stop eating my food people!
May 7, 2006 1:39 PM   Subscribe

How do I get people to stop eating my food? We have a common refrigerator on my hallway (in a dorm at college), and someone at 3 of the 4 fruit tarts that I had put in there on Friday night (and no, I didn't label them as mine, but that's beside the point. I'd like to post a humorous, but clear note on the fridge commenting that taking other's food is not ok.

So far, i've got:
PLEASE DON'T EAT MY FOOD. I need a big, comedic finish. Help me, oh wise and creative MeFites!
posted by chefscotticus to Grab Bag (58 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
"Don't drink this 'cause I spit in it."
posted by fixedgear at 1:41 PM on May 7, 2006

posted by dydecker at 1:42 PM on May 7, 2006

the all-caps are important for maxium psycho effect.
posted by dydecker at 1:46 PM on May 7, 2006

Best answer: I simply labelled my food as "NOT YOURS" when I lived in the dorms. It actually worked better than sticking my name on it, since then people couldn't take it - think they would tell me later, and then forget.

PLEASE DON'T EAT MY FOOD is not going to get you very far unless your big finish is BECAUSE I AM ON A SPECIAL NUCLEAR WASTE ONLY DIET.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:46 PM on May 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:46 PM on May 7, 2006

"Dear Food Thief: GOTCHA! Revenge is a dish best served cold, as are turd-contaminated tarts. Here's hoping you catch my diarrhea, jerk!"
posted by five fresh fish at 1:47 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sorry, but you gotta label.

No label = free for the taking, for most people.

In my house we have colored stickers for this.
posted by k8t at 1:50 PM on May 7, 2006

What's that book or film where the guy just labelled his milk "milk experiment"?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:50 PM on May 7, 2006 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: PLEASE DON'T EAT MY FOOD
-- we're doing recipe testing for stool softeners.
posted by chefscotticus at 1:52 PM on May 7, 2006

Someone is eating my food. To rectfiy this problem I am now putting a big wad of spit in everything that's labeled as mine. Eat at your own risk.

Alternatively, you could try this experiment: Buy some cheap food that you know someone will eat, spice it up with tabasco sauce or something similar and then wait for the culprit;-)
posted by invisible ink at 2:03 PM on May 7, 2006

At a tech support place i worked i would open the packages in the freezer and put a note that says "Eat if you wish, but I've been fairly sick lately and sneezed all over it. I may be lying but do you really want to chance that?" It seemed to work better.
posted by nadawi at 2:05 PM on May 7, 2006

1. Label everything ("SPECIMEN" works well) or expect it to be eaten.
2. Store your stuff in an opaque container - less tempting, more effort.
3. Bitch about it at the next hall meeting, provided you have them.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:13 PM on May 7, 2006

"I spat in / sneezed on this" risks someone writing underneath "So did I."

I've heard of people in similar situations using a label marked "milk experiment".
posted by rjt at 2:13 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


uh, don't do that. a friend of mine did that and got called in to talk to a dean to make sure he wasn't going to shoot up the school. :)

you could always develop weird taste in food and only eat things no one would ever want to steal.
posted by clarahamster at 2:17 PM on May 7, 2006

Make some dark-colored food, such as brownies or grape juice. Add a touch of Methylene Blue (available over the counter at most pharmacies) to the mixture. It will turn the culprits urine a bright shade of blue and usually gives them a good scare.

Listen for the screams from the bathroom and you'll have your culprit.
posted by fatbobsmith at 2:27 PM on May 7, 2006 [4 favorites]

Are they eating just unlabeled food? Is this a one time thing, or a continual propblem?
IME, unlabeled items are often "up for grabs" in any communal kitchen. Put your name on things, and most decent people will leave them be. And odds are, tarts put in a dorm fridge, on a Friday night no less, were consumed by people too intoxicated to deal with the moral dilemmas of "would it be wrong to eat this" and only thought "ooooh.. snacks!"

However, if they're also digging into stuff with your name on it, a "please don't eat my food threat threat threat" sign isn't going to do a bit of good. They know it's your food, they are fully aware that they did not buy it, and don't care. If they cared or a sign would stop them, well, they wouldn't be the sort of people to eat food with someone else's name on them.

So, realistically, to get them to stop, you have two options. One is the baited "have a bottle of tobasco/box of x-lax with that, jerk" food. BF Skinner would approve. And a night in the bathrooms will certanly make them pause before digging into someone else's lunch again.

