Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why You Don't Ask the Forensic Anthropologist to Make the Cookies - and other Holiday Office Party Tips

Office building occupants, whether they are law enforcement or CPA firms, run drills throughout the year, to test evacuation and security. I've been in a building where the fire alarm was going off and people were saying "OK, just let me finish downloading this. . . ". That's not the way to get people to move quickly from their desks.

Simply have someone get on the intercom and say "there are Christmas cookies in the lunchroom".


The average cubicle worker and free food go together like vultures and carcasses. Hmm, I had better rephrase that. Not implying that vultures have higher standards but in some offices you could put throw some Purina dog chow in with some Chex cereal and put out a sign "free party mix" and people would start noshing . I know, I used to party with med students who thought Oreos and Jagermeister was "impress the ladies" party food.

But those of you stuck in an office or cubicle all day know the feeling. You're hungry, you're bored, you hear the word free and . . . (besides calories during the holidays don't count).

But how do the various office holiday foods add up? Our office get together usually involves all of the wives providing hot dishes and the boss providing lots of roast pig so it's grand ( I bring my Favorite Party Layer Dip and some pies) but I've been to some in past jobs that left a little to be desired. .

While I am out on the road again -Home on the Range Holiday Office Food explained.

To start, there are five types of office party eaters.

The Forklift: They rumble around the background, looking, slowly assessing the terrain, then add full power, reach in and scoop up half of the cheese dip If you see someone with a very large scooped Frito in their hand, watch out.

The shoplifter: They appear totally uninterested, then quietly reach down and grab a Slim Jim, stick it in their pocket and retreat to their cubicle to store it with the goodies from the last office birthday celebration before anyone notices what is missing.

The holding pattern: These folks just sort of make circular patterns around the room, never really stopping to eat. If you ask, they say "I'm trying to decide". While they count the sprinkles on a cookie to see if they'll get the best one, most of the food disappears.

The Homer: Male or female, they'll stare googly eyed at the food with a "mmmm. . . . pimento loaf. . ." and then grab a portion and head for the liquid refreshments. They WILL be back.

The Hoover: A subspecies of the Homer, the Hoover will eat anything, and everything, sucking up even the last half a peanut from the empty Chex Mix bowl.

I'm a Homer.

So let's review a sampling from a prior office I worked for, rating the food from most to least popular, with scientific comments. Seriously, add in the types of eaters and it was like watching an anthropological experiment before my eyes.

Chocolate espresso truffles - Have you ever seen one of those once a year bridal sales? Picture that and replace the brides with piranha. Yeah.

Chocolate and peanut butter buckeyes - Even those that hate the Ohio football team scarfed these up.

Bugles - What is it about bugles? They were brought in by one of the office bachelors. They're shaped like little dunce caps for a reason. A mixture of cornmeal, partially hydrogenated yard gnomes and salt, they are really bad for you. Yet once you eat one you can't quit. I leave some out for Santa.

Teriyaki beef sticks - A favorite despite being another store bought treat.

Gingerbread men: Being homemade, they went quietly into the void rather quickly.

Cheese ball with crackers - Covered in parsley, it looked like a Magic 8 Ball Chia Pet. But with three kinds of cheese, red pepper, Worcestershire sauce and secret herbs and spices, it was a hit. Made by one of the few females in the office, there wasn't even enough left for a tox box.

Brownies - A disappointing performance from a usual birthday crowd favorite.

Mystery meat logs - I'm not sure what they were made of, but they were some sort of spiced meat mixture shaped into little sticks and baked. I could only refer to them as Spampons. They were as popular as the name infers.

Fresh baby carrots (no ranch dip) - You have a room full of hungry guys. This is not food, this is what food EATS. The crowd was less than pleased.

Clementines (golf ball sized oranges) - See above comment

Fruitcake - It and its twin disappeared, but only because I needed a set of wheel chocks for the Cub.

Pimento loaf - I've not seen this product since grade school. Maybe someone brought it because it resembles bologna with a Christmas tree ornament ground up in it. The first few pieces were gone quickly, predators being tricked by the meat aroma. The remains lay pale and sweating, two hours later, til one of the shoplifters pounced on them. Oh the humanity.

Office punch - Some sort of juice served with sherbet and 7 up, served at weddings that don't allow dancing since 1954. The Exxon Valdez spill was more popular. Colleagues were observed swilling warm diet coke directly from the 2 liter bottles to get rid of the taste of the pimento loaf, rather than drink the punch.

Gluten Free Rice Cakes - coasters!

Candy canes - They are called "candy canes" because mint infused glass shards doesn't sound as appealing. Most of them were still remaining the morning after, even Hoover didn't polish them off. My faith in my fellow coworkers was restored!

You all enjoy whatever festivities come your way!


  1. Thank God I don't work in an office.

    Have a safe trip!!

  2. Ah yes, pretty much nailed em all... And the food? too...LOL And the REAL kiss of death is the "Oh, you'll LOVE it" comment...

  3. Fruit cake is not for eating. It is for throwing at Zombies, door stops, passing around to other family members, (we passed one around for about ten years.)or to give to your mail man.

  4. I'd like to add the "Bloodhound": the guy that can detect the presence of free food from the other wing of the building. :-)

  5. Travel safely, and stay away from the office buffet. Old NFO is right.

  6. I don't know why fruitcake gets no respect.

    It makes fine body armor.

  7. Fruitcake also makes a good backstop for rounds up to 38spl.
    If it's properly "aged", it will stop a 44 mag!

    Thanks for the chuckle, Brigid.
    Be safe out there!

  8. Thanks for the laughs!

    I'm a Hoover and could fall into a couple of the other categories too.

