cater the Thanksgiving meal and I miss the Lo Mein so much. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.

  29. Skyblue*

    The people in #5 should have watched more Sesame Street!
    From “The King Gives a Picnic”… “You mean you all brought potato salad?? You can’t have a picnic with just potato salad!”
    Loved that one.

    1. L'étrangere*

      Yes, about #5 potato salad, and also #3 overthrow – why does everyone get so worked up about too much of this or that? One of the best potlucks in my LIFE was the one where a dozen people showed up, all with chocolate cake. We had an orgy of chocolate cake sampling and heated discussion of what made a good one and a fabulous recipe exchange. Clearly everyone brings to a potluck what they want to eat, and if everyone wants potato salad or squash then they should be allowed to eat that. The Potluck Police themselves is highly unlikely to eat 100% balanced meals, they should just butt out with the fake nutrition performance

    2. Iris Eyes*

      One of the best survey comments I’ve ever read was a customer who was livid that we had run out of potato salad at a customer appreciation luncheon. The survey was months later and was about a specific product. So while perhaps you can’t have a picnic with just potato salad you certainly can’t have one without it either.

  30. Bunny Girl*

    LOL these are great. It’s crazy how competitive people get.

    I had a woman in my old office who took offense to me right away. She was just a really bitter human being. I brought in orange bruleed cheesecake and she put it in the corner off away from the rest of the food and spent the entire day loudly telling everyone that her cheesecake was always scratch made. Except, so did I and she didn’t even bring cheesecake.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Yep! She was nuts. And I kept cracking up because of the way she was acting about it. Like she would mention cheesecake and then say Oh well I always make mine from scratch and people would be like Oh you do? and she would gravely nod like she was confirming that she gave birth to the Lord himself. She took cheesecake seriously. Which again, mine was homemade too! LOL

        1. L'étrangere*

          Your cheesecake sounds fabulous Bunny, I would have crawled into the corner with it and scarfed it all up with you

    1. JustAnotherKate*

      Hey, I had a crazy abusive boss who told folks I used salt instead of sugar in my baked goods as a joke so no one would eat them — not only did every piece sit there as the rest of the snacks were devoured, I was getting death-glares all day and had no idea why. Finally, I found out when someone screamed at me about how dangerous my “prank” was. So, yeah, people can be evil and food can make it worse. (Apologies if I’ve told this one before. Given some of the comments here, I’m fortunate to have only one wacky work potluck story!)

      1. ladyhouseoflove*

        Oh my god, how did people respond when they found out your boss lied? I hope they realized it was all because of the boss being unhinged.

        1. JustAnotherKate*

          I ate one in front of the lady who yelled at me, and convinced her to take a bite. Once she realized it was fine and others saw her eating it, most of the bars got eaten. Whether they thought my boss was unhinged or not, I’m not sure — but I didn’t work with these folks directly, so they were just as likely to think I was unhinged and would actually pull a mean trick like using salt instead of sugar. (My former boss was all about “kiss up, kick down” and could be SUPER fake friendly and perky to anyone on her level or above, and I’m more of a “get my work done and go” type, so I could imagine people thinking she was the nice one and I was the ogre.)

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Okay, the boss is baffling but so is that coworker. Using salt instead of sugar isn’t dangerous… people would be able to taste the difference immediately and would (presumably) spit it out since something that salty is absolutely disgusting.

        Anyone so sensitive to salt that even briefly tasting something salty is dangerous shouldn’t be gambling on random potluck desserts anyways!

  31. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I adore all these stories (but especially the one where the boss calls out and eventually fires the mooch).

    They remind me of an Internet classic where a queen bee type was hyping up her lemon cake for a school bake sale and being extremely patronising about the OP’s chocolate cornflake cake … but by a twist of fate her signature cake had suffered a temperature fail and once cut turned out to be still raw inside, whereas the cornflake cake had already sold out immediately.

    People like what they like, and in particular they like what they recognise.

  32. curmudgeon*

    The potato salad story reminds me of a funeral of a distant family member I attended. The meal afterwards consisted of about 5 different kinds of mayonnaise heavy potato salad, 3 kinds of jello salad (I thought that went out in the 50s?) & Mac and cheese made with Velveeta.

