the fraudulent bread pudding, the fig fight, and other food stories from work

All this week to get us in the holiday spirit, I’m going to be featuring holiday work stories readers have shared here in the past … and then updates season will start next week!

To kick us off, here are 12 of my favorite stories you shared about potlucks and other food gatherings at work earlier this month.

1. The savage

“It was your average office holiday season potluck. The room was festively decorated, thanks to some volunteers with holiday cheer, and Christmas music was playing on someone’s laptop. A colleague brought in a whole rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and placed it with the other food. It was hot and fresh – a lovely contribution – delivered just a few minutes before people would begin filing into the room to make their plates. ‘I’m going to go grab a knife from the kitchen so I can carve it up,’ my colleague said as she exited the room.

Dear reader, what happened next still haunts me to this very day. One of the office’s more chaotic characters stepped up to the buffet and announced that a knife was not needed. She then proceeded to rip the chicken carcass apart with her bare, unwashed hands. Another colleague and I watched in horror as she savagely tore the chicken limb from limb, her hands dripping with grease from the succulent, now ravaged meat. In the distance, Mariah Carey was singing (or was she screaming?). Our duty was now to warn the others. ‘Don’t eat the chicken,’ we whispered as more guests began filling up the room. ‘Don’t eat the chicken.’”

2. The divinity candy

“Around the holidays, it’s not unusual for our office break room to contain an assortment of treats gifted to us from vendors or customers. Several years ago during this most festive time of year, I noticed a tray of what looked like divinity candy sitting out on the break room table. Divinity is not my favorite holiday candy, but it was early in the season, and the pickings were slim, so I decided to have a piece. Just as I took a bite, a coworker walked in and said, ‘Oh! You’re trying out my candy – let me know what you think of it!’ By this time the bite had well and truly settled on my palate, and let me tell you, I had opinions. Being a polite sort of person in real life, I was hesitant to tell her what I thought (which would have been difficult without swallowing, which was not an option at this point), but I can tell you – it tasted like a dog turd rolled in powdered sugar. Or what I assume a dog turd would taste like, having never sampled a dog turd myself. I stepped around my coworker to grab a paper towel to ostensibly wipe my mouth (and discreetly spit out the offending ‘candy’), then turned back around to address my coworker. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever had anything like it,’ says I, in what I hope was a pleasant voice. ‘What’s it called?’ Coworker replies, ‘I haven’t really thought of a name for it – it’s just something I experimented with.’ Then she tells me how she made it.

Y’all. It was mashed potatoes. And not even real potatoes, but the boxed potato flakes. Prepared in the normal way with butter, milk and salt, then mixed with peanut butter, Karo syrup, and powdered sugar, then rolled in another healthy dose of powdered sugar. Dear coworker had made too many mashed potatoes for dinner the night before, and in an effort not to waste food, had decided to try her hand as a confectioner. I’m having flashbacks of the nauseating flavor and texture just typing this out. So gross. So, so gross. I mumbled something polite that probably came out as more of an ‘Oh! Hrrmm, interesting’ or similar, then bolted from the room to warn the rest of my coworkers NOT to try the ‘divinity’ in the break room.”

3. The chili

“Work did a chili cook-off. We had a couple employees who don’t eat meat who basically got mocked by several other coworkers (think those guys who proudly brag about how they won’t eat vegetables and ‘pick the green bits out’ of chicken pot pie, etc.) when they mentioned bringing vegetarian chili.

I got into a Mood about it, and my Moods can be … petty. I decided to bring a vegan option (I wasn’t vegan whatsoever). I spoke to friends of mine who are, though, got all their best recipe tips, tested and worked on it for a month and a half leading up. We ate so much vegan chili. We were so sick of it, but I was bound and determined to figure this out because I hate people who think it’s hilarious to make other people feel bad about what they eat.

I entered my vegan chili in the cook-off but nobody listed ingredients so you didn’t know whose chili had what and it could be ‘so and so’s secret recipe,’ although of course the vegetarian coworker who participated made a veggie version, etc.

The coworkers who had mocked my vegetarian coworkers also mocked their bean-based chili offerings, of course (their chili was so good actually!).

They LOVED mine, which to them had what looked like meat in it. Talked it up!

I explained it was vegan.

Not a single animal product involved.

Even though I didn’t win anything, I kind of still felt like I did when I saw the look on the one guy’s face.”

4. The lactose revenge

“Several of my coworkers are painfully lactose intolerant. I also work with an extremely diverse group of people so anything cheese- and meat-related isn’t optimal due to religious reasons. I compiled a list of catering places of a similar price range but with more non-dairy options and asked the admin to please consider literally any options as pizza excludes 30% of the office.

She refused. It is always pizza for company lunches and catering, even with holidays.

The Fart Wars have begun. A coordinated crop dusting attack of lactose intolerant people with just enough Lactaid in themselves to not create a mess will walk passed her desk in the tiny welcome area.”

5. The bread pudding

“I make an awesome bread pudding, if I do say so myself. The reason it’s so awesome is I make it using pound cake. At a long ago job, I took it to the first holiday potluck I attended there. I brought along copies of the recipe because hey, someone always asks for it. The wicked witch of the finance department (I’ve worked with many lovely finance departments — she drove off so many employees in her department, including three finance directors in the five years I worked there, but that’s another story) raised a stink about how it was NOT bread pudding – it had no bread! And there is no such thing as cake pudding, what was I trying to pull? She accused me of trying to invent something and it just shouldn’t be done, especially at a potluck where if you sign up for a dessert, you must bring a traditional potluck dessert, not something made up!

In the days ahead, she filed a complaint with HR as after reading the recipe closely, she discovered I used a boxed pound cake mix and recommended a specific generic brand that, in my opinion, made a fantastic pound cake. The HR director danced around a strong suggestion that in future I not bring a bread pudding made with pound cake – this was a city government and there were unions involved and finance witch spent a great deal of time being counseled but never crossed a line to anything fireable.

So next year, I brought a bread pudding made with chocolate croissants. There was a hissy fit of epic proportions but every crumb of my bread pudding was gone be the end of the potluck.”

(The recipe is here.)

6. The best and brightest

“I worked in a tech company years ago which had a huge institutional ego problem, as in ‘we only hire the best and brightest, etc.’ and we got both our regular toaster and toaster oven taken away from us, the former because someone tried to make a grilled cheese in it apparently not understanding the thermoplastic nature of cheese and setting the (vertical) toaster on fire when it melted onto the heating element (as above) and the latter for putting a slice of pizza wrapped in plastic wrap and melting the plastic, filling the kitchen with petroleum-product-based smoke and fumes.

So, just in case you ever feel a creeping inferiority complex around someone who went to Harvard or MIT … don’t.

7. The stealth party

“At former workplace: On a Wednesday, my direct supervisor told me that she was buying lunch for me and her other direct reports as a holiday party. Sounds good! Then she tells me it’s a secret and if anyone asks, to say it’s a meeting. Okaaaay, little weird but whatevs — free food.

Thursday, as planned, we all go to her office. There’s food, but we’re all crammed into her office, the door is closed, and she mentions that her boss doesn’t know that we’re having this party and she doesn’t want him to find out. Errr, okay? She tells us that we’re doing a great job (yay!) no matter what anyone else might say (wait, what?) and to eat and enjoy. It’s awkward.

At one point, there’s a knock on the door and my boss sidles up to the door and sticks her head out. It’s the person who handles payroll and she is clearly confused why she can’t come in the office, but nevertheless she tells boss that she has processed the paperwork for the raises and just needs my boss to sign off on them. So now we’re all wondering who is getting a raise. (Spoiler: It wasn’t me!) My boss is clearly regretting trying to hold stealth meeting/party and more or less kicks us all out after that.”

8. The figs

At a Thanksgiving party in my old office we had a HUGE cheese and fruit plate that had a giant mound of whole figs. Several people in the office had never seen a whole fig before. One asked, ‘What’s this?’ Someone else said, ‘It’s a fig.’ ‘A what?’ “a fig. You know, a fig.’ ‘What’s a fig?’ Others joined in (possibly emboldened by the wine that was available): ‘A fig is a fig is a fig!’ ‘Are you figging kidding me, you don’t know what a fig is?’

Finally someone shouted, ‘I don’t give a flying fig!’ which prompted someone to throw a fig. It became a game of dodge fig. Luckily the skirmish was restricted to figs, which are easy to clean up (and I have no problem with wiping off a stray fig and eating it – no sense in wasting it).

One colleague evidently collected a lot of them and over the next few months people would find figs mysteriously appearing on their keyboards, in their desk drawers, in their mail boxes…”

9. The coffin

“A few jobs ago, I was the manager of a front line team in a theme park/hospitality adjacent business. We were given a budget of $500 a month from our corporate office for morale/team-building, and a lot of the times, that meant food. (Before people come in and say we should have been giving raises instead of pizza parties, I totally agree, and it was something I fought really hard for … but at the end of the day, I wasn’t the person who dictated labor budgets and didn’t have the power to make final decisions.)

One time, I decided, as a fun Halloween treat, to get a coffin of donuts from VooDoo Donuts — it was 50 or so donuts displayed in a literal 3-4 foot pinewood coffin. It was a nightmare to carry to my car from the shop, and from my car to our work locations — I got so many odd looks haha. The team LOVED it — the donuts were delicious, and the coffin was super fun and unique … but immediately started causing massive fights. A few different people decided that the coffin was up for grabs, and insisting that it would be going home with them. I had to step in and say that the coffin wasn’t going home with anyone, which prompted several kidnap attempts, as well as people running to other leaders on the team, trying to get permission despite the fact that I already said no. It culminated in a screaming fight between a couple of my employees (a known troublemaker and, surprisingly, one of my quietest employees) which I had to break up.

I then promptly removed the coffin from the common break area where it was clearly causing problems, moved it to the leadership office, and wrote ‘PROPERTY OF BUSINESS – DO NOT REMOVE’ in big bold letters on the side. It lived there for several months, and at one point we used it to hold various paper supplies. I intended to eventually raffle it off to an employee in a fair way to get it out of our office, but then the pandemic shut our business down. I have no idea where that coffin ended up, but I’m assuming someone on the crew brought in to break the business space down saw their opportunity and ferreted it away.”

10. The secret ingredient

“Many years ago, a colleague made a crockpot dish for an after-work office celebration. The dish was delicious – every morsel eaten.

Days later, the coworker confided in me when he dropped his supplies in the kitchen early that morning, he plugged in the crockpot not realizing it on, in fact set on ‘high.’ Inside the crockpot were the tomatoes he planned to use IN A PLASTIC PRODUCE BAG. At lunchtime, he went to assemble his dish so it could heat all afternoon. The plastic bag had completely melted into the now-cooked tomatoes. Not sure what to do (???), he just added the rest of the ingredients, let it cook all afternoon, and served it!”

11. The missing slice

“At a party for something I can’t remember a woman brought a beautiful home made cake … with one slice missing. A small sign on a toothpick was stuck in the cake: ‘Larry was here.’ (Larry being the baker’s hubby.)”

12. The farm

“One year, as a team building activity, my company had us go to a local farm that was one of the big attractions of the city, and the activity was for us to prepare our own 1890’s style meal working with a wood fired stove, campfire, and other 19th century tools and skills. They broke us into groups and each group prepared a part of the meal. The worst part was was that it was outdoors on a 96 degree day, and some of the work was strenuous and difficult. The people who worked there were supposed to be there to help, but if you asked them questions they were super vague and kind of patronizing.

There were SO many issues, like not enough cooking utensils, the campfire stove took way too long boil water for the potatoes, and … one person literally had a heart attack and had to go to the ER.