The other is to get a locking box (like an old school lunchbox with a tab for a small padlock, or just a borning old locking box from an office supply store) and keep your stuff in that. Sure, not as fun as threats and attempted food poisoning, but hell, you live in a dorm, do you really want to share a bathroom with someone who just ate an entire box of x-lax?

or, you know, set up a hidden camera and attempt to catch them. Webcam with motion detector or something. At the very least it'll be entertaining.
posted by Kellydamnit at 2:30 PM on May 7, 2006

You could get a small container and a lock. There are some ideas in this thread.
posted by FreezBoy at 2:31 PM on May 7, 2006

I've found that THIS IS NOT YOURS, ASSHOLE usually makes the point.
posted by cmonkey at 2:35 PM on May 7, 2006

I simply labelled my food as "NOT YOURS" when I lived in the dorms. It actually worked better than sticking my name on it, since then people couldn't take it - think they would tell me later, and then forget.

This might work especially well if you store cheese in the fridge.

Seriously, though, I echo k8t's point - no label means free. Once they've proven that they won't respond to labelling (whether with your name or with "experiment" or whatever), then go out of your way to be crafty.

On preview, locked boxes seem like a fine idea if your floormates are depraved food-stealers.
posted by pinespree at 2:36 PM on May 7, 2006

My favorite was a friend who added a label to a milk container that read: this is not milk. Worked like a charm.
posted by thejoshu at 2:38 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

I noticed this when I stayed in university halls of residence. My food rarely went missing (mainly because I ate out all the time instead of going in the terrible kitchens), but some people just seemed to have no qualms about taking other people's food.

One guy I know even took some sausages out of the freezer once, held them up to the people in the room and asked "are anyone's here?" before proceeding to fry them up and eat them. The brazen lack of guilt astonished me -- I just don't think it had ever occured to him that it might be wrong.

Oh, the question? What I'm getting at here is that a nice note might work, since all the cases I've ever seen have been a lack of thought rather than malicious theft. If you're looking for a better solution, another friend found that putting a mini-fridge in her room worked well, and meant she could have breakfast each morning without having to go near the kitchen.
posted by reklaw at 2:38 PM on May 7, 2006

Can you afford to get a mini-fridge for your own room?

Like the internets, people will revert into complete dumbass assholes if they perceive that they're anonymous.
posted by porpoise at 3:02 PM on May 7, 2006

If you're looking for a better solution, another friend found that putting a mini-fridge in her room worked well, and meant she could have breakfast each morning without having to go near the kitchen.
That's a really good idea. When I was in school almost everyone had a fridge in their room, and just used the big one for larger items. My school actually rented them out, too.

Most likely silly at this point in the game (aren't finals, like, now?) but I bet you could get a great deal on one at a garage sale over the summer from someone who just finished school or moved off campus.
posted by Kellydamnit at 3:02 PM on May 7, 2006

Milk, sausages and so forth are one thing, but there is no note with the power to counteract the draw of 4 fruit tarts (and on a friday night). The only solution is buy less and eat and share all such items immediately and with gusto, because they will probably be pinched anyway, and non-anonymous eaters are more likey to give you fruit tarts sometimes.
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:10 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Label it "'s soul donut, do not eat!". As soon as you find out someone did indeed eat it, go crawling backwards in the hallway, and yelling "Your mother sucks cocks in hell". Throw up a lot for added effects.
posted by qvantamon at 3:20 PM on May 7, 2006

Just label it with your name. Why is this so complicated?
posted by pieoverdone at 3:23 PM on May 7, 2006

Feeling nasty? Buy some tarts, add some chili powder, and leave 'em in the frig. Nothing works better than negative feedback to discourage undesirable behavior in lab rats.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:34 PM on May 7, 2006 [2 favorites]

Another possibility: peanut butter and garlic sandwiches.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:37 PM on May 7, 2006

Label them with "VEGAN." The HURF DURF mouthbreather types who steal your food would think that this means it tastes like alfalfa-flavoured cardboard, thus would avoid it when afflicted with the post-drunk munchies.

Disclaimer: I've had many a tasty vegan meal.

Best solution: Kellydamnit's comment about picking up a room fridge at a moving-out sale. Not only would you be assured that nobody will take your food, you won't have your vittles sharing space with stuff that's been left there for Cthulhu knows how long. It'll also be tamper-proof (i.e. if the thieves decide to take revenge after being Ex-Lax'd).
posted by hangashore at 3:53 PM on May 7, 2006

Mmmmm....peanut butter and garlic! I'd nick those...