  9. Have a safe trip and you nailed it! I usually don't show up for such things and +1 for the Sgt. Friday Pic!

  10. My boys cracked up at the bugles comment. They love those things, too. Shared this post on the FB page.

  11. "Gluten Free Rice Cakes - coasters!"

    Exactly! That's the only thing those vile things are suited for. *grin*

    ..and yes I have to admit to being a Hoover as well.


  12. You forgot the garlic goldfish crackers...

  13. My personal favorite - Jameson's Baked Bean. Start with Bushes Baked Beans then add some Jameson'. Then add a little more Jameson's. A little bit more. Pour in a some more Jameson's. ADD IN MORE JAMESON'S. Just don't use this one on the day that they are drug testing the staff.....

  14. Back East at the corporate office, it's either humongous breakfast muffins from a local bakery, or Ledo's Pizza loaded with precooked bacon and other goodies.

    Sometimes there is cake. But I'd rather have the pizza :)

  15. We have a lot of Hoovers here. Some guys live on Ramen noodles half the time so ANY free food is a step up. It's bad enough that when we have community pizzas delivered (an end of project thing) they have to announce the arrival in code on the PA system or the Hoovers will swoop in like lions and shoo us jackals away.

  16. The ricecake comment made my ay

  17. Born and raised Southern Baptist. By default, that makes me a Hoover. You're not a True Hoover, though, until you can manage a paper plate (not the sturdier styrofoam ones) with at least three layers of various food items piled on top, holding the plate with one hand, two or more beverages in your other hand, silverware either jabbed into the Great Pyramid of Grazing or providing defense by sticking out of your pocket, and NOT SPILLING ANYTHING as you navigate the room looking for a suitable landing site like a receiver pulling a kickoff return touchdown and twisting through the midfield instead of hugging the line (this move is useful, but often impracticable due to wallflowers). It truly is an art form.

  18. The photo of Barkley sparked my interest because we just had a black Lab stray show up at our house. Ours (Louie) has a bit of white on his muzzle which prompted out vet to think he was an older dog but my guess is around 3yo. How old is Barkely?

  19. Heh! I have to admit, I'm a "Homer.: :-s

  20. I will agree that commercially produced fruitcakes are disgusting, which is why it is so maligned. However, my mother-in-law's recipe is quite good, especially once the cheap candied fruits are replaced with dried apricots, raisins, dates, and fresh cranberries. It is a moist cake with lots of spices, crunchy nuts, and fruit. It is the perfect accompaniment to a few slices of 4 year sharp cheddar and some venison summer sausage.

  21. Awesome list. You made me laugh. Wow, I need to go buy bugles now, don't I? Yikes. I couldn't NOT miss my old office job more. There is ALWAYS a "bloodhound" in the office as well. Love that one.

  22. Good thing the cookies weren't made by a proctologist or a gynecologist; God only knows what they would have looked like...

  23. Ya'll haven't had my mom's fruit cake. The fumes alone will get you seriously tipsy and it is so moist and yummy you can't stop eating it. I've seen my hubby licking the plastic wrap it came in LOL!

    That said, I'm a Homer too, fill up the plate with this and that and then back later :D

    PS gluten free rice cakes are delish, esp the white cheddar :D

  24. Gluten free rice cakes aren't so bad - with enough blackberry jam on top.

    My mother made the absolute BEST fruit cake. If we were very good, we could have a piece. Nobody got to have seconds, though everyone wanted seconds. It took a couple of weeks to get all the ingredients ready for baking. Unfortunately, her recipe appears to have disappeared many years ago.

  25. Always dangerous to bring snickerdoodles..can lose a hand that way!

  26. Gregg Barkley is 8 and a half. He started going grey a little bit after six years old.

  27. Oh yes! Free Food.

    I'm a nurse so most of our party food is what patients and relatives bring in as gifts for er.. well, doing our jobs. It adds a piquant spice of risk to the whole proceedings:

    Are those the mince pies that Mrs B with the suppurating sores brought in?

    Try a strawberry, pesto, pickled onion and chocolate tart, I think they're from old Mrs C with the Dementia.

    Still the staff supplied food is almost as questionable: icing done with bladder syringes and served in a bedpan (please lord I hope the sterilizer is working).

    I'm a hybrid bloodhound/homer:

    “Hi, I just called in, whilst passing (a ward up two floors in another building, at the other end of the hospital) to borrow two bags of Hartmans. Oh I see you have some nibbles. No don't worry about cutlery I just happen to have my spork here.”

  28. J.R. - when you get back from Afghanistan I'll make you some Guinness Gingerbread.

    Able - welcome! I laughed so hard at the bladder syringe thought. And yes, pray the sterilization stuff works :-)

  29. Brigid
    Thank you kind lady for the welcome, I've been lurking here for.. well, quite a while, and enjoyed all the stories, comments and even some or the recipes (Hey, despite being a man who favours the old Heinlein quote I still seem to manage to burn the water boiling the kettle).

    As for laughing at me, Ha, I'm used to ladies laughing at me, although they usually wait until after I've asked them for a dance/date before doing so. My sense of humour is renowned in the area, in fact not a day goes by without one of my friends telling me I'm full of wit (at least I think it was wit they said. Yes must have been) :-)

    Keep up the good work

  30. From an old lady in Ohio:

    I just stumbled in from Rev. Paul's Blog via a remarkable New York gal's dairy farm blog.

    Dang. This country can't be done for yet.

    At least not while we've got fire-breathing, gun-toting, laughter generating . . did I say - hilarious! . . and hugely talented persons like you.

    Lordy. I've sent your blog link to everyone I give a damn about.

    Merry Christmas!

  31. Cathy - thank you! And welcome!


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