When we finished we had to sit on picnic tables outdoors, and we all looked ragged like we’d been through something traumatic. Then after all that, we all had to clean the tables and wash all the dishes, take the trash out, etc. Almost no one was into it, and we haven’t done a team-building activity since.”

{ 509 comments… read them below }

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Side note about #2: Potato candy is absolutely a thing. I’m a bit of a vintage cookbook nerd and she did not make this up–it will come right up on Google.

      1. Clorinda*

        Yes, but it sounds like this lady didn’t start with a potato candy recipe. She just kept adding sugar to potatoes until they thickened up.

        1. Mongrel*

          Yeah, most people add ‘stuff’ to their mash for an evening meal; salt, pepper, butter, milk etc. whereas most recipes will require it to be unadulterated both for purposes of taste and so that their additions are balanced correctly. That goes double for powdered sugar, that just needs a hint of moisture to dissolve, so if you’ve added moisture back you’re going to need a more sugar to keep the texture

        2. AngryOctopus*

          Oh yes. Potato candy starts with unadulterated potato. It’s a big thing in Maine (both potatoes and potato candy). But you don’t make mashed potatoes and then add sweet stuff to them!
          Also–who doesn’t know what to do with leftover mashed potatoes? You add more butter to them the next day and eat them!

        3. Bern Notice*

          Agreed – I learned how to make potato candy as a girl scout , and you used PLAIN boiled potatoes, not mashed potatoes prepared with butter, cream and salt! I actually make Irish Potatoes using a boiled potato as the base, and you just add butter and powdered sugar to it, so it’s very similar to the potato candy. What pot-luck lady made sounds like an abomination! LOL

      2. word nerd*

        I’m a project manager for a volunteer site that makes digitized books available for free for books out of copyright (Project Gutenberg)–if you know of any good ones published in 1928 or earlier that have an electronic copy available online, feel free to mention them by name because cookbooks are usually pretty popular and I like running them for proofreaders.

        1. JaneDough(not)*

          word nerd, if you see this — I ***LOVE*** Project Gutenberg! Thanks to that website, I have some Edith Wharton and James Joyce on my tablet, in case of emergency. Best wishes to you and to everyone who keeps it going.

          (I had planned to volunteer as a proofreader in early 2023 — I’ve been a copy editor for almost 30 years — but I became ill this past January; I hope to be able to volunteer in 2024.)

          1. word nerd*

            Lovely to hear! I’m always amazed by the numbers of people who download books from PG every month!

            I’m a copyeditor too, and I find proofreading so fun! I hope you’ll get a chance to volunteer next year–feel free to shoot me a message if you do join since I’m pretty active on the Distributed Proofreaders forums. My username there is aninum.

            1. Ariaflame*

              I a bit busy with life to be on the forums much, but I’m still doing my page a day. (Aria on there, since it was early enough in my internet existence I didn’t need to add extras)

      3. ENFP in Texas*

        I want to see B. Dylan Hollis make this…

        (if you don’t know who he is, check out his “Vintage Recipe” videos on YouTube)

        1. Engineer*

          He has made potato candy – I think 2 years ago? Maybe 3? With the peanut butter swirl too. Turned out properly, since he actually followed the recipe.

            1. Freya*

              Me either – I forwarded that particular video to a friend of mine because it’s gluten free sweets!

      4. dot*

        Came here to say this but yes, she absolutely did not make it correctly! Potato candy is very rich from the amount of sugar needed to get the right consistency. It’s… interesting. My husband liked it a lot more than I did.

      5. IneffableBastard*

        Potato candy is made in my homecountry with potatoes and lots of sugar, never with mashed potato leftovers and other ingredients… The purple potatoes make an amazing treat, usually sided by pumpkin candy and other Festa Junina typical foods. They’re delicious.

      6. LikesToSwear*

        I had never heard of it before I moved to the east coast. I’ve liked the commercial “Irish Potatoes” I’ve tried, but I’ll have to see about finding some that actually have potatoes in them to try!

      7. ADevice*

        Years ago we went on a trip to Iceland, and did a series of day tours to explore as much as we could. One day we booked a trip, unaware this day was the Icelandic equivalent of Xmas/Thanksgiving/Easter/Name your super popular long holiday weekend, and the airline running the flight which was supposed to collect our tour group from the south of Iceland and takes us back to Reykjavik, was overwhelmed transferring the entire population of the country to the Westman Islands, the traditional destination. So we got stranded and abandoned for five or six hours in this pleasant, but boring town with nothing to do but wander around some food stalls set up for a kid’s football festival happening that day.

        We tried a few delicacies, as I will eat anything once, and when we encountered a woman selling chocolate sweets, we both tried a sample. As we took a bite, I asked the stallholder what they were made of. She said ‘Potato’.

        Friends, it was not good. Not dog-turd bad, but not a taste sensation. The look of outrage on that woman’s face when we politely declined to buy a box of the things still amazing me. She was selling chocolate covered potato mash, and we were the weird ones?

      8. Dawbs*

        i make it every year and have to explain it a lot. but the chemistry is interesting!

        to be fair, i use my great great gran’s recipe that calls for “jack frost sugar” and but I bear in mind that my great grab said “it is never the same twice. Just add sugar until it looks right”

      9. Harper*

        Yes! And it’s delicious and does not taste like potatoes when it’s done right. It tastes like peanut butter fudge.

      10. Mmmbop*

        I was hoping someone said this! I love potato candy. My aunt used to make it for the holidays and I get some every year at a local harvest fest.

    2. Shirley Keeldar*

      Maybe she knew somebody from Maine….Needhams are popular around here. They are chocolate-dipped candies with a filling of mashed potato, coconut, sugar, and condensed milk. I promise they are delicious and do not taste in the last like dog turds.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      “In the distance, Mariah Carey was singing (or was she screaming?)” made me laugh just as hard the second time around as it did in the original thread. Incredible. I’m going to think of the rotisserie chicken decimation every time I hear that song this year!

      1. AnonForThisForSure*

        I’m not sure which one I’d rather do, listen to her screeching out that awful song or eat chicken “carved” with a random person’s bare hands. (And I don’t even eat meat!) It’s like a choice between a pounding headache and tummy trouble!

        (Sorry, I know I’m a bit of a humbug but I really hate Christmas music and I REALLLLLYY hate Mariah in all forms. Seven-octave range, my foot.)

  1. UnicornUnicorn*

    #2 is Potato Candy. I grew up eating it at Christmas every year in Ohio! A true depression-era special.

    1. Your Social Work Friend*

      I came here to say this. Potato candy is delicious (at least when made by my in laws neighbors in rural WV) when it starts it potato journey intending to become candy.

      1. Lydia*

        Exactly. It is not made from leftover mashed potatoes with butter and salt and all the savory additions.

    2. Stormfeather*

      My thoughts definitely went to potato candy (which is amaaazing), but given the “something I experimented with” and that it looked like divinity candy, I’m wondering what sort of monstrosity it’s possible she made.

      In potato candy, the potatoes aren’t really a recognizable ingredient, more a catalyst for lots and lots (and lots and lots) of powdered sugar to turn into a dough. And I’ve personally not heard of syrup being included (though others could have), nor is the peanut butter mixed in.

      All that being said, I can absolutely see mashed potatoes being used as a starting point for candy knowing this! But I could also see it being a catastrophe done wrong.

      1. Stormfeather*

        As an aside, wonder how much of a regional thing this is since I’m from Western Maryland, and I’ve seen comments about West Virginia and western Pennsylvania so far.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Mississippi here, and it’s definitely a thing I grew up with and loved. I made some for a Christmas party last year, and I forgot two things: how much SUGAR it takes to make it into a dough, and how unghastly SWEET it is. Didn’t go over well, even the kids steered clear. I ended up ditching the rest of it, and retired my recipe.

        1. GasketGirl*

          I’m from Illinois and I’ve heard of potato candy. It’s been a ridiculously long time since I’ve had it, but I have heard of it.

        2. sparkle emoji*

          I’m in eastern PA(Philly Area) and I always see potato candy at the grocery stores around
          St Patrick’s day. Most of the recipes I’m finding for that version contain coconut and are rolled in cocoa powder.

          1. shannon*

            Different candy. The St Patricks Day treat isn’t actual potato, but cream cheese and powdered sugar.

        3. LikesToSwear*

          Southeast Pennsylvania as well, though mainly what I’ve seen are a popular commercial variety that does not actually contain potatoes, it just looks like them.

      2. Lady Kelvin*

        We also grew up eating it (90s western PA). Here’s the recipe for anyone who might be interested in trying it:

        A spoonful of mashed potatoes (preferably without butter and salt, but not the end of the world).
        A pound or two of powdered sugar
        Peanut butter

        Mix the mashed potatoes with about a pound of powdered sugar. Mix for a long time. The dough will turn to liquid first and then into a rollable dough (like sugar cookie dough). If it seems weird, keep mixing.

        Using powdered sugar as a flour, roll the potato sugar dough into a rough rectangular shape. Spread a healthy portion of peanut butter over the dough as though it was a jell roll. Roll along the long edge into a swiss roll shape. Chill. Slice and eat.

        If its done right, it won’t taste like mashed potatoes. We used to use leftover potatoes from dinner, but they didn’t usually have a ton on salt or butter in them.

        1. UnicornUnicorn*

          Oh, my family’s recipe calls for a whole boiled and then mashed potato! You still can’t taste it in the end, because of all that powdered sugar. I could only ever eat like one or two pieces of it because it is sooooo rich.

          1. Stormfeather*

            Hah, I have a serious sweet tooth so I love the stuff, but I still couldn’t eat too many pieces all at one time. I think we usually used leftovers from our mashed potatoes from dinner, but I remember my mom saying you could use a bit of banana if you wanted. Never tried it that way.

            Basically though, if your arm isn’t screaming with the agony of a thousand fiery suns and threatening to just abdicate from your body, you haven’t stirred it enough.

    3. Pikachu*

      I’m from the western edge of Ohio and have never heard of this or anything like it in my life! Crazy

    4. No heights*

      Done well, it’s delicious! Obviously this wasn’t done well. Hopefully this won’t sour the poster on trying the good stuff.

  2. cindylouwho*

    #10: He really said “Have you heard of consuming micro-plastics? Well how about macro-plastics!”

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The first or second year I took over turkey carving duties for the family at Thanksgiving, I was having trouble getting the stuffing out. I finally got into the neck with the big spoon and pulled out the stuffing, along with a bag with the neck and an internal organ. Apparently, there were 2 bags, and my aunt got one bag out with a few bits, and just thought they’d forgotten to put the neck in.

      Fortunately, it was waxed paper, not plastic.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        I think everyone who’s ever cooked a chicken or turkey has accidentally left a bag of giblets inside it.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          When I was in high school, my mom had my sister remove the giblets, etc. Is my sister someone who enjoys cooking? Not especially, but she was a straight A student in her biology classes.

      2. Mister_L*

        This reminds me of a (cute?) prank video, where the parents hid a chicken in the turkey and told the teenage daughter: “Look, it’s a baby”.

        1. No no no all the way home*

          And if I recall correctly the daughter was traumatized thinking they’d killed a mother and baby to consume for Thanksgiving. I imagine she’s vegan now.

            1. La Triviata*

              How about turducken – a turkey stuffed with a duck and a chicken (can’t remember which is stuffed into which). I think it originates in Louisiana, but it’s seemingly a delicacy,

    2. NotTheSameAaron*

      Once on a company picnic, my assigned task was to stir an enormous pot of spaghetti. The spoon had a plastic bowl and a metal handle. When the spaghetti was wanted to be served, I lifted out the spoon, only to discover that the plastic had completely melted away. I didn’t mention it and there were no complaints. We ended up disposing of most of it anyway.

