Punch Drunk: Why Do Disgusting Food Finds Serve Up the Clicks? 


Last week in Farmington, Utah, a Mormon woman named Troy Walker made an odd discovery while cooking string beans for older members of her congregation. Mrs. Walker happened to stumble upon the severed head of a snake mixed in with the beans.

Needless to say, this was one of the most exciting things to happen in Farmington in some time. Imagine if they hadn’t found that snake head and one of the elderly parishioners saw it? It would’ve given sweet old Bertie O’Mallory a heart attack!

Chris Smith, who was cooking with Mrs. Walker, told the Associated Press that it was a very small snake head, and that after the discovery, they threw out several other large pots of string beans that also were cooking.

“Who knows where the other parts of that snake were?” Smith told the AP.

You’re right, Chris. Who knows indeed? The whole kitchen is tainted now. Meanwhile, the once proud canned beans department of Western Family Foods is left searching for answers. And overlooked in all this? Where will the elderly get their fiber intake now? Where?!

This of course isn’t the first time that the AP and almost every other news outlet have rushed to cover this type of story. Just about every week some flabbergasted “area man” or “local woman” is finding a rodent in their lasagna or a fish eyeball in their corn niblets.

At the beginning of February, an Australian woman found a live Huntmans spider in a bag of fresh Italian-style salad that she’d purchased from Woolworths.

The Aussie grocery chain responded on Facebook that its officials were taking the incident very seriously and that she should contact them. Meaning this woman took a picture of the spider in the bag and put it on Facebook before contacting anyone or doing anything.

That picture has since been viewed more than 3 million times.

Another recent incident in Oregon involved a mouse being found in a Subway sandwich.

“I got my drink, turned around and they were in shock like something happened. There was a mouse in there. It was gross,” Matt Jones told KGW-TV in Portland. “It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s also the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen.”

Well at least he maintained a sense of humor about it. In addition to providing the laughs, Subway generously refunded to Mr. Jones the entire price of the sub. What a fine corporation that Subway. Good people over there. Well, most of them.

Not surprisingly, there are hundreds of other “mouse found in sandwich”-type stories, but because some people eat their lunch while reading Style, I’ll spare you.

Sadly, you can’t open the websites of most local television news outlets without coming across a story about an errant hoagie mouse or someone finding a deep-fried chicken’s head in their chicken nuggets, which allegedly did happen. Is that news? I suppose. I’ll click on it for the picture, which is how these sites bait us.

You have to see this! You won’t believe it! Your jaw will drop!

You’re correct, I do need to see this. No argument there. I’ll click on the story because I want to know what it is that I won’t believe. But deep-fried chicken head or not, what I won’t do is stop eating chicken nuggets. No sir.

What is our obsession with these stories? A soggy pinkie in a Whopper can instantly net a hundred-thousand shares, yet we have trouble gaining traction when attempting to get the word out about a charity fundraiser. It could be a human pinkie, a monkey pinkie, a pinkie toe — it doesn’t matter! Society, figuratively and literally eats it up. Will it take me putting a severed body part into my Chipotle burrito to get people to care about our next fundraiser? Will people even blink if they find the tip of a toe in a Chipotle burrito? Or is something like that par for the Chipotle course now?

Maybe we need to re-examine our news consumption habits, while also pre-examining what we actually consume.

Will a little debris in someone’s food change our lives? Will we stop eating at that establishment? Does this affect me other than the two minutes I’ve wasted clicking on the link and reading the story? No, no and no. Unless that monkey pinkie goes into my mouth, I’ll remain unaffected.

I mean, you never hear anything about a green bean being found in a can of snake heads. Or a piece of lettuce that was discovered in a bag of live spiders.

Now those are real news stories! S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at jackgoesforth.



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