Who Took My Lunch?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Helena Echlin, writes the advice column "Table Manners" for, offers advice for preventing lunch pilfering from the office refrigerator.

How have you dealt with refrigerator thieves?


Helena Echlin

Comments [20]

Jane from New York

I once left yogurt in the office fridge during lunch and when I came back to enjoy a late afternoon snack it was gone. Not only that, the nice person who took it was gracious enough to leave the empty yogurt container rinsed out next to the office sink, but of course, wasn't smart enough to pitch it into the office recylcing bin. smart!

May. 14 2009 09:02 PM
hongdb from medford, OR

The "breast milk in the office 'fridge" story is an OLD, many-times debunked urban legend.

Mar. 02 2009 06:58 AM
Outdated Floyd from Philadelphia

Back in late 2003, I worked in a scholastic-test-processing outfit in southern New Jersey, where the communal fridges had the notes attached stating the obvious:"If it's not yours, don't eat it." The fact that people in the company's employ had to be reminded of this basic bit of civility, to me, did not say very good things about the company.

Sure enough, the company resorted to boorish means (having supervisors undertrain the test-scoring personnel and invent group-wide performance incidents) to deliver the clients satisfactory results at minimal monetary cost-even if "problem" school districts were hidden from scrutiny as a result.

Feb. 27 2009 11:31 AM
Rob from The Bronx

(Sorry orginally posted in wrong place)
The problem with the fake mold is that it is gross. I have never stolen food but I hate grossness so every so often I have to go through the fridge at work because people sometimes forget their food etc. creating unpleasant odors. So the food with the fake mold could get thrown out.

Feb. 27 2009 11:23 AM
Jeffrey from Manhattan

Why not rig up a locked container using a small luggage lock?

Feb. 27 2009 11:22 AM
downtown from downtown

My mother told me a story from when she was working at Bell Labs in the early 60s. She and another secretary would bring peanuts (in the shell) to snack on during the day. One of the engineers would always come by and eat handfulls...without offering to chip in for their cost (both of these ladies were the sole wage earners for their families at this time).
So...they took a bunch of shells and glued them together and put them back in the bowl. The engineer got the hint.

Feb. 27 2009 11:19 AM
Yasmine from Manhattan

When I was an undergraduate, someone stole about half of my birthday cake, which blatantly had "Happy Birthday Yasmine" written on it, from my dorm fridge. I was so sad! I never found the thief, but left lots of angry notes in the dorm kitchen!

Feb. 27 2009 11:18 AM
Laurie from Brooklyn

In college, food theft was rampant from the dorm refrigerators. It all stopped, for a little while at least, after someone placed a note on the outside of the fridge telling everyone to feel free to eat the food but to beware: one of the items inside was "sabotaged" with a certain bodily fluid.

Feb. 27 2009 11:17 AM
Mary Ann from Elizabeth NJ

My husband told me a story about when his dad was in grammar school. Some kids were stealing his lunch, which included chocolate chip cookies.

When he told his mom about it, she prepared a special batch of chocolate chip cookies for the thieves, replacing the chocolate chips with chocolate x-lax.

It was the last time that his lunch was ever stolen.

I'm just sayin'.....Bwa ha ha!

Feb. 27 2009 11:16 AM

My favorite work email broadcast read, "I hope whoever took my leftover sushi from the first floor fridge enjoyed it, since I was going to return it to _____ after discovering a worm."

Feb. 27 2009 11:16 AM
Donna from NYC

I worked for 15 years at a major NYC radio station. Our nationally-famous afternoon host, who was making well into 6 figures, was always stole people's lunches. He had(has) a sense that made him feel no remorse. I confronted him whe I caught him eating our payroll person's lunch and he offered to give her $5. I accepted the offer on her behalf and then he said he'd pay the next day. He never paid. But from that time on, he locked his door when eating "his" lunch.

Feb. 27 2009 11:15 AM
Noah from Brooklyn

Though not an office fridge I was living somewhere with a communal fridge and was marinating raw chicken and went to retrieve it to cook and eat when I found it missing so I went to the the dining room and found my friend eating my raw marinated chicken, uncooked.

Feb. 27 2009 11:15 AM
Jason from brooklyn

It wasn't at work, but I recently found out that my roommate at home had eaten the last of my frosting left over from making cupcakes with my girlfriend a week previous. I had been saving that frosting for just such an occasion that I would want it, which made it even worse that he ate it! Anyway, I emailed him and asked point blank if he had done it. When he responded (sheepishly) that he had, I told him how not cool it was and how I had REALLY WANTED that frosting. Anyway, after offering me gummy worms, which was nice, but not anywhere near the greatness of frosting, he went ahead and bought me a replacement. So I ate some while watching the Godfather last night. With him. Cause, you know, who can eat a whole container of frosting???

Feb. 27 2009 11:15 AM

More effective than even the nicest note.

Feb. 27 2009 11:14 AM
Ann from Manhattan

Many, many, many years ago, when i was an inordinately silly young thing making my boyfriend's daily lunches, i'd draw a skull-and-crossbones in black marker on every bag: easy to identify, never stolen! - A.

Feb. 27 2009 11:14 AM
hjs from 11211

no more rocky mountain news! oh dear where will i get my ski reports!!

Feb. 27 2009 11:14 AM

This anti-theft sandwich bag may be more effective than the nicest note.

Feb. 27 2009 11:13 AM
Chris from Brooklyn

I used to work with a guy who ate people's lunches every day, and everyone knew it. Even being caught red-handed didn't stop him, he would insist on complete denial. We found out later (after he got fired) that he had faked his resume and portfolio - seems like he was living in an invented world.

Feb. 27 2009 11:13 AM
rosie from brooklyn

Have you seen these amazing "anti-theft lunch bags" complete with fake mold?

Perfect for deterring thieves...

Feb. 27 2009 11:13 AM
Niina from Brooklyn, NY

One could always invest in those newfangled anti-theft lunch bags that look like they have mold on them...


...of course, they might cause your coworkers to dispose of your lunch in a cleaning fit.

Feb. 27 2009 11:12 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.