Food or Foodstuff?

>> Tuesday, December 1, 2009

LunchablesImage by elmada via Flickr
Just after high school, I once worked for a hotel chain. Not the most glorious job, but it was something. You get to see all sorts of human behavior, good and bad, when you work somewhere that people typically hold in their minds as a temporary residence. I wish I could remember the name of the nice, older lady who always smelled of Jessica McClintock perfume as she was such a delight to chat with.

On the other hand, I certainly won't miss the party-loving folks who seemed to assume that you just love to pick up after them because hey - you're getting paid to do it, right? (Based on the amounts of mess, sometimes and often you can answer that: WRONG.)

After one particularly large, but thankfully not too rowdy, group left, we found mountains of leftover "food." The typical party faire; there were bags of Doritos, 2-litre bottles of pop in many varieties, pizza boxes, and so forth. There was something a little extra in this case, too: A huge stack of Lunchables. You know what I'm talking about - those prepared lunch snack packs that are marketed to busy parents of schoolage children. They contain an amazing variety of non-food food nowadays, but back when this happened it was mostly limited to lunch meat, cheese, jello, crackers, and so forth.

Usually when a guest left something important, or if they left as much unopened food as they did this time, they would be back soon to claim it, so we did what we usually did: We set it in a back room and forgot about it.

All summer.

I didn't mention that this room had some direct sunlight and no air-conditioning, either. Now, if we're talking unopened bottles of pop or bags of chips, you're pretty sure of what's going to happen when you leave them for three months in an extremely hot room. The pop will still be fine, probably... the chips will be stale. But we also put the entire stack of Lunchables in there, and when I realized they were still there, I was a bit afraid to look at them. I mean... the meat... the cheese...

I quite expected to find the little plastic-sealed packages to be swollen and green inside or something. But it wasn't gross at all - and for that reason, it's more disgusting than it would have been otherwise. The "meat" inside the packages looked perfectly normal. So did the "cheese." And the Jell-O was still firm.

I admit before that time I had eaten a package or two of Lunchables when convenience called, but I swear to this day I have never even been tempted ever since. If that "food" (as they pretend it is) can survive a situation that should turn regular produce into slimy puddles, it doesn't belong anywhere near your body.

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Rosy The Onion December 2, 2009 at 11:46 AM  

That is nasty. I used to work in a hotel too. An extended stay hotel.We did close to the same thing with some lean cuisine frozen dinners. It was in the boiler room, for a week in the hot Florida weather. The houseman opened one up as a dare. It looked like some one just microwaved it. Never Again! I have never ate another frozen meal.

psychiclunch December 3, 2009 at 10:31 AM  

It's too bad people everywhere can't all have these same kinds of experiences, so that we could all just stop buying the junk!

Anonymous,  December 7, 2009 at 10:28 AM  

Ew. Can you imagine your body trying to break down that stuff for fuel when even those conditions can't get it to happen? It's like cruel and unusual punishment for your digestive system.

Anonymous,  December 7, 2009 at 12:19 PM  

I am so grossed out right now! Just way too grossed out...

kristyreal December 7, 2009 at 1:33 PM  

It reminds me of a story about Walmart ground beef. Back when I used to buy meat from the grocery store, I bought some that was so perfectly pink and in date, but when I took it out to cook it the smell was overwhelming. It was so hurt my brain to smell that putrid smell coming off that beautiful looking meat - that was how I found out they were using carbon monoxide to keep the meat pink. I vowed to buy meat at other stores from them on - and that was before I knew that the citric acid soaked pad beneath it was killing me because of a corn allergy.

Dan Overlander,  December 10, 2009 at 9:05 PM  

Sorry I haven't gotten back to anyone here - I've been working every day on the commenting system for the past few days. In fact, I know that everyone in the list will probably NOT receive word that there's been a reply. I'm using "JS-Kit" for commenting now and hopefully people will like it.

kc - I didn't know that they loaded the pads with citric acid. There are all sorts of little tricks packagers like to use, hmm? Not to mention manufacturers and producers. It just goes to show how far people will go to sell, sell, sell... :(

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About Psychic Lunch

Psychic Lunch was founded in 2009 by a nerd and father who wants people to be healthy. The information on this site is researched, but should be considered opinion; that is, you should always do your own research and come to your own conclusions about what is and what is not healthy. Products endorsed on this site are actually believed in and used by the author.


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