Monday, May 16, 2011

The Carry-In Effect

The Carry-In Effect is a scientific principle that explains why office people will eat anything that is carried into the workplace by another employee.

Stale donuts, leftover birthday cake, petrified Halloween candy--once it hits the break room table, your average team of middle-class white collar workers will morph into a mob of homeless people scoring their once-a-day at the soup kitchen.

(Lest you think I'm being snarky about my office mates, let me say right here that I am usually first in line.)

I got a chance to witness the Carry-In effect in action last week when one of my co-workers brought in something he said was "Chinese candy."

Apparently, the Chinese notion of what constitutes candy is very different from the American view. There were no Snickers, no Reese's Cups, no Hershey bars. There wasn't even yucky candy like Sweet Tarts, Mary Janes and the fruitcake of Halloween candy, Sixlets. Instead, the assortment included dried octopus, fish jerky, a preserved plum (which looked like a mummified, candied prune) and several things we couldn't identify.

Despite this, and despite knowing there are lead-contamination problems with Chinese foodstuffs, and even despite knowing we're computer programmers who need all of our brain cells to earn a living, we eventually sampled everything. (Except the prune. Go figure.)

In the gleeful free-for-all atmosphere that is part and parcel with the Carry-In Effect, it was only after I chomped the octopus down to a swallowable cud that I thought to check the expiration date.

September, 2010.

Maybe it should be called the Carrion Effect.


  1. That is very funny but so true. I've seen similar things at my work and I'm often guilty of eating or taking home food that everyone else thinks is too old, stale, etc.

    Despite my low food standards, I don't think I could handle any of those Chinese "treats" you mentioned.

  2. Oh my. I recognize the behavior but I think even my fellow workers would have left the Chinese treats alone. At least until all the old, old Halloween candy was well and truly gone.

  3. Guilty.

    I can eat a full breakfast, and still find room for that stuff at 9:00 AM.

    I can also name everyone who NEVER brings in anything, ever.

  4. I have seen the effect many times, and cut a bitch that tried to grab that last slice of cake away from me.

  5. The Carrion Effect. :-)

    I learned about Asian "candy" the hard way. Just because something's been dyed bright green doesn't mean you should expect "lime". :-)


  6. Can we have a critique of the octopus, please. Was it chewy? Crunchy? Sweet? Savory?

  7. This is so funny because its so true. Its because its 'free' we just have to have it wheter its tasty or not. Having just been in China these sweets should have come with a warning sign....

  8. I read this aloud to hubby- knowing he works with a few chinese fellows I ask him if this happens, he said yes...then he said, he never thought to look for a date...and he is so OCD at home about that! Once I bought turkey, it sat there, and I ask him why he did not eat it, he said it had expired the day he decided to make a sandwich...I was upset and took it back, but I know what you mean by this...however, I am very picky and would only eat what I like...a picky sweet eater at that! LOL great post, you always come up with good ones!

  9. I must be the Queen of old candy..I have some in jars that is very old..I thought that they might be collectors pieces someday:)


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