Seriously, real or suggested food adulteration just begs for retaliation. I can see the recipient of ex-lax brownies responding by hot-saucing every freakin' container in the fridge.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:54 PM on May 7, 2006

Response by poster: Can you afford to get a mini-fridge for your own room?

yeah, i own one...but it's in a friend's room and I graduate in 2 weeks, so not gonna happen.

PS: this is great. I think I'm just going to print out this whole thing and tape it to the door. thanks all!
posted by chefscotticus at 4:01 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

how's about a napoleon dynamite sign that says -
"gimme some of your tarts!"
"no, go find your own!"
posted by kooop at 4:03 PM on May 7, 2006

Good grief. Just label them with your name. And reduce temptation with opaque containers.
posted by desuetude at 4:04 PM on May 7, 2006

Oh, and if you can't have a fridge in your room, just get a decent cooler. Smaller, cheaper, and portable.
posted by desuetude at 4:04 PM on May 7, 2006

Best answer: Someone drank the Coke I left in a common fridge when I was in university. However, he at least had the decency to leave a dollar and post a satirical William Carlos Williams send-off. It was something like:

I have drunk up
the Coke
that was in
the mini bar

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
it was delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

I decided that I could handle that sort of theft, since he left money and art and satire. But, for other items, I put them in a double brown paper bag with my name on it. People are less likely to risk being caught unwrapping two noisy bags with someone else's name on them.
posted by acoutu at 4:17 PM on May 7, 2006 [12 favorites]

I'd recommend just leaving a Survey on the fridge:

This fridge has been selected for an Experiment, please fill out the questionaire below after eating any food that isn't yours.

What did you eat: ______________

Did you taste any of the following substances:

[]Metal Shavings

Mark any complications:
[]I was puking for 30 minutes straight
[]Me Myself and I all liked it
[]So many Colors, Man, who left the window open?
[]My throat seems to be bleeding
posted by hatsix at 4:34 PM on May 7, 2006 [10 favorites]

"No label" does NOT mean "free for the taking'. It might just mean "couldn't find a Sharpie" or "fresh out of Post-Its". Using "no label" as an excuse is pure rude assholery.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:59 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

ersatzkat, it is a pretty common convention in a lot of places. Maybe you and I are thoughtful enough to make sure it's policy before eating, but plenty of people are happy to assume.

Either way, if it's your food and you're not 100% everyone there is on the same page, putting your name on it is going to make the message clear, and can't hurt. Maybe the person who eats your unlabeled food is a pure rude asshole, but you're still hungry. :)
posted by pinespree at 5:22 PM on May 7, 2006

Seen on label left near food:
"For the antidote, contact 'soandso' at 555-555-5555."

Seemed to always work- I never touched it.
posted by id at 6:32 PM on May 7, 2006

Eh, in my dorm, if it wasn't yours, it wasn't yours, and nobody labelled anything. But we were 6 people sharing an apartment style residence. At the dorm next door, the communal fridge policy was anything without a name on it was considered an open donation. So, it's not outside the realm of possibility that 'no label' does, in fact, mean 'free for the taking' by the social convention or explicit rules of the dorm. Though, scotticus ought to be aware if that's the case.

Personally, I've always found it extra helpful to put the note in the food container where possible (obviously not with milk, for example). If they've already opened the container and then find the note, they feel extra guilty about it.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:35 PM on May 7, 2006

I don't recommend the "I spit in it" note. As noted in the other thread, you're inviting a "So did I!" response.

If putting your name on it doesn't stop pilferage, I suggest developing a taste for hot peppers.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:00 PM on May 7, 2006

Grabbing a tart out of an open box isn't theft in some people's minds, in the same way that wandering in an open door isn't breaking and entering. Wrap a couple of strips of duct tape around your food items. Taking the box out of the fridge, trying to peel off the tape, and mutilating the container should make them think twice. You'll take the time to open them (a few seconds with a knife / razor blade), but chances are somebody with the munchies will go for easier prey.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:06 PM on May 7, 2006

What's that book or film where the guy just labelled his milk "milk experiment"?

"Rydell got his bag of cornflakes out of the cupboard and carefully unrolled it. About enough for a bowl. He opened the fridge and took out a plastic, snap-top, liter container with a strip of masking-tape across the side. He'd written MILK EXPERIMENT on the masking-tape with a heavy marker.

'What's that?' Hernandez asked.


'Why's it say "experiment"?'

'So nobody'll drink it. I figured it out in the dorm at the Academy.'"

William Gibson's Virtual Light.
posted by mojohand at 8:24 PM on May 7, 2006 [4 favorites]

For those who might be tempted to spike their food with a drug like ex-lax....