      1. Stipes*

        Yikes! I would at least warn people so they can choose whether to take an informed risk! Plastic is not something that belongs in your stomach.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yeah all of these stories ending with “no one was told and no one complained that they had eaten plastic” are horrifying, not funny!

          1. Clare*

            Yeah the plastic stories upset me. Sure, nobody can taste it but that’s one of the ways to get a workplace cancer cluster. Please everyone, just own up and throw it out. Accidents happen. You’re not losing face, my respect for you will go up for knowing that you didn’t try to conceal it.

            1. I've got the shrimp*

              I have seen the phrase “You can’t eat at everybody’s house” before and never really thought about it, but THIS is the reason.

              Like, an ENTIRE plastic bag was melted into the crockpot? The head of the spoon??? What on earth :(

          2. Anonymousse*

            Seriously, I spent two years getting unfun exams for gasrptro issues that mysteriously vanished and who knows- it could have been someone passing off melted plastic as chili? He didn’t know what to do? You unplug it and don’t serve melted plastic to your coworkers! Jesus.

        2. NotTheSameAaron*

          The bottom half was one sticky mass of noodles. I like to think this was because the plastic had sunk to the bottom.

          1. Zelda*

            All things considered, I think the plastic part coming unglued, or a little spoke of plastic that went through a hole in the metal breaking, and letting the bowl of the spoon come loose is far, FAR more likely than the plastic melting.

          2. Anonymousse*

            So…you only slightly poisoned your coworkers, not THAT bad.

            I really hope you treat other people with more respect these days.

        3. Glen*

          there’s no way it actually melted. A plastic that melts below 100C is never going to be used for a spoon, and there absolutely would have been complaints if it were. It broke.

    3. Stipes*

      I feel sick from having read that one. Gah. If I needed another reason to steer clear of coworker potlucks.

    4. Tammy 2*

      For my own emotional well-being, I am choosing to believe this was one of those biodegradable plastics made out of corn.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, me too!

        Given the choice between the rotisserie chicken that was ripped apart with unwashed hands and the plastic, I’d take my chances with the chicken.

  3. Cedarthea*

    #1 – Okay unwashed is not okay, but I come from a family that my grandfather ran a Swiss rotisserie chicken restaurant from the 1950s to the 1980s. Not Swiss Chalet for my Canadian friends, although his first buisness partner did turn his half of their business into Swiss Chalet after they parted ways in Montreal.

    This is my bonafides to say, that the only way to get all the meat off a chicken is with your fingers. At his restaurant the expectation is that you would pull the chicken apart with your fingers and that was how I was raised. Back in the day Swiss Chalet would bring out a little bowl of warm lemon water to wash off your fingers.

    That said, I would never do it with unwashed hands, especially when feeding others. However, if tasked with serving up rotisserie chicken, I would 1000% use my WASHED (and probably gloved in a food service setting) hands to pull the breast off to slice it.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, but not at an office party. There are settings where you just sacrifice some chicken scraps for the decorum of not tearing it apart with your hands. People can gnaw the drumsticks once they’ve been **cut** off the rest of the bird.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Loved that place – haven’t been in a long time but there was one in St Jerome on the way to the Laurentians we used to stop at.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      I use my hands to pull apart roasted chickens to make things like pulled chicken tacos, and I use food prep gloves! Even at my own house for food that I am eating! Because that is gross and having chicken under your nails is gross.

      1. Lydia*

        Or, rather, it’s your preference because calling it gross across the board can come across as pretty judgmental.

        1. Misty_Meaner*

          Is there honestly a circumstance where having chicken under one’s fingernails is NOT gross? I mean… c’mon. There’s being judgmental and then there’s being overly sensitive and judgmental about other peoples’ judgments!

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I gotta say, my hands have never been more moisturized than when I was doing a butchery class and was cleaning up some trimmed fat so we could render it for baking with. I was washing my hands like every 10 minutes and I have incredibly dry, sensitive skin so normally I’d be a mess. But apparently leaf lard is very moisturizing.

              1. CommanderBanana*

                It is! A lot of early skin treatment recipes were basically some sort of animal fat mixed with some sort of perfuming agent. I also have crazy dry skin. Any sort of moisturizer, lotion or balm that is not water-based will work better than anything water-based.

          1. Rose*

            But why would you not just wash your hands after? Saying touching your own food is gross is a little precious.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              Because after I make a roast chicken, all that’s left after the chicken is eaten gets stripped and turned into stock or chicken soup? And I have long acrylic nails and don’t like having chicken caked underneath them or risking breaking one? And it’s way easier and faster to put on a pair of food prep gloves and then take them off and toss them than it is to strip the chicken carcass bare-handed and then have to deal with getting the chicken out from under my fingernails?

          2. Wendy Darling*

            I mean it’s definitely not my favorite but I’m not like actively repulsed by it. I’ve taken chicken off the bone with my (clean, washed) hands before and it’s fine? You just wash your hands afterwards.

            I keep my nails quite short though, so possibly if you had longer nails it might be a bigger deal? I dunno.

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, I don’t understand it either. I mean, it’s not actively pleasant, but I don’t find touching uncooked meat with my bare hands particularly gross, although I will wash them with plenty of soap and water before and after.

              The same thing applies to eating cooked chicken on the bone, although there I’ll draw the line at only eating food I’ve touched with my bare hands, rather than other people.

              1. CommanderBanana*

                I’m referring to pulling apart a cooked chicken carcass. Like for making soup or stock. I do often use food prep gloves for stuff like making fried chicken or coating stuff in marinade, just because it’s easier and less harsh on my skin to just flip the gloves off and into the bin than scrubbing down in between steps.

                I guess it’s like free speech – I may not like having cooked meat under my fingernails, but I’ll defend your right to do it.

            2. AngryOctopus*

              I mean, it may depend on how much chicken you’re scraping off the rib cage, etc. Taking chicken off the bone is often kinda greasy from rendered fat, but the meat comes off in bigger pieces. If you’re trying to get as much breast meat as possible, you may end up digging on the ribs. My nails are pretty short and I definitely get chicken stuck under them when deconstructing. It can be hard to pry out.

          3. Lydia*

            I was thinking more along the lines of using bare hands to pull apart chicken, because blanket statements about how people prefer to do things is, actually, judgmental. But you do you.

            1. Fungible token*

              Of all the blanket statements one can make, I’d offer that saying pulling chicken with your bare hands is gross is one of the least egregious.

          4. CommanderBanana*

            Man, surely I thought I’d found the one thing the entire internet could agree on – that having chicken meat caked under your fingernails was, in fact, gross.

            I amend my previous statement to say that I, Commander Banana, personally find having chicken meat caked under my fingernails to be gross, possibly because I have long nails (which do aid and abet in said chicken carcass picking, even clad in food prep gloves), but that if you, Lydia, enjoy having chicken meat caked under your fingernails, it is not my place to judge.*

            *I still reserve the right not to eat chicken that you’ve clawed apart with your bare hands though.

          5. CommanderBanana*

            Now that I think about it, I’m sure my dog would love to have chicken under her nails, so I amend my amendment to my previous statement to add an exception clause for said fingernail-meat enjoyment.

        2. amoeba*

          Yeah, like… I touch food with my bare (washed, obviously) hands all the time when cooking/cutting/baking… Not liking the feeling on one’s hands, sure, valid reason, but I’d say it’s not inherently more gross than… cutting up vegetables for a salad. Which I most definitely don’t wear gloves for so yeah, I’ve touched those tomatoes. And even the cheese. With my bare hands. (Especially the cheese, because crumbling instead of cutting up feta is much better in my opinion!)

          1. CommanderBanana*

            I do most of my at home food prep with bare, washed hands, but when doing something like clawing chicken meat from a chicken carcass, I prefer to wear gloves because I have long nails, and having chicken meat caked under my nails I find, me, personally and no one else, to be pretty gross and also hard to remove.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              Yeah my nails are short enough that nothing can really *cake*, and anything that does get stuck under there comes out easily when I wash my hands, so I suspect that’s the difference.

              I also don’t try THAT hard to get all the meat off the bone, especially because I’m saving the bones for stock so anything left on the bone is simply fated to be delicious soup later.

    3. Samwise*

      Poultry shears make short work of a whole bird. I can cut up a chicken or turkey with a knife, the joints are in expected places and the fat is not too fatty. Duck, however…

      Anyway, poultry shears are great for cutting neat pieces of a rotisserie chicken. I recommend. Put your name on the shears, however, some a** will try to steal them otherwise (or cut up the chicken yourself, then take away the shears. Sad that I know this!)

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Yes! If I’m doing something like spatchcocking a Cornish hen or similar that’s what I use to cut the chicken spine out.

    4. MusicWithRocksIn*

      In my 20’s I probably would have stood helplessly by – but now adays I absolutely would have said “HEY – stop that, you haven’t washed your hands! Wait for the knife!!”

      1. My cat is the employee of the month*

        I’ve had bread pudding made from cinnamon rolls, and that was amazing.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I used to live in the same building with a bakery that around the holidays would make bread pudding out of their day-old croissants and it was incredible.

        1. Chili Heeler*

          I worked at a bakery that used leftover brioche and croissants for bread pudding. The croissants were already made with luxurious amounts of butter and the brioche was also rich. The result was stunning.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I wrote down that recipe the second I saw the link. Husband really wants me to make this gingerbread cake with syrup for Christmas, but man, this one’s neck and neck.

        What do you think–custard pudding sauce or whiskey pudding sauce?

    1. triss merigold*

      I’m so baffled. She went to HR because a potluck dish tasted good. That makes no sense, but what makes even less sense is HR following up at ALL.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Pound cake bread pudding sounds kinda gross to me (too rich, not enough texture) but going to HR because you don’t like a dish at a potluck is also bananapants.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        It sounds like they either have a process they have to follow for HR reports (maybe because union?) or that that office has one of those HR people who thinks everything has to be passed along to the person it’s about, no matter how stupid it is.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. That’s the thing the REALLY blew me away. There are a lot of very strange fish in the world, and getting bent out of shape that someone brought something that “tastes too good” or “is not real” are both well known types of craziness. But that a supposedly competent HR took it seriously?! That’s a totally new one on me.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Oh, man, this forever. You know HR just didn’t want to deal with her nuttier than squirrel poo rantings so LW got to hear about how her “fake” bread pudding was the problem.

        1. Zelda*

          If nobody is allowed to “make something up,” then tell me, how TAF did pretzel salad come to be?

          It’s a real thing; it’s entered the culture enough that there are multiple versions of it floating around. But for any one not familiar, it involves strawberry jello, thin pretzels, and cream cheese. WTH was the first person to do this *thinking*?!?

          Or does this lady think that all species of dessert were created in their perfect forms to populate the potluck tables in the Garden of Eden?

          1. NotRealAnonForThis*

            My suspicion is that its the 60s/70s and church picnics that created this insanity. Nope, haven’t looked it up.

            We frequently ate lemon jello that was full of carrot shreds, delicate celery slices, and sometimes radish slices too in the early 80s (pre-AC for my household), which for some unknown reason, all of us kids ADORED because it was an ice cold dessert as a main course, regardless of vegetables. I’ve attempted it since, and its just not quite the same as an adult.

      2. Lydia*

        I don’t know if they took it seriously so much as they were hoping to appease the yelling lady by letting her know they had spoken to the “offender” and asked them to never, ever do it again.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          Yes, that’s how I imagined it…the poor HR person was just thinking “how on earth can I make this not be happening” and mumbled something about speaking to somebody and was then trapped, like a saber-toothed cat in a tar pit, and could not escape from said speaking.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah but what they should’ve done was look at her very seriously and say that calling it bread pudding when it was made with pound cake is not an HR issue and to please cease immediately.