    Call me callous but I got lunch somewhere else after paying my respects.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        So glad I grew up in the Chicagoland area of the Midwest. We go to a restaurant for dinner after a funeral. (And there’s usually mostaccioli! I now strongly associate it with banquet dining.)

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Come to Utah – jello salad is an unofficial food group out here.

      (No I don’t understand it either, but I’m not originally from Utah.)

  33. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    One of my previous jobs was as a cater-waiter, and one day I was called to an event that my company apparently did every year: an outdoor, catered buffet/barbecue lunch for a large company. At the team meeting during set up, our captain for the day informed us (with the look of a grizzled war vet riding back into the scene of a bloody defeat) that this company was notorious for staff members bringing tupperware and packing up “leftovers” for home. As catering staff, it was neither our job nor our place to keep this from happening, but it meant we would have to work extra hard to keep all the buffets stocked. My job for the day was to work as a runner, and I spent that entire day in constant flight from my buffet to the kitchen and back again with gigantic trays of food that were emptied almost the moment they were put down — as I recall, there were meant to be two or more “shifts” of workers coming to the barbecue, and we had rationed the main courses accordingly, which caused mayhem and dissent when the first shift ran out IMMEDIATELY. There was nothing we could do about it; we’d brought all of the food the company had paid us for.

    All of which is to say: apparently, using the company picnic to fill your fridge is perhaps more socially acceptable depending where you go, but a recipe for disaster and hurt feelings every time.

    1. Xantar*

      Oh wait I just realized what I was remembering are rolls which some consider to be separate from buns.

  34. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    “A man ate potluck sausage sushi. This is how his organs shut down”

    1. Panicked*

      JT is a 48 year old man *presenting* to the emergency room agitated, confused, and retching. Paramedics tell the admitting nurse that the man was found unconscious by coworkers, surrounded with a half-eaten tray of potluck sushi.

      1. Evan Þ*

        The twist is that the sushi was fine; JT was trying to take the whole tray home and one of his coworkers kicked him in the stomach a little too hard. Unfortunately, the tray went flying and no one got it.

  35. Chip Biffington*

    The inverse of the salsa story:

    My family loves chips and salsa, so when I would invariably forget that I was supposed to bring food to something in school, my mother would decant some salsa from our gallon sized jug into a Tupperware and send me off with that and a couple bags of chips.

    One time, my teacher asked me to get the salsa recipe from my mother. I said it wasn’t homemade, but the teacher refused to believe that salsa that good could be store bought and if it wasn’t homemade, why didn’t I bring in the whole jar?

  36. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*


    It wasn’t a potlock, but one year I did bring deviled eggs to Thanksgiving. I was feeling adventurous, so I had added molasses to the yolk-mayo mixture and it came out black as asphalt. The looks I got were priceless, but everyone brave enough to try one claimed to love them and came back for seconds.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      That’s FASCINATING. I can see how molasses could add a nice sweet/tangy contrast to the mixture. But that would be horrifying to see!

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Honestly, if there were an easy way I knew of to peel boiled eggs, I might devil them every other week or so.

        1. NeedRain47*

          Leave them out of the fridge overnight or for at least 12 hours before boiling. It’s the only thing I’ve found that actually works. No, they won’t go bad.

        2. Elenna*

          This might be a coincidence (I don’t boil eggs all that often), but I’ve found that whenever I steam the eggs in just a few cm of water, rather than boiling them, they peel easily.
          (Also, putting them in ice water when you finish boiling them and peeling them underwater is supposed to help. The age of the eggs also matters – IIRC older eggs are easier to peel, but it could be the other way around – but that’s not something I can really control with store-bought eggs.)

          1. Chirpy*

            I rinse them in cold water immediately when they’re done and peel under water, which works pretty well.

            (And the way to get older eggs is just leave them in the fridge for like 3 weeks before cooking them, haha)

        3. Divergent*

          I’ve peeled a statistical number of eggs, and steaming them in an electric pressure cooker like the instant pot is reliably easy to peel.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            These all sound like good ideas and I appreciate them all, but having received an Instant Pot as a gift last year, I’m especially going to have to try that one.