Suppose you get the one person who's allergic to the stuff? Or they're taking another drug (like an MAOI which seems to react badly with EVERYTHING) and they get really, really sick?

You could get sued, at the very least. It's at least something to consider.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:26 PM on May 7, 2006

Best answer: Put in something very tempting and little, maybe a jelly doughnut, but poke a little hole in it and put in a liberal amount of garlic AND habanero, tobasco and whatever else edible but hot/spicy/strong that you can think of. Laxatives if you feel truly evil. One big bite should be enough.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:47 PM on May 7, 2006

Are people actually allergic to ex-lax? Eh, stick with the hot stuff then.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:48 PM on May 7, 2006

Add an "expire" date from two weeks ago. People won't touch it, and unless it stinks, they won't throw it away either.

A friend made a casserole for a potluck and had to leave it in her dorm fridge overnight. She was scared someone with the munchies would eat it, so she wrote "Grandma's Goat Stew" or something weird like that. I can't remember what she actually put, but it was untouched the next day.
posted by SassHat at 9:01 PM on May 7, 2006

posted by ColdChef at 9:16 PM on May 7, 2006

A shared fridge is just like a prison cafeteria.
The first time someone steals your food, you need to hunt them down and kill them.
Otherwise, you're always going to be at the mercy of Bubba(or your roommates).
posted by madajb at 11:12 PM on May 7, 2006

If words alone don't work : Pluck one of the shorter hairs from your head (preferrably right after you've washed your hair), then curl the hair the way you used to curl strips of paper at school. Drop it on top of the tart. When your tart thief makes another grab, it'll look... less tasty.
posted by mtonks at 12:18 AM on May 8, 2006

A friend of mine (I haven't found out to this day who it was) once wrote "MINE" on his chocolate, which for some reason is even better than "NOT YOURS", I think.

And the reason that "MINE" is better than just writing your name on it is that people will not only know that it would be stealing if they ate it, but they also can't ask you if they can have some. They can't think it would be okay if they took it because they know you, either.
posted by bloo at 3:26 AM on May 8, 2006

First step: label any and all food you intend to keep private.

Second step: if someone takes some of the labeled food, then leave a polite note on the outside of the refrigerator door.

Third step: if the pilfering continues to a large degree (rather than, say, once a semester), buy a minifridge and keep it in your room.

The tabasco/faux pubic hair/laxative/disgusting label solutions may discourage a thief, but meanwhile will piss off everyone else who's using the refrigerator. You have to ask yourself: given the choice of a few fruit tarts and the goodwill of people you are forced to live with, which is more important?
posted by La Cieca at 5:22 AM on May 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

When this happened to me, a note that said, "These Cokes belong to someone-- me. Please do not take them. Thanks" ended the problem. Polite but firm.

For most people, making them pause and think is enough to prevent stealing.

I wouldn't move directly to the Ex-Lax/tabasco/etc. approach yet, for the reason La Cieca gives. Plus it's probably just not necessary.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:58 AM on May 8, 2006

Best answer: What I ended up doing: posted everyone on the fridge....thanks.
posted by chefscotticus at 12:53 PM on May 8, 2006 [3 favorites]

[very cool]
posted by exlotuseater at 7:43 AM on May 9, 2006

Sorry I'm late- I somehow missed this thread.

Highly unrecommended, but funny (to me, anyhow) was what happened in my college dorm. Someone sent a really pissed-off (and rather profane) email to the dorm list about her stolen ice cream. Someone else (who got in a lot of trouble for even suggesting this idea) replied to the list suggested leaving poisoned brownies in there with a note saying, "Eat these and die." He claimed there was adequate warning.

The exchange lasted for days and resulted in disciplinary actions for people who abused the computer use policies as well as quite a few unsubscribe requests from the list.
posted by JMOZ at 8:45 AM on May 9, 2006

These just made Fark:

2 teens charged after putting laxative in teacher's tea

Mom helps girls bake ex-lax cookies

One more for the trifecta, and I told you you could be charged for spiking food!
posted by IndigoRain at 8:36 PM on May 10, 2006

i would either buy a mini fridge.. you can find one between 40 and 70 dollars or buy a inconspicuos lunchbox with a connecting handle that can be held shut with a pad lock.

my experience with college kids is that if they decide to they will eat anything... milk experiment or science specimen just because its screaming at them for a daring experience. dont feed into that. labels generally dont work. if someone is going to eat food that they didnt buy, a label wont stop them.. its amazing what people will take if they think noone will find out.
posted by trishthedish at 2:36 PM on May 11, 2006

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