      3. Ccbac*

        I assumed it had something to do with the workplace being a government office and the explicit recommendation of a specific brand of cake (which could be viewed, it one was willing to stretch, as the government endorsing that brand).

    2. Impending Heat Dome*

      Pound cake pudding! Which sounds amazing btw. (Sounds sort of like chomeur pudding too.)

      1. Sssssssssssssss*

        I’ve made pouding chomeur and I can’t see it as a bread pudding, but why not? Because the texture of pouding chomeur is not like a pound cake. (I’m overdue to make one of those….)

    3. Dek*

      I’m trying to make it make sense and I can’t. Like…that HR actually…talked to her about it? On what grounds?!

    4. Sara without an H*

      The thing I’ve always liked about bread pudding was that you sort of made it up as you went along, since you didn’t have to fuss over exact proportions. What was this person thinking???

      And, btw, the recipe sounds delicious.

  4. Share the Food*

    Gotta say that there have been many times when a wee bit of a baked good I’ve made for a potluck has been distributed to my husband and kids before I brought it to the function. I didn’t ever make a lot of baked goodies, and to make them to take somewhere else, while my family was looking longingly at them…and knowing there might not be any left…that’s what I did. And just told everyone that’s why I did it!

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      The first time I made pumpkin pie out of a real pumpkin, it was for my aunt’s Thanksgiving party. It had a sliver missing; my excuse was that I had to make sure it was good enough for company.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      One year I baked a carrot cake for the bake sale at my church’s big annual fundraiser. This provoked much criticism from my family. Since then I have made gingersnaps and held some back for the family.

        1. Dek*

          Man, I miss when my mom was still getting the hang of making and decorating petit fours, and well, SOMEone had to eat all the mistakes.

          The delicious, delicious mistakes.

      1. La Triviata*

        A friend of my mother’s, in the interest of making her carrot cake healthier, cut the sugar over a period of time until she was making it with no sugar at all. It ended up pretty much inedible, as much for the texture as the taste.

    3. Roland*

      Plus no one ever wants to take the first slice of a cake/quiche/pie/whatever. Taking a strategic slice out is a good idea!

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I always, always make a couple mini pies or cupcakes of whatever I’m bringing for an event because I want to do quality control for something I’m serving to a bunch of people, and because my spouse always wants to try it, too. I just use a muffin tin.

    5. SadieMae*

      So: A guy goes to the doctor, feeling awful, and the doctor says, “I’m so sorry, Phil, but you’re gonna die – tonight, in your sleep – and there’s nothing I can do for you.” Phil goes home and tells his wife, and the two of them comfort each other as best they can.

      After a little while, Phil decides to take one last walk, alone, in the lovely woods behind their house. When he comes back, a fresh batch of cookies is cooling on the kitchen counter, and his wife is getting more of them out of the oven. They smell delicious. He reaches for a cookie, but his wife smacks his hand away.

      “Phil, stop that!” she says indignantly. “These are for the funeral!”

    6. New Mom (of 1 3/9)*

      My husband and I have been together for about 10 years. I used to be ruthless that pretty much everything would always go to the [church bake sale/family function/what have you]. Now I’m wiser and make sure to save a little for him. =)

    7. desk platypus*

      I’d be all right if it was a slice or divided portions.

      But one time a coworker said the cake was almost missing a chunk before her dad, who she lives with, nearly stuck his entire hand in there to scoop some out for himself. She stopped him in time but laughed while telling it like it was the funniest, most normal thing and not super gross. Another time she said there was only a very small portion of pigs in a blanket (not enough for even half the department) because her dad ate the rest that morning. I’m just assuming her dad has touched everything she brings.

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      Lucky. The last year my wife worked in office, I came home to find her gone, a table full of freshly baked cookies, and a post it note on top of them labeled ” Donkey – NO.”

    9. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      If I’m making something to take it somewhere, whether to work or to a potluck, I’ll always make enough for everyone at home to have some too. I remember coming home once and a young lad who was living with us had just finished making two different cheesecakes for his girlfriend. They looked delicious and I wanted to confiscate them straight off. Instead I decreed that he’d have to make another two for us (and bought the ingredients for him and wrote down the recipe).

  5. HonorBox*

    Had to add this because I didn’t get to comment to be potentially included in this roundup. We had a small office and managing a potluck wasn’t too much. We all pretty much got along and it was pretty easy to agree upon who was bringing what.

    One coworker saw that NO ONE was bringing rolls and butter (of course it was rolls!). She patrolled the office asking who wanted rolls and butter. None of us indicated that we really wanted or needed them, but she took it upon herself to bring the rolls and butter because who can have a potluck without them? By the way, we were pretty well covered with carbs and really no one wanted them.

    Day of the potluck, the rolls and butter sat and not a single person touched them. Not even the person who was overly concerned. So she left them in the office kitchen because surely they’d get eaten. Reader, they did not get eaten. It sort of became an unwritten and ongoing joke that no one was ever going to eat them out of principle…because they were so incredibly important that you MUST have rolls. Months go by. The rolls sat there and got stale. Oddly, they didn’t mold. They just got rock hard.

    So one day when it was a bit warmer outside (we were in the north), and when she wasn’t there, one of my coworkers and I grabbed a baseball bat from his car, went out to the parking lot right in front of our building and “pitched” rolls to one another, shattering the all important rolls into a billion little pieces.

    I still think of that day fondly.

    1. pally*

      My grandmother would be proud of you!

      See, my grandmother’s big thing was feeding the birds-any time of year. She was always putting uneaten toast outside for the birds to eat. She’d break it up into pieces and leave it on the grass. Had to be toast- not bread. And well-toasted at that.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      “Oddly, they didn’t mold.”

      A potluck miracle! Who volunteers to build the reliquary?

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Generally, if bread dries to rock hard first, it won’t mold. Most store rolls are slightly dry in the first place and generally dry first if not bagged really well (and under the circumstances, you don’t want to bag them really well.)

        Great for people who use a lot of breadcrumbs…

      2. Mockingjay*

        A friend teaches high school biology and health sciences. Each year she does the McDonald’s experiment: buys a hamburger and fries at the beginning of the school year and puts them on a shelf. The students check periodically to see if anything decays or molds, and they discuss possibe reasons why or why not, which leads to discussions of preservatives in the food supply, good and bad effects on the body, molds and bacteria, and other topics. It’s a great way to show how “boring” school subjects actually apply to real things. (Fast food is definitely a topic of interest for teens.)

        Note: the burger, fries, and bun NEVER mold; just dry out.

    3. pagooey*

      Love it! My first job, at about 15, was in the snack bar of an ice rink…and that’s where I discovered that day-old+ donuts can likewise be smacked around with hockey sticks, just like a puck. :D

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Those rolls are delicious!

        And we stopped at Lambert’s once – driving from Milwaukee to Memphis – about 30 minutes before closing. As we ate what we had ordered, our waiter came by with tray after tray of other food, telling us they were going to have to toss it anyhow and did we want to try it now or take it home with us.

        Reader, we took three to-go containers stuffed to bursting with us and would have taken more except we thought more than three would appear greedy.

        (Also – hog jowls are delicious if you eat pork you should try them.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I never got to go there. :(

        But once, at Thanksgiving, we went to my uncle’s house, and we were all crammed into the dining room — which, with everyone seated, was not big enough to allow easy egress. Someone asked for a roll and well, a few items went airborne at that point, lol.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      While we’re talking about rolls, I have to make a confession: I brought home-made rolls to a potluck this weekend, and they were NOT GOOD. Too dense and chewy to be dinner rolls. Anyway, I am patting myself on the back that I didn’t mention it to anyone! I resisted going around asking people if they were OK, or even letting anyone know I had brought them.

      I’m giving myself a gold star for that, if not for the rolls.

      1. Katie*

        I made rolls for Thanksgiving two years ago. They did not rise and we’re not good. My nephew turns to me at some point and said ‘did you may those rolls with dough!?’. He apparently looooooved them and they are brought up fondly from time time. My BIL also loved them. Everyone else agrees that they weren’t good and I am not allowed to make rolls anymore…

  6. TeenieBopper*

    I couldn’t even finish before coming down to comment about #2. And despite that, I don’t really have words. I wish there was video of my face as I was reading it. I’m sure it would go from neutral to smiling to laughing to what to wtf to Jesus christ no please stop.

  7. WellRed*

    No 4: if people can’t pizza cause they are lactose intolerant and then eat it anyway, I’m not sure the power tripping admin will get the point.
    No 12: some was… taken away in an ambulance and the group just carried on? A good reminder that work is not family and doesn’t care about you!

      1. H3llifIknow*

        Exactly! “You want to weild your petty power to order food you KNOW many of us can’t eat? Fine, you WILL suffer the inevitable consequences of (y)our actions!”

        1. MigraineMonth*

          It’s not “can’t eat” exactly, it’s “can’t eat without certain… odiferous… consequences” which they are now sharing with their benefactor.

          1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

            Depending on the degree of lactose intolerance, it can also cause extreme stomach pain and diarrhea with an urgent need to poop.

            1. Dairy Don't*

              Phoebe’s description still makes it sound like there’s a degree of control. At its most egregious, (lots 0f) poop escaping is the first symptom. That’s why commenters are so impressed with the risk management!

    1. Chirpy*

      In the original thread for #12, they mentioned most people didn’t find out about the person with the heart attack until the end of the day.

    2. Guacamole Nob*

      I don’t understand why they just didn’t get pizza without cheese, if the cheese was the problem and the person ordering was determined on pizza.
      The crop dusting reminds me of an article I read a few years ago about a lawsuit (I think it was in Australia) about workplace bullying. One of the complaints was that the bullies were deliberately doing this at their co-workers desk. The things we remember…

  8. Malarkey01*

    I had no idea I was such a horrible person but when I got to #12 and someone had a literal heart attack I laughed (I think from shock?). Who in the world thought eating a meal circa 1820s campfire would be a good idea?? WHO?

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Especially on such a hot day. I can’t even handle grilling hot dogs in that kind of weather.

    2. Kes*

      I don’t know, I actually can see how this could be the type of activity that sounds potentially kind of cool and fun (go to this attraction and make a meal together… old school style) but the execution was just… not there (for it to be good, I’d expect the people who work there to know what they’re doing and have it set up in such a way that they know it will work as planned and won’t be a ton of work for the people doing the activity… none of which it sounds like was the case here)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        If it were better run and on a cool day, I would love something like this.

        I would have won Pioneer House! (Yes, I know it wasn’t a contest, but I still would have won.)

    3. Be Gneiss*

      There is a working farm/museum place in my area where you can experience authentic Depression-era agricultural life. Their tagline is “Where it’s always 1932!” and every time I hear it I think….that’s just not a good year to visit.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This sounds like the worst idea since the Experience the Plague ride at Six Flags. (I made that up.) (But still.)

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Years ago, on a trip to York England we visited the Jorvik Viking Centre, which includes a ride through a recreation of life in the 900s AD and includes artifacts, figurines displayed in dioramas and other exhibits including life sized figures, based on what was discovered in archeological digs at the site.
          It was quite interesting, but 20-something me and my friends could stop giggling at the tagline on their flyers:

          Experience the sights, sounds, and *smells* of the Viking Age!

          And yes, there were many many smells.

          It’s still a very popular attraction according to Trip Advisor

    4. Lenora Rose*

      The thing is, it can be! — with decent direction and support from the staff/historians/enthusiasts, this sort of thing actually can be. (I am an SCA member, if inactive, and my husband has been a cook at various events, some of them using an outdoor fire).