        4. Lucien Nova*

          Warm the eggs gently first in a bowl of warm water, then very carefully ease them into the pot of boiling water with a spoon. Peels like a dream.

    2. L'étrangere*

      I had my first bad deviled eggs at a recent potluck. The only thing we could figure out is they used gloppy tasteless vegan mayonnaise. For deviled EGGS! But never mind

      1. Julia*

        But vegan mayonnaise and deviled eggs doesn’t make sense. Vegans don’t eat eggs so wouldnt be eating deviled eggs.

  37. Metadata Janktress*

    I love where I work a lot, but I’m just saying, I would be rushing to work for the boss in #4.

  38. beckercheez*

    The chili cookoff story with the winner being Wendy’s reminds me that my dad, who is NOT a cook, will submit his “ripoff chili” to his work’s annual chili cookoff and silent auction fundraiser. It was three or four different fast food/restaurant chilis, including Wendy’s, mixed together with supplemental ingredients if needed. At least he disclosed the recipe upon submission, and as far as I know he hasn’t won.

  39. Leah*

    I always laugh when I hear Wendy’s chili mentioned. Having worked there, I know how it was made. It may have changed, but back in the mid-90’s I worked there during college, and we would put a ton of burgers on the grill for lunch rush. Once they sat there for too long and didn’t get sold, we put them in a pan of water and left them on the stove for the rest of the day. Many hours later (or maybe even the next day), they got chopped up and used as chili meat. That was always really gross to me. But that was the procedure.

    1. Chirpy*

      That’s how Hardee’s does the sausage gravy, it’s the leftover sausage patties from the day before. They threw them in the fridge around 11 am when breakfast ended, but basically the same thing.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        My uncle used to work at the Swizzels factory in his teens and once told Mum that at the end of the day they swept up all the dust, crumbs and crap off the floor and made it into Love Hearts. I have no idea how true that was (I can see him just saying it to see if he was believed) but Mum believed him and won’t go near Love Hearts 40 years on.

    2. T*

      That’s literally what the dish chili is made for, and how any restaurant makes it. Like most heavily spiced stews, the purpose is to reduce food waste by using up old food that’s past the point of being palletable in its current form.

      1. Leah*

        It’s still gross to me, after seeing those burgers in that fatty water for hours on end. I prefer my chili with fresh meat.

      2. Water Snake*

        That might be how some people make chili now, but that’s not at all what the heritage is. It was made with cheaper cuts of meat, sure, bc it was working folks’ food. But it wasn’t the leftover this and that that was aging past its palatable life span. Those cuts were meat they had, and braising in a sauce with lots of chilis was the cooking method that evolved in the Texas-Mexican border area.

  40. Nea*

    Dare I say that I eat my hardboiled eggs with mustard? It’s really tasty. But I don’t bring them to work and I don’t call them deviled eggs.

  41. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    #1 reminds me of the story of someone who won an office chili cook-off with a “homemade” chili that consisted of equal parts of everyone else’s truly home-made chilis.

    1. ECHM*

      A family from our church has a party every October where guests each bring chili and dump it into a large pot. I’m generally a picky eater but I find it actually pretty good.

  42. Ash*

    I actually love #9. A beautiful example of subversion of gender norms. Oh you want me to cook for a company event? Sure, I’ll grab 3 jars off the shelf, mix them in the office on work time, and insist that I’m just as legit as everyone else :)

  43. looking for a new name*

    Buffet line story: years ago we went to a church that had the occasional potluck. The food was always great. I noticed that sometimes we’d go thru the line and all the chicken legs or brownies or something would be gone…and usually they were on the plates of teen-aged boys. By the time the next potluck rolled around, I was in charge and instituted a new system (which continued in potlucks thereafter). First up: families with small children, then senior citizens, then everyone else except teenagers. They were last. Also it is amazing when you bring a crockpot full of hot dogs and some buns (because you know your kids will eat them) how many adults will take one!

    1. Koifeeder*

      You know, remembering my teenage years, I both understand this rule completely and I would’ve been packing a lunchbox for the potluck if my parents made me go to it.

  44. Crazy Cat Lady*

    Part of the reason I’m so happy to be working from home. No food drama. I volunteered to make mac and cheese (which I do homemade), but was told “no” because someone else was bringing it. Theirs came from a box. Also no Secret Santas!

