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Office Fridges: What Would the Founding Fathers Do?

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Mar 16, 2015

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player and subscribe in iTunes.

When you share a communal fridge in an office or apartment, your philosophy about how that fridge should be used says a lot about how you think society should function.

-How should resources be allocated?

-How much individual liberty should we each have?

-When should big government intervene?

This week on The Sporkful, I debate the etiquette and ethics of communal refrigerators. It's the second episode in The Sporkful's special investigation of office eating.

And be sure to check out Parts 1, 3, and 4 in our series at the links below:

True Crime: Investigating An Office Fridge Food Theft

Even Spies Hate Stale Bread: Secrets Of The CIA Cafeteria Revealed

Is Free Office Coffee More Valuable Than Healthcare?


First up, Sporkful callers share their views on how to form a more perfect workplace kitchen.

"If you leave it in the fridge...over night while you're not at work, you're essentially giving other people permission to use it," Shane in Syracuse argues.

There's one crucial caveat to Shane's rule: "When they use too much of it, I think that's unacceptable."

But Julie in Daytona Beach takes the opposite stance:

"We have to be stewards of our world, and we have to not take things that belong to others," she says. "If you see a car that has the keys in it, you shouldn't be thinking, 'Oh I can take that...same with the salsa.'"


Andrew in Madison, Wisconsin, holds the middle ground:

"My philosophy is that if food is in there that a roommate has forgotten about, it's fair game. You're doing everyone a public service."

He has an unconventional strategy for determining when a food has truly been abandoned. Listen and learn, eaters.

Where do you stand? Listen along and take our poll (below):

Later in the show, we hear how some food theft victims have fought back with notes, shaming emails, and other "tactics" -- including an infamous incident in our own Sporkful offices at New York Public Radio.

Plus, a habitual food thief breaks his silence to confess why he once stole pad thai from his boss.

"In the moment I was so hungry, I didn't think...about the fact that someone had left it behind and was looking forward to it," Clay in Detroit says. "I'm a food thief. I think I have a problem."


Stay tuned next week as we expose the contents of the suggestion box at the CIA cafeteria (spies not chefs!) and debate the merits of office potlucks.

Are these shared meals a microcosm of our society? And if so, what's the greater meaning of green bean casserole (shown above)?

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player and subscribe in iTunes.

Interstitial music in this episode by BWN Music:

- "Horn In The City" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

- "Hip Hop Slidester" by Steve Pierson

Photos: Flickr CC John Flinchbaugh / get directly down / Christopher Penn / Meal Makeover Moms

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