      On 96 degree days with sarcastic unhelpful and it sounds like inexperienced staff? Not a chance. And did they think people in the 1820s only had campfires?

      1. Enai*

        It’s a little known fact that indoor cooking was invented in the town of Kitchener in Canada in 1867 by one Mrs. Stove. Hence the names of kitchen (for the room the cooking happens in) and stove (for the piece of furniture you use). Her archrival Mrs. Oven invented baking.

          1. Enai*

            Absolutely. In Canada, no less. The bigger problem was actually how to bring news of this marvelous revolution to every household on Earth. That’s why the passenger pigeons went extinct.

            *makes straightes face ever*

          2. Hannah Lee*

            I’m pretty sure indoor cooking in some form was around centuries before that (a quick duck duck go search brings up articles on Ancient Greece* and Egypt, and likely other civilizations practiced it as well.

            Maybe mrs stoce was responsible for the first modern kitchen?

            * Autocorrect was insistent I must have meant Geese, given the previous reference to ducks I suppose?

            1. Enai*

              Umm. I thought the obvious ludicrousness of my assertions gave me away, but apparently not. For the record: Neolithic peoples already cooked indoors, as evidenced by fire pits inside the remnants of ancient Mesopotamian buildings. Arguably, paleolithic people cooked “indoors” when they did so in caves, where fire pits can also be found, as well as kitchen wastes of various sorts. Mrs. Stove and Mrs. Oven are entirely fictional, as are their accomplishments. Kitchener does exist, though.

              Next time, I’ll change my name to something like “Trufax”.

        1. Rob aka Mediancat*

          Surely William Murdoch of the Toronto Constabulary had something to do with it.

          — he invented everything else, after all . . .

          1. Enai*

            Yes, I believe he’s related to both Mrs. Stove and Mrs. Oven. Maybe they’re even siblings. No rivals are as competitive as family rivals, after all!

            …I think I might watch the show. Is it good, do you think?

      2. RVA Cat*

        It was 1890s so that really should be more cast iron stove than campfire. Of course maybe they’re the Van Der Linde Gang eating whatever buffalo, bear or gator that Arthur Morgan shot for Pearson to put in the stew.

        1. MM*

          I understood that reference with a hearty laugh in my face. (And submitted about 1/2 a dozen foxes in varying states of decay just for my own imagination of Pearson cooking it for the gang.)

    5. calonkat*

      #12 could work among my friends (a bunch of historical re-enactors) but not my co-workers, most of whom have never thought of cooking over a campfire. And I’ve been looking through old newspapers for genealogy for a couple of years now, and there were SO MANY ACCIDENTS from people who were FAMILIAR with the techniques and having flames around. How the “supervisors” weren’t just right there offering advice and watching for safety issues boggles the mind!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Ruth Goodman is a historian who regularly does a year of living in various historical styles–Tudor, Victorian, Edwardian–and even with a film crew and literal decades of practice has had TONS of close calls cooking over open flames, including setting her skirts ablaze! I can’t fathom who would insure this company if their attitude was “good luck, noob.”

        1. AngryOctopus*

          The man whose collection founded the Mutter Museum in Philly was also the pioneer of a surgery developed to help women who had been burned by cooking fires. Your position over a fire (leaning in) plus the heavy clothing of the day caused many women to get face/chest burns from fires. Mutter developed a surgery bringing a flap of skin over from the back but keeping it attached (for blood supply) so they could ease the contraction of the scarring skin. It’s 100% fascinating (as is the museum, but you may need a stronger stomach for that).

    6. Generic Name*

      The cleaning up afterwards (after the heart attack victim was unceremoniously wheeled away on a gurney??) is what got me. I recently attended a work team building event that was titled “Iron Chef”, and I was envisioning that we’d have to come up with what to cook, but we had actual chefs who thought up the dishes while the rest of us were basically their sous chefs (at varying levels of ineptness, lol). It was a ton of fun, and very well run. We did not have to clean the kitchen afterwards.

    7. lilsheba*

      Yeah I would NOT be doing this on a 96 degree day. I’m too heat intolerant for that crap. I hate team building stuff anyway it’s always so dumb.

    8. Cheshire Cat*

      It sounds like a fun activity to me. But, on a cooler day, and with other people (friends, or as a class run by a local restaurant or gourmet food store) who are also interested. Definitely not as a team-building activity!

    9. Beth*

      I would also have ended up in the ER. Or I would have refused to participate due to the danger to my health, and gotten fired.

      I’ve camped all my life and cooked plenty of meals on campfires, but NOT in killer heat.

  9. Juicebox Hero*

    The fig-flinging and hiding is something I can see my office doing, with myself as Fig Interceptor because fresh figs are delicious.

    1. sparkle emoji*

      Maybe this is my anxiety brain but if someone fed me plastic, I don’t think it’s kind to tell me after I’ve already eaten it. That way I can’t avoid it, I can only worry about what might happen.

    2. High Score!*

      This is one of the many reasons that I don’t participate in potlucks at work. I will have potluck parties at home but I only invite people I trust whose kitchens I have visited and who I’ve known for a long time.

  10. Wendy T*

    #9 – As someone who works in building facilities, what likely happens to stuff like this is I go in to clean up offices, there’s a large coffin with a label that implies it shouldn’t be touched but no one is willing to claim it. We then need to formally document the location and hold multiple meetings to try an figure out the disposition of this thing, it eventually gets disposed anyways, and I roll my eyes at the fact that I got paid six figures to deal with a fake coffin. You should have just given it away to an employee.

    1. Engineer*

      She was. It was going to be a raffle prize. Them the pandemic happened. All stated right there in the story.

        1. Liza*

          lol right? I am the OP of the coffin story, I there was no fancy department of people in charge of the removal…it was a couple of engineers from the corporate office, the lead technician from the building, and a handful of laid off hourly employees who were brought on as contractors to help tear things down and pack them up. It was a tech start up, so very scrappy lol

  11. Kes*

    To be fair to the fignorant, I read #8 and was like, they don’t know what a fig is? I know what a fig is… I think… looked it up and realized I did not in fact know what a (fresh) fig looks like – guess I’ve only seen dried figs in the past.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I knew what one looks like, but my parents used to have a fig tree in the back yard, so that is cheating. You rarely see them in the store.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        We also had a persimmon and a kumquat tree. Fresh kumquats are delicious, and one of those fruits that lots of people don’t believe actually exists.

        1. Sacramento?*

          Oooh, I wonder if you grew up near where I live – Central Valley? Tons of fig trees, lots of persimmons, and a few kumquat trees around here. All are delicious!

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            This was in the Mojave Desert. The previous owners had put in various fruit trees. My parents maintained them at non-trivial expense. Even using a slow soaker, the water cost was substantial. After they retired the people who bought the house ripped out the entire backyard and put in a swimming pool. *sigh*

          2. Chili Heeler*

            Northern CA reporting in that was had kumquats and persimmons and shared those with our neighbors who shared their figs with us.

      2. Mad Harry Crewe*

        We had a fig tree but none of us ate them. The neighbor lady took a lot and the rest fell in the grass and got stepped in (slimy!).

      3. Samwise*

        You must go to a hoity toity place and for sure they will have them in season. Whole Foods, Trader Joes (middle brow hoity toity, I remember when they were a cheapo bulk foods store back in the last century), Fresh Market…

      4. fhqwhgads*

        The fig tree in my backyard is what gave me pause when the story indicated figs are easy to clean up…

        1. Rara Avis*

          Yeah, my husband grew up with a fig tree, and there are stories about fig fights with his brothers — and then consequences and baths from their mother. Some of the clothes were permanently stained. I never saw a rope fig until I moved to CA. They’re pretty fragile.

      1. Sorrischian*

        Based on “figs, which are easy to clean up”, I’m reasonably sure they were dried. Fresh figs are delicious but not exactly durable

        1. Emmy Noether*

          also, leaving them around the office for months? Definitely dried. I love fresh figs, but you gotta eat them within 12 hours of buying them, or half will be moldy.

    2. Bronze Betty*

      This prompted me to search up images of figs, and . . . no, I did not know what a fresh fig looks like, either. Also, the image in my head was dates. Maybe I should just occasionally do searches of fruits and veggies.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Me too, I was also thinking of dates!

        I love fruit from other parts of the world. I travelled to another continent in pre-pandemic times and spent the entire time stuffing fruit in my face. (I suspect some of the bowls of fruit in the hotel rooms were supposed to be decorative, but if so they shouldn’t have been so delicious.)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I do, but that’s because we sell the “Fig ‘n Pig” seasonal special every year in early fall, and it’s got fresh figs. It’s a big hit.

    3. Gingerbread Maiden*

      Sigh…folks, if you don’t what a particular foodstuff is and you’re not getting a clear explanation, reach into your pocket/purse for this marvelous little device called a cell phone. In about 3 minutes tops, you’ll have your answer!

      1. Ticotac*

        Somehow, I don’t think googling “fig” once you’ve realized that no one is gonna give you a straight answer is gonna stop people from commenting about you not knowing what’s a fig.

    4. Jack Russell Terrier*

      I LOVE fresh figs. I literally jingled ‘figs figs figs figs’ when I saw them at Costco this year. There was a strange look or two. I blame the accidental appropriation of someone else’s cart on my over-excitement.

      You’ll understand that my jaw dropped and I moaned, shaking my head – the fig fight, what a waste, what a waste.

    5. Guacamole Nob*

      This reminds me of my favourite Venn diagram. The middle section is “thinking something is a date” and one of the circles was “me eating a fig”. The other circles were Excel and Incel.

  12. Quake*

    I’m sitting here in bed with a cold so I really shouldn’t be reading anything that might make me start laughing (and subsequently coughing then choking). “Y’all, it was mashed potatoes” is ruining me! LOL!

  13. MishenNikara*

    We are supposed to have a potluck at work tomorrow for Thanksgiving and management wants each dept to bring a dish. Thing is I work in a grocery store and this is the worst week of the year (yes a place that sells all the things for Thanksgiving wants US to provide). We are all understaffed and overworked and as a result only 1 dept has signed up for a side. I won’t know how it turns out either way. My dept is too slammed to have time for silly things like breaks

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh yeah, the OND (October-November-December) slog is what we called it in the liquor business. Management should schedule nice for everybody in January, after the madness is over.

        1. allathian*

          In Swedish, too. And it does sound appropriate.

          I don’t miss working retail at any time, but particularly not this time of year.

          A particularly memorable occasion was when I worked in a bookstore that got so full of customers that we had to call security to only allow as many people to enter as left the store. A very popular author had just published a new book. I miss those times when people bought books as Christmas presents…

        1. Dahlia*

          My mom’s company holiday party this year is December 11th. Her department is very understaffed, and yet everyone is complaining that none of them are going.

          Did I mention she works in a grocery store?

    2. H3llifIknow*

      My company isn’t even in retail or food. We are a govt. contractor and we always have our “Winter Party” in mid-January when the fatigue of Hallothankmas is over.

    3. the cat's ass*

      Same here and i am annoyed.Seriously, you’re doing this at the last minute? During deductible season? It’s a veggie tray from me.

    1. Random Dice*

      #3 is my hero.

      I would dearly love to marry him, her, them, zir, or hir. I’m sure my spouse will understand.

      The dedication to that MOOD… they are magnificent.

    1. Grim*

      IMO, cheap-ass rolls are the ideal ingredient for bread pudding! But who can guess whether that would have satisfied the finance lady’s requirements or not.

  14. EC*

    I don’t get number 4. Just don’t eat the pizza if you can’t eat the pizza. Making yourself sick doesn’t sound like cool revenge to me. You don’t have to eat the food in the break room, you can leave or bring something from home.