    1. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

      In other words, “You’re not allowed to bring homemade mac and cheese because Zeke is bringing boxed mac and cheese.”

      Were they afraid to hurt Zeke’s feelings?

      1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

        This directive had to have come from someone who either a) had never eaten homemade mac and cheese and had no context for its vast superiority to every boxed mix ever made, or b) had bought into the siren song of Zeke’s weeks of personally hyping up his own out-of-this-world mac and cheese.

  45. RagingADHD*

    All of these potluck stories this week have a song running through my head. Look up the duet videos circulating TikTok and YouTube on the theme “You can’t eat at everybody’s house.”

  46. Potluck*

    Somehow these stories make me really want to have a potluck! Both for the food and the potential drama

  47. Grandma*

    Pro tip: if you want your deviled eggs to be consumed before your coworker’s deviled eggs, just sprinkle the eggs with a dusting of paprika. It makes them pretty and people like pretty and they chose pretty first. :-)

  48. Ms Beasely*

    Worked at a major metropolitan electric utility company on the west coast that was flush with cash and not shy about flaunting it for employee luncheons and catered meetings. The only problem is temporary or contract employees were not allowed to eat or drink anything company furnished (even a cookie or bottle of water). They could attend and participate in the gathering or business required meeting, but not eat or drink a single company purchased item. If someone did, they were quickly reported and admonished and made to feel like a thief. There were many long term temps and contract workers there in various low to high level positions. It was awful and embarrassing. This policy even held for staff birthday celebrations where the company furnished the cake. No cake for you!

  49. Despachito*

    Call me a killjoy but why are potlucks at work so popular when they carry such a huge potential for conflicts? (People with potentially dubious kitchen hygiene, people who can’t/won’t cook, greedy grabbers, official or unofficial competing that can go terribly wrong, the need to cough up your own money and invest substantial effort into something completely non-work related you may not be interested in)?

    It would have much more sense to me if it is a church or another not-for-profit, non-work gathering, but if organized by employers, it seems to me they are just cheap guys who want to look good at the expense of someone else. If they really want to do something for their employees, why don’t they just order food for everyone (and of course pay for it), instead of forcing people to do a lot of extra work and to pay it from their own pockets?

    1. Ace in the Hole*

      I work for a public agency. There are strict rules against us purchasing food/beverages for staff outside of very limited circumstance… I literally have to justify it on safety grounds to get approval.

      So if we want any kind of celebration with refreshments, employees have to be the ones providing it. Usually we do potlucks where employees bring whatever side dishes they feel like and our top management pays out of pocket for the main dish (e.g. a few pizzas, a tray of bagels, etc). If someone doesn’t bring anything it’s no big deal, they still participate in the party.

  50. Vanny Hall*

    This must be a regional difference, because . . . what are “buns”? Around here the word is used only for hamburger or hotdog buns—bland, round rolls sliced in half—and why would anyone bring those to a potluck? Or anywhere, except to an event where hamburgers or hotdogs were being grilled (typically outdoors)?

    I’m so confused.

    1. kicking-k*

      I’m intrigued too. I was thinking sticky iced confections like sweetened breads, which I would also not immediately think of for an office do (not that I’ve ever been to a work potluck).

  51. lilsheba*

    Speaking of potlucks, my husband’s work just announced they are having a holiday one for the first time since the pandemic started. Personally the thought of them touching and eating food that god knows how many other people are touching gives me the willies. I’ve asked them to not participate because not only the pandemic still raging on, but RSV is running rampant around here and we are both still recovering from that. I’m dealing with breathing issues and I really don’t want a fresh case on top of that one. Who in their right mind thinks a potluck is a good idea right now?

  52. ENFP in Texas*

    “I witnessed someone from another group walk by with the entire tray that had been put out for the whole floor and carry it back to his desk. There were probably at least 75 brownies on it.”

    WTF is wrong with people?!?


  53. Jaclyn*

    A co-worker once brought in gazpacho (soup that’s served cold) and couldn’t understand why there was so much left at the end. We all thought it was salsa and ate reasonable salsa-sized portions with the tortilla chips that were placed directly next to it. The ladle and bowls did not tip us off.

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