    That story does remind me why we stopped doing group birthday lunches. Out of a group of seven there were four different special dietary requirements, and only a couple places that met them all. Those couple places weren’t very good, so we just stopped going out.

    1. Kel*

      Seems like fantastic malicious compliance to me. You won’t accommodate my dietary needs, I’ll show you what happens when you don’t.

      1. anne of mean gables*

        I just don’t know that I’d trust my LactAid dosing that precisely! On the other hand – it must have taken a lot of trial and error to know the exact personal dose that would guarantee gas but no liquids or solids, and so I’m a little bit impressed.

        1. Ticotac*

          Will I risk soiling myself right next to admin out of pure spite?

          Yes. Yes I will. I’m not happy I can’t have mozzarella either, Mx. If I must suffer, I will take you with me.

    2. Engineer*

      Some the events are lunches where they wouldn’t have food at all unless they brought their own in, which tends to defeat the purpose of a team lunch. And someone else took on the task of finding restaurants that would accommodate almost all dietary needs. The admin is one refusing to respect people’s health, so she’s getting the chance to reap the consequences of that.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      If you are an admin planning a company lunch, it’s literally your job to choose a menu that includes food that everyone can eat.

        1. Fishsticks*

          So you… shouldn’t choose a menu with food everyone is physically able to eat without pain or discomfort being the result? That seems like a pretty basic standard for planning a company lunch.

    4. Despachito*

      I don’t get it either. Why would I make myself sick/embarass myself on purpose to prove someone a point? I think I love myself too much to do this.

      1. Auntie Crow*

        Looks like there were people who could manage their symptoms enough to punish the admin for her malicious behavior. I understand it. I can’t manage my symptoms well enough so I wouldn’t have been able to participate, but if I could and could use those symptoms to direct the negative consequences to the person who caused them? Heck yeah, teach her a lesson and maybe she’ll respect other people next time to avoid getting mass crop dusted again.

        1. Arthall*

          “ Looks like there were people who could manage their symptoms enough to punish the admin for her malicious behavior”

          Then it sounds like maybe their lactose intolerance isn’t all that bad. And if they have enough free time at work to tweak their symptoms like this AND walk by the admin area multiple times, perhaps they can instead use all that free time to work on other projects related to their actual job. Or perhaps the company doesn’t need that much dead weight on the payroll and can combine or outsource a few roles.
          Then these edge lord biohazard terrorists can crop dust their own homes as much as they want while filing for unemployment online.

          1. Fishsticks*

            I feel like “well maybe they should get FIRED, then they’d be SORRY” is a weirdly passionate and hostile response to the story, but you do you.

    5. Worldwalker*

      So a third of the office should just not get the same perks as everyone else, and be fine with that?

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this.

        I’d absolutely be on board for the crop dusting if I had this problem, but then I’m not particularly easily embarrassed and I *am* rather petty and have a very low tolerance for people who refuse to accommodate others, like this admin.

  15. Lucy P*

    #3 reminds me of my workplace. Of the the top level managers from one department, and a mid-level manager of a different department both come from cultures when many people are often vegetarian. The top level manager has become slightly westernized in that they eat chicken, eggs and seafood, but not pork or beef. The other manager is much more orthodox and will not eat any animal protein including eggs (but will drink milk).
    Every time we have food brought and there’s cake, the mid-level person won’t eat it because it contains eggs. Then the upper manager looks at the mid-level person and says, “You still can’t eat eggs?”

  16. ZK*

    The mashed potato candy one reminded me of the year I made homemade peppermint patties and took them in to work. Every one inhaled them, told me I needed to make more and bring them in. I smiled and told each one that I’d make more the next time my husband made mashed potatoes (and yes, they had salt & butter) and the face they each made as they asked if I was serious. Yep and they were darned good, too. So she was on to something, just not quite there!

    1. AngryOctopus*

      I mean, potatoes in desserts or bread is pretty well established. BUT. You can’t just take leftover mashed potatoes and start stirring in sweet stuff. That way lies madness.

  17. Nanc*

    No. 1 The Savage–this needs to be narrated in the style of Les Nessman covering the first annual WKRP turkey drop.

    1. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Belated THANK YOU for the recipe! I’ll pour one out for Finance Witch when I try it.

  18. nnn*

    #5: Is there, like, an authoritative list anywhere of what constitutes a “traditional potluck dessert”? Because I’ve been to far more potlucks than I’ve ever wanted to, and I cannot name a single traditional potluck dessert, or a single dessert that is definitely not a potluck dessert.

    1. Impending Heat Dome*

      The only traditional potluck dessert I can think of is either some form of bar (brownies, blondies, rice krispy bars, that sort of thing) or a dessert salad that involves Cool Whip.

      1. Dulcinea47*

        those salads are salad, they’re not served as dessert they’re served with the meal.

        I think rice krispie treats qualify as traditional potluck.

      2. Be Gneiss*

        Yes, a traditional cool whip/jello/mini-marshmallow/canned fruit “salad.” Bonus if someone calls it a secret family recipe.

        1. Dog momma*

          Ok then I will give you the recipe for ” Mom’s Famous Jello”. Which was always a hit . Esp with littles that would refuse some/ most of T-Giving or Xmas food that they might not have seen before… They always asked for more of MFJ.

          cherry Jello, fresh grapes, strawberries or fruit of choice. Big layer of Cool Whip. Crushed walnuts on top. Serve from a medium mixing bowl. Delicious!

    2. Samwise*

      Banana pudding, if you are in the south.

      Cake, preferably with a lot of frosting and filling


      Big pan of brownies

    3. Grim*

      All of the things I can think of that I’d rule out as a potluck dessert, it’s for logistical reasons (fragile/difficult to store or transport, tastes better when it’s fresh or deteriorates if it’s kept for long, contains alcohol or a common allergen, etc). In my opinion, even though it’s a less traditional/old-fashioned recipe, a bread pudding made out of cake still fits the potluck bill perfectly.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      The only rule I know is that you need to be able to transport it from your kitchen to the potluck location with minimum loss of flavor or ideal texture.

      So, churros might be out? (If someone brought churros, I would absolutely eat them, though.)

      Maybe no souffles.

    5. Tau*

      The last potluck I went to I brought my advent tiramisu, which is both delicious and (I am sure) a crime against Italian desserts everywhere; I am sure that Ms Traditional Potluck Desserts Only would have run, not walked, to HR in protest.

      1. amoeba*

        Hah, I find that quite funny because I was just thinking what I’d consider traditional potluck desserts in my country (not Italy, haha) and that one would be very high on the list. Some kind of tiramisu for sure, and the advent/Christmas version as soon as it’s the right season!

        1. Tau*

          Huh! Maybe I just haven’t been around enough to see other people make it. I’ll have to think of something else heretic if a potluck comes up in the near future now!

    6. NotTheSameAaron*

      scalloped potatoes, any casserole, gelatin anything, molasses cookies, pie, meatballs (once went to a potluck where every other dish was meatballs in a crockpot), rice dishes

    7. Indolent Libertine*

      Traditional potluck dessert: Sad package of store bought cookies brought in by the guy who didn’t tell his wife that he was counting on her to make the dessert he signed up to bring until 9pm the night before?

    8. Festively Dressed Earl*

      That would be a good guide for AAM to have. Do an Ask the Readers, then post The Authoritative List of Traditional Potluck Desserts. We Are Not Accepting Constructive Criticism At This Time. I hate to put that on Alison, but it’s essential professional knowledge.

    1. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn Profiles**

      With apologies to Shakespeare (Romeo & Juliet, Act 1, Scene 1):

      — “Do you fart at us, sir?”

      — “I do fart, sir.”

      — “Do you fart AT US, sir?”

      — “No, sir, I do not fart at you, sir, but I fart, sir.”

    2. Lydia*

      I get the feeling people are unfamiliar with the concept of “crop dusting”. It is when one farts while passing by, or farts and leaves the vicinity immediately, leaving only the tell-tale smell of the offense that happened.

      1. Gemstones*

        I think that just raises further questions. Like how to coordinate this, and what kind of a place LW works at that people would actually give themselves gas just to get revenge (it kind of feels like the very definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face).

  19. rollyex*

    Years ago I was an English language teacher in somewhat poor developing country. My boss had an expense account that he had to use up by the end of each quarter so it would be cut. So he’s take his staff out to eat for big banquets. And he loved to eat. One time we were a bit downtown, at a restaurant next to the our city’s major medical university and hospital.

    The restaurant specialized in a type of food cooked at the table. In this case, the setup was a little rickety, and someone warned “Hey, watch out – we don’t want someone to get burned” to which my boss, while shoveling some food into his bowl “No problem! The hospitals’ right next door.”

    1. Quill*

      That guy must be related to my ex-boss at Bad Biotech Startup. He loved to take us out to eat in order to pretend that he was a generous guy but oh boy was he bad at things like risk assessment…

  20. Grim*

    Re: 3 (vegan chilli) I understand people can’t help which foods they do and don’t like, but grown adults who outright brag about not liking vegetables (and scoff at other people who do) seem so ridiculous to me. Like what are you, a five year old? Nobody’s forcing you to eat your greens, but you don’t have to make such a big deal about how icky vegetables are, either.

    1. Enai*

      Some people react really bizarrely to vegetarians and vegans. I once knew a vegetarian whose father vowed to eat one extra piece of meat for every one his son eschewed. So, if they were having steak and son ordered a vegetarian dish, the father would eat two steaks and so on. I guess it made sense in his head? I remain baffled, though.

        1. Sedna*

          Yeah, a lot of this aligns with other weird hypermasculine behavior (eg “soyboy” as an insult). Applauding the hell out of #3, because nothing is more irritating than someone grandstanding about the One Correct Way to Feed Your Body.

          1. Stuff*

            I mean, I’m actually a very heavy meat eater, and my favorite things are steaks and cheeseburgers, but I’ve long been of the opinion that the hyperpolitical Proud Carnivore Brigade are far, far preachier and more annoying than the militant vegans and vegetarians they keep acting like are trying to forcibly convert us all. I certainly feel like I encounter those chuds exponentially more often than I do non-meat eaters doing anything other than respectfully exercising their dietary choices.

            1. Rhiannon*

              I have lost track of the number of times I am somewhere sitting quietly with my plate of beans and vegetables, chatting with others, and some jackass bellows why I’m not eating the ‘q, and I’m honest: “I don’t eat meat” – after which I am sneered and scorned to the point that I’ll get up and leave. Lots of judging from all around, true, but I have found carnivores to be boisterously pains in the rear about it. MYOB!

            2. Sedna*

              absolutely agreed. I eat meat as well (love a good burger) and the “I ONLY eat MEAT like a REAL MAN” people are just the worst. go watch more of the Liver King you dorks

        2. Hrodvitnir*

          Hahaha, I love phrases like this. People who ardently call themselves carnivores (you’re not: you’re a generalist omnivore like the rest of us, you’re just also an idiot with negative empathy) always have been and always will be worse even needlessly judgemental people who don’t eat animal products.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, me too.

              That said, when I was a kid we lived in an area that was heavily mosquito-infested in wet summers to the point that when you slapped yourself, more often than not you got more than one mosquito (fortunately we don’t have malaria here, although our mosquitos can carry tularemia and Pogosta disease). I developed immunity to the toxin and by the end of the summer, I stopped slapping because they didn’t itch. I’d just sit there and let them suck. But before it got to that point, I regularly ate the mosquitos I killed, especially if they were bloody. So I was both an omnivorous insectivore and an autocannibal as a kid (still am, I can’t stop myself from consuming the blood if I get a paper cut, until I can disinfect and put a plaster on it).

        3. Enai*

          What most baffles me about that dude is: presumably, he usually eats enough to feel full. Why eat another whole portion of $piece_of_meat_son_didn’t_want on top of that? There is such a thing as “so stuffed it doesn’t taste good any more”, so why torture oneself? Plus, of course, too much meat is known to be unhealthy as you said. “Eat myself into an early grave to spite my own son” is just bananacrackers.

        1. Enai*

          …oh. I hadn’t considered that possibility. I just thought it was kinda like a kid’s temper tantrum, just in grown-up.

  21. Dulcinea47*

    Potato flakes are real potatoes. There are many other problems there but potato elitism doesn’t need to be one of them.

      1. Truthy*

        Potato flakes are flat chunks of dehydrated mashed potato. How are they made? Potatoes are cooked and mashed, then crushed by rollers on the surface of a drum. The mashed potato is fast-dried until its humidity reaches the desired level, then the layer of dried, mashed potato is scraped from the drum.

    1. amoeba*

      Eh. I’m far from a food elitist, but I grew up with instant mashed potatoes – my mom grew up on a farm and was over peeling potatoes by the time she got to move out.
      I always hated them and literally believed I just didn’t like mashed potatoes at all until I finally tasted the ones made from scratch (and at the university canteen as well! So certainly not any kind of gourmet place) and yeah, turns out they’re actually really great.

      So – sure, they’re also made from potatoes, but the taste is most definitely not the same.

    2. And thanks for the coffee*

      Potato elitism; love that concept. We could have macaroni and cheese elitism. Boxed powdered cheese and macaroni is no good. Only macaroni and cheese made with real cheese, white sauce, and baked is right. And, obviously, bread pudding elitism: must be bread, not pound cake, chocolate croissants, and definitely not cheap-ass rolls.

      Those instant potatoes can be pretty good though. Not the mac and cheese though.

  22. Clisby*

    #2, the divinity candy, reminded me of a family wedding where, as we were going past a table full of treats, my maybe 10-year-old nephew asked for a slice of brie cheese – a big slice. The server looked at him quizzically, and asked if he was sure, and he was SURE. The look on his face when he took a big bite and discovered that brie cheese is not, in fact, an exotic form of cheesecake was priceless.

  23. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn Profiles**

    ‘Don’t eat the chicken,’ we whispered as more guests began filling up the room. ‘Don’t eat the chicken.’

    I would have SHOUTED “Don’t eat the chicken” as loudly as possible.

  24. H3llifIknow*

    LW2: Spoilsport!! I’d have NOT warned my coworkers to eat the divinity because I’d have enjoyed the reactions FAR TOO MUCH to forego it merely so they didn’t have to suffer! I guess I have a little sadist in me! Interestingly enough, Dylan B. Hollis makes a potato candy that IS delicious and I thought that was where the cook was going with alas, sounds like .. not. Still, I’d have likely been in a “I suffered thru tasting that nonsense, everyone else will too dammit” frame of mind!

    1. SAS*

      LOL 100%!! We have the same mind- I absolutely would have hand delivered the potato candies to my work buddies and encouraged them to try Jane’s delicious homemade treats right in front of me!

  25. WarblerB*

    The story for #1 is very funny, but I think the title is inappropriate; hoping Allyson can rename it-chicken carnage?

    1. BubbleTea*

      I think the term “savage” as a noun is problematic when applied to communities and cultures, but not inappropriately used here, as a verb/adjective. The coworker savaged the chicken (ie tore it apart in a ferocious manner). None of the other titles refers to a person, they all describe the event. No need to be offended in this instance.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        It’s used in the subhead, “The savage” — that is the problematic use. Referring to anyone as a savage is perpetuating the larger linguistic pattern of harm.

    2. Random Dice*

      I thought the same. Eek to the slur.

      In my family we use “barbarian” and then I reinforce that “s*vage” is a slur against Native people, but barbarian is ok because (we all chorus together) “after all we DON’T speak Greek!”

      1. Worldwalker*

        People called other people savages (including Europeans applying the term to other Europeans, usually ones they were at war with at the time) long before the European colonization of North America. It’s not a slur unless used as one.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah. I’d argue that in fact, this is the perfect use of the word “savage” – exactly why it’s a slur when applied to people, obviously.

        2. Isben Takes Tea*

          It was used as a noun to dehumanize people for a long time, yes. And then there was an incredibly significant shift in contextual use to expressly dehumanize Indigenous peoples all over the world during several hundred years of European colonization. You don’t have to intend for it to be a racialized slur for it to be part of a larger linguistic pattern of causing harm to marginalized people.

        1. JaneDough(not)*

          I’ve tried a few faux-beefs products, and the best ***by far*** (IMO) is made by Beyond Meat. (I buy it on sale bc otherwise it’s too pricey for my budget.)

        2. Chirpy*

          I use quinoa instead of the meat, because it’s texture, some protein, and I don’t particularly like fake meat.

  26. Hermione Danger*

    #5 – What is wrong with that woman? Both of your contributions sound delicious. There’s a breakfast chain in my town that does fancy French toast, including “Red Velvet” French toast which is indeed made with Red Velvet cake. She’d probably demand the Health Department shut them down.

    1. sparkle emoji*

      She’d have to contact the French Embassy about breakfast atrocities being committed in their name.

    2. Beth*

      I’ve eaten at any number of fancy restaurants that touted their bread pudding made with any number of unusual, non-bread ingredients. The one that did Krispy Kreme doughnut* bread pudding was too disgusting even to contemplate, but the others were fine.

      *I hate Krispy Kreme. YMMV.

  27. Godbert*

    re: #6 (big brain toaster problems)
    Two jobs ago my spouse worked at a company with a similar ego problem and they eventually got their _dishwashers_ taken away due to the number of Ivy/MIT/Stanford grads who (1) did not empty their dishes of their remaining food/drink before putting them in the dishwasher, (2) sometimes, rather than slotting the dishes into the wire basket, would just hurl them indiscriminately into the dishwasher as if it were a trash can, and (3) would run the dishwasher either with no soap or with the kind of dish soap you use to hand wash at the sink.

    After a few suds-floodings of kitchens and a few very expensive repair bills from food and broken dishes messing up the works, the ops people didn’t even attempt to re-educate the workforce — they just disconnected and blocked up the dishwashers and informed everyone they could handwash from now on. Many employees responded by whining that the company should pay for disposables.

    1. fancy uni anony*

      As someone who has attended one of those schools and knows how many late night/early morning fire alarms we had in the University apartments*, I am not surprised by #6 at all.

      (*90% of which occurred in the dead of winter)

    2. Eli*

      Last tech industry job I had was the exact same. They bragged so much about how most of the employees went to top schools, and yet apparently, all that brainpower didn’t meant anything when it came to using toaster ovens and toasters. It was a shame, because they kept the kitchen stocked with bread and bagels from fancypants brands like Dave’s Killer.

  28. annamaurya*

    I gotta know on #11 if this was a handwritten note/toothpick flag, or if Larry has pre-made signs for when he just can’t help himself. I kind of hope it’s the latter.

  29. Madre del Becchino*

    #6: Perhaps the grilled-cheese sandwich person grew up hearing these called “toasted-cheese” (as I did) and thought they were made in the toaster?

    1. Cute As Cymraeg*

      In the UK they’re called cheese toasties… using the grill and not a toaster does very much remain key to their successful construction, though

    2. Kyrielle*

      Ironically I *do* make toasted cheese in the toaster oven, but not in a vertical toaster it’s true.

  30. Lady Ann*

    We had a potluck last week, someone brought a ham and it sat out on the counter at room temperature for at least 4 hours before lunch. I was the one wandering around whispering “don’t eat the ham…”

    1. amoeba*

      That should be quite safe though? Pretty sure 4 h at room temp are fine for almost all food, excluding maybe raw fish or whatever,,,

      1. JustaTech*

        Noo… not unless it was an Iberico ham that is completely dry.

        Like, cake or pie or cookies or whole fruit, sure, those are generally fine for hours. But meat? Nope, too much water, too easy to breed bacteria.

  31. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn Profiles**

    Re: #5…

    …especially at a potluck where if you sign up for a dessert, you must bring a traditional potluck dessert, not something made up!

    When did Congress pass that law? Which President signed it? And was there really nothing better to worry about that day?

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      And also, in point of actual fact, every single recipe ever conceived is made up! They’re constructs created by humans, not Divine law.

  32. Coin_Operated*

    I would make “bread” pudding every chance I got, panettone pudding, bran muffin pudding, pumpkin loaf pudding, etc… and I’d bring it in to share with the office ALL YEAR LONG.

  33. Hashtag Destigmatize Therapy*

    OP5 – the Bread Pudding Originalist reminds me of me when I was in elementary school. But even child me wouldn’t have tried to get anybody in trouble over something like that.

    1. MonteCristo*

      That’s not the crazy part. Any random person can be a bit of a loon.

      The crazy part is that HR heard this ridiculous complaint, and then forbid the breadless pudding. That is what is pure madness.

  34. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    what kind of slow-cooker gets hot enough to melt plastic? I think the guy who claimed that was pulling the LW’s leg.
    Potato Fondant is an actual thing. I think there’s also a Potato Fudge.

    1. Loux*

      Those grocery produce bags are extremely flimsy, so I could see that happening, though I feel like there would be some noticeable fragments left behind…

        1. AngryOctopus*

          I think it must have been a compostable one, because the chances of an actual plastic bag melting onto a crockpot and not 1-noticably smelling up the entire office with burnt plastic and 2-actually seamlessly dissolving into the dish so that nobody noticed are very very very small. A compostable one would break down because if the crockpot was on high, the tomatoes would start breaking down and the liquid/heat would dissolve the bag and the tomatoes would be sitting in a tomato liquid/cornstarch slurry.

    2. TX_Trucker*

      My 1970s Crock-pot can certainly melt a flimsy produce plastic bag … and much sturdier plastic utensils too. My new slow cooker takes hour to melt cheese. I will be very sad if my old Crock-pot ever dies.

      1. Eh, Steve!*

        I got a new one and I’m kind of afraid it’s not safe. It’s big enough to cook a whole chicken but it takes so long to heat that I’m not sure it’s getting hot enough soon enough. I’m afraid parts of that chicken are sitting below safe temps for the literal hours it takes to get the liquid in it to simmering. Doubt it would melt a plastic bag.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          I always use the automatic setting, which does the first 1½ or 2 hours at high, then drops the temperature to the low setting. It’s a great feature.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        And the SMELL would certainly have permeated beyond the immediate area. The bag must have been a compostable cornstarch one.

    3. Ticotac*

      Reusable bags are made of cornstarch and would melt.

      Also I’m seeing a lot of people saying that potato candy is actually a thing, and it’s like yeah, but whatever potato candy you’re thinking of is not the kind the coworker made, clearly

    4. Why*

      My toaster oven’s lowest setting is 175F, and I accidentally melted a plastic lid (the kind that tops a 6-oz cardboard canister of almonds) into almost nothingness — and that type of lid is far sturdier than a plastic produce bag. By contrast, the lowest temp on a slow-cooker is 190F, so I’m quite sure that the bag dissolved to nothingness.

    5. Dahlia*

      Oh wait, hi, it’s me I’m the problem it’s me.

      I’ve melted bread bags to the outside of my slow cooker when they were touching. And I don’t even use it on high that often. So, seems possible to me!

      1. amoeba*

        I mean, I can imagine it melting, but then just sticking to the walls or agglomerating into small blobs… actually dissolving in the dish seems unlikely. If plastic could be degraded like that, we’d have a lot less problems around it!

  35. Ex-prof*

    LW 12, in re “vague and kind of patronizing”– I love going to outdoor museums and living history thingies and all that sort of thing, except that this describes 9/10 of the staff at all of these things. Why why why?

    me: The decks on this ship are so close together. That must have been tough for the taller sailors.
    docent: No no, it’s a common misconception that people in the past were shorter. Actually they were the same height as us.
    me: That’s true, although it depended on the era and dietary conditions. Which is why this ship must’ve been uncomfortable for some of them; the taller ones.
    docent: Don’t feel bad, a lot of people don’t know that.
    me: I am actually a blue elephant.

    1. 23 o'clock*

      Can you elaborate on the “blue elephant” thing? I’ve read this comment multiple times and I don’t get it!

      1. Orv*

        I think the idea is if they clearly aren’t listening to anything you say, you say something absurd to see if they notice.

      2. whingedrinking*

        I think it’s Ex-prof testing whether the docent was listening to a single thing they were saying.

  36. Have you had enough water today?*

    The Larry one is cute.
    And thank you for the recipe number 5, I am going to try it this weekend. :)

  37. Vegan Food Can Be Good*

    Vegan here (not the kind who is a pain about it around others, I promise!)…
    Oh, thank you, #3!! I’m filled with gratitude for you, and I’m sure I would have been stuffed with your chili if I had been there.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I actually did this once too. I’m not even vegetarian, but I was having a party at my house and several friends are veg. My roommate was all cool until a buddy of his (who fancies himself a pro-am chef) asked what was being served so he could approve it. When he heard there would only be vegan chili, he lobbied my roommate about it. Roommate insisted we had to have meat chili. I refused because I’m a good hostess and I won’t be serving food my guests can’t eat. So roomie decides to make a meat chili also. And then jokingly says we’ll have a cookoff. It was on! I roasted all my veggies, used tex-mex seasoned soy crumbles, some cocoa powder, slow cooked it, all the tricks.

      Our friends didn’t know why there was a “contest” or what was in the 2 chilis. My chili pot was twice the size of his and totally empty at the end and his was still half full, so I won. :-) And he was never a jackass about vegetarian food again.

  38. Cathie from Canada*

    Regarding #10 The Secret Ingredient – On The Johnny Carson Show one night I saw comedian Charles Nelson Reilly describing a dinner party he held – he was a notable Hollywood host – where he was making jambalaya. He was cooking the meat and veggies and he pulled down a box of rice and dumped it into the boiling mix and the rice was full of ants. Well, he scooped out as many as he could but his guests were arriving so he just carried on and added lots of coarse ground pepper and served it up.
    Carson was in hysterics as was the studio audience. I often wondered whether any of his ritzy Hollywood guests from that night were watching.

    1. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

      A number of years ago, the on-air team of one of our local morning shows brought their favourite holiday recipes to share on air. One of the anchors brought her famous artichoke dip… that she accidentally made with pickled artichokes. And they discovered it on air. The video makes the rounds every year, and I’ve seen it go viral beyond my local area, too. It’s pretty fantastic.

      1. SAS*

        This makes me CRY laughing every time I see it!! “There’s no vinegar?!! But that’s all I can taste!” Dead.

    2. Tin Cormorant*

      I have heard that ants are very clean as insects go, are edible, and supposedly taste a bit citrusy (thanks to the formic acid). I haven’t eaten them myself, but I wouldn’t consider it a “throw out this whole meal” level disaster if some fell in my pot as I was cooking.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        To my palate at least, formic acid tastes kinda peppery and nice! (I have had an ant problem in my house in the past, and I have accidentally eaten ants on many occasions.)

  39. Anita Brake*

    LW #5, I am in awe! Chocolate croissants! And, that HR tried to get you to not bring bread pudding not made with bread…just wow. Good on you!!

  40. MarieX*

    For #10 – a lot of produce bags are compostable and made of plant starch, not plastic. In fact if it melted away completely, it probably was. So it wouldn’t have been plastic in there, and wouldn’t have hurt you to eat it.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Years ago, a friend had a package made of corn starch. She thought she’d reuse it. Imagine her surprise when it dissolved in her hand as she rinsed it off!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Did she paddle around in the sink looking for it like the little raccoon with his cotton candy?
        Seriously though I’m imagining her face and :’D

    2. Mister_L*

      At a previous job a delivery came in where the fragile material in the box was surrounded by corn packing chips. One of my coworkers reached in the box and just started eating them.

    3. Jo*

      I was the writer on this and, sadly, I don’t think that’s possible. This happened in the 80’s way before compostable bags was a “thing”. It was just the regular plastic bag from the grocery store produce section.

      To this day, I’m not sure WHY he confided in me. It was days later and came up after yet another co-worked raved about the dish and had walked away. Maybe he felt guilty and had to share with someone. I never said a word since there didn’t seem to be any point.

  41. Auntie Crow*

    As a dairy-free person, the vegan chili (#3) and pizza (#4) stories gave me joy.

    Until I read #10 and now I am in agony.

  42. Yup!*

    Mashed potato candy is a thing in Quebec (bonbons aux patates). Often made with peanut butter. I’ve had it so often I wouldn’t think twice about it, although… I don’t think anyone uses powdered potatoes.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I am sadly not the vegan chilli hero, but I can guarantee that Bosh’s Ultimate Chilli is the best I’ve ever tried! And I have tried a lot.

  43. ConstantlyComic*

    Did the lady going to HR about the pound cake bread pudding remind anyone else of the lady who went to her union rep because she lost a banana bread bake off to her manager?

  44. JaneDough(not)*

    A thousand thanks to all contributors; this collection is not only a treat but exactly the treat I need right now. And of course thank you, Alison, for soliciting and assembling them, and for this great website.

    Best wishes to all.

  45. stratospherica*

    #6 reminds me: our office has its own convenience store that, among other things, sells freshly baked products like doughnuts, croissants and other pastries. One time, a guy bought a croissant, placed it in a paper bag, placed it in the toaster oven and then turned it on. Everyone in the store gathered around as he took out a flaming bag dropping little charred pieces of paper on the floor, like cavemen gathering around a smoldering tree trunk after a lightning strike.

    1. Enai*

      Okay, that clearly was some kind of performance art, wasn’t it? Some kind of clever commentary on needlessly complicated SOP which actually doesn’t accomplish what it’s supposed to and makes everything worse?


      1. stratospherica*

        I wish it was, but I think it was just a very book-smart techy systems engineer person not understanding basic thermodynamics

  46. casey*

    #7, if you read this… what on earth? I imagine this wasn’t about the raises, since there was no way to guarantee that timing. So what was the secrecy all about?

  47. Worldwalker*

    Update on the Hormel chili I tested:

    It was pretty bad. Not awful, per se, but the texture was mushy and the only heat in it was chili powder. Wimpy chili powder. I’m a wimp about heat and I was considering adding some Sriracha. By and large, you could make better chili with some canned beans, some onions, some ground meat, some pepper, and some Sriracha sauce, combined as desired.

    1. Foxy Hedgehog*

      Despite the name there are no real religious connections with the candy so it’s not that you are Jewish. I grew up in the US Midwest never having heard of it as well. It appears to have southern US origins (pecans are a part of the recipe).

      1. SomeWords*

        Midwest here. I’ve made divinity candy before, many years ago. All I remember is the recipe is extremely simple, but the folding/stirring until the consistency is correct takes some stamina.

        I believe it’s a pretty old fashioned confection. In my opinion the finished product doesn’t justify the amount of work to make it, which is why it’s becoming a forgotten food.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        I think they call it divinity candy because when made properly it tastes like heaven! I miss my grandma, who could whip up perfect divinity every time, and she always made a batch with no nuts just for me.

  48. Mister_L*

    While the coworkers in #3 deserved to be embarrassed, I hope the LW there was a list of allergens next to every dish, or this could end with someone in the hospital.

    1. Fishsticks*

      Hi, #3 here.

      I am… genuinely not sure if we listed allergens or not? It’s been some years and my memory of the entire thing is largely centered around being petty and upset and not all the details. I feel like we didn’t list allergens individually, though, and it wasn’t an issue with anyone getting sick – I do remember one coworker had severe nut allergies, but I think she was the only one with any dietary restriction that wasn’t lactose intolerance.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I want it, too! I am in a dried bean club and I have more beans than is normal. Always looking for good recipes.

  49. LIZZIE*

    #6. I work with a number of people like this. Book brilliant, multiple degrees from prestigious schools, but sadly that couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag if their life depended on it. You really wonder just how they manage to survive on a daily basis.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      “Savage” is racist when used to describe a person/tribe/ethnicity/human. When you say that you “savaged the meat off the chicken bones”, that is an entirely correct description, indicating that you ripped the meat off the chicken with little regard for the integrity of the meat or those around you who might get hit by the meat shrapnel.

      1. SomeWords*

        To treat something the way a savage would. Who is a savage person/peoples? That is literally the meaning.

        It’s racist.

        1. JustaTech*

          I thought the verb form was related to the action of large carnivores – “observe how the wolves savage their prey”. As in – to energetically rip apart for the purposes of eating, often messily.

  50. Kesnit*


    How did you know her hands were unwashed? She was going to a potluck, meaning she was about to eat. It would make sense for her to have gone to the bathroom and wash her hands prior to arriving.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      You’d be surprised by how many people don’t wash their hands even after going to the bathroom. I mean, there’s a reason restaurants have to put up a sign for employees.

  51. Contracts Killer*

    #4 and the crop dusters brought back memories for me! There was a woman in my old job who was ALWAYS in the restroom making personal calls. One day she walked in just as I was walking into the stall. I told her that she probably wouldn’t want to stay in there with me, because, you know. Her response was, “It’s fine, I have two little boys, nothing bothers me.” Then she proceeds to call someone.

    Ok, challenge accepted. I started doing my business and I hear, “Oh…Oh my…Oh my God, I need to call you back” and then the sound of her sprinting out of the restroom.

  52. beans belong in burritos not brownies*

    #2: reminds me of the vegan black bean brownies someone brought in… that should have been left at home… far away from any unsuspecting victims… like me…….

  53. Bagel Brigade*

    #6: I never thought toasters were such a tricky appliance to understand until I had a coworker put butter on her bagel… THEN put it in the toaster… when there was an actual toaster oven two inches away….
    Just reminds me that there is no way to have imposter syndrome when you get to the work force and realize just how stupid most people are.

    1. SomeWords*

      Not all tik-tok kitchen hacks are legit I guess? I mean I’ve learned to cook mostly from online videos. And yes, I’ve seen those “put your steak right in the toaster” videos.

  54. Not your grandma*

    So, don’t eat the chicken or the divinity candy as made by this coworker. But, eat the yummy chili and bread pudding. Throw the figs. Definitely throw the figs! Got it. I will read these posts again and again and laugh really hard each time!!
    Happy Holidays!

  55. Craig*

    OP #3, you can actually make confectionery using mashed potatoes. In Scotland, we have a traditional sweet called macaroon bars, the main ingredient of which is mashed potatoes. There is a recipe here: I promise that they taste absolutely nothing at all like potato covered with chocolate, even though that is what they essentially are. If only this person had known! Mind you, I don’t know how well boxed potato flakes would do.

  56. Veryanon*

    Bread pudding: Sadly, I have no difficulty imagining someone calling HR to complain about a free dessert. *facepalm*

  57. Academic Idiots*

    N.6- I’ve worked many years at one of the places you mentioned and I’m totally not surprised. Lots of these “geniuses” can’t operate as human beings without an admin assistant/spouse/parent helping them out. On a different tack, I firmly believe that the more degrees someone has and the more letters after their name, the less of a decent human being they are. Yay academia!

  58. Sarah M*

    As a former admin of a Big Three Management Consulting Firm, can 100% confirm #6! Hope you figured out how Calcium works, Rob!

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