Feast Upon the Cringe of Our Most Embarrassing Food Moments

We stand in solidarity with the Twitter user who accidentally ate another man's chicken.

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Shame is unavoidable. While some among us might claim to have none, there is still that one lingering memory that you’ll never clear from your mind, that one embarrassing moment that, whether you consciously realize or not, is eating away at you from the inside. And what’s the best way to deal with the shame? For one unfortunate person this week, it was tweeting about it.

After @Sonic_Screwup shared their story of mistakenly taking a man’s chicken thinking he was handing out free samples, the internet joined in to not dunk or shame the tweeter, but to share their own food-related embarrassing moments. “That’s nothing,many of the replies begin, before launching into tales of cringe.

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So, in solidarity, we thought we too would dig into the recesses of our mind, as a reminder that any of this could happen to you, too. Share your own food shame in the comments, and maybe together we can all heal.


Beware of melting ice cream bars

The best part of a hot, sticky summer day is unwrapping an ice cream bar to beat the heat. The worst part is when the bees grow wise to you. I was enjoying a frozen slice of cheesecake on a stick one August at an outdoor festival; I’d already nibbled off the outer chocolate shell and was trying to catch drips as the exposed edges of the bar rapidly melted. At that moment, one persistent bee arrived to ruin my good time.

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I swatted my empty hand at the bee; undeterred, it went to land directly on my cheesecake. I waved the ice cream bar around frantically, jerking my arm behind me to whip the bee off. In the process, I smeared my sticky, half-eaten treat all down some poor passerby’s hand, arm, and lapel. The dapper suit-clad retiree looked mostly shocked at first, but I could see the annoyance and anger settling into his face as people around us stared—so I handed him a wad of napkins, squeaked “ohmygodimsosorrytherewasabee,” and booked it. The bee feasted upon my cheesecake as I chucked it in the trash. —Marnie Shure, managing editor

Like Icarus, I flew too close to the sun

My junior high was actually a junior high/high school hybrid, so students of all ages ate lunch together. To me, this represented the height of maturity. I imagined myself dining among sexy sophomores, tipping a hypothetical bowler hat in their direction and peering jovially onto their lunch trays. “Ah, the tuna tartare!” I’d crow. “An excellent choice. Chin-chin, fellow grown-up!”

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The reality was a lot less glamorous. On my first day of sixth grade, I stumbled into the cafeteria sporting a pair of haphazard pigtails. The sexy sophomores glared at me with disdain as I selected a lunch tray and crept toward the buffet-style food area. I scanned the burrito bar and the nearby array of grayish cold cuts and frowned at the selection. Fruit snacks? Peanut butter sandwiches? This was kid stuff. Where was my tuna tartare?

Then, I saw it: On the far edge of the cafeteria, I spied a buffet line replete with fresh salad greens, tantalizing baked ziti, and cherry cobbler. Now, that was grown-up food. I hustled to the buffet and piled ziti and cobbler on my tray. Just as I was reaching for some mandarin oranges—a very adult citrus side dish—a frantic lunch lady hustled out of the kitchen and stared at me.

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“What do you think you’re doing?” she bellowed. “That food is for the teachers!”

I looked at her with horror, dropped my tray on the buffet table, and backed away slowly with my hands in the air. As I made my escape, I noticed the long line of amused teachers that had amassed behind me. At that point, our 25-minute lunch period was probably half over. I think I ate a few fruit snacks and called it a day. —Lillian Stone, staff writer

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Slap it and snap it

pizza on floor
Wah-wah
Photo: Dennis Lee
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When I was a full-time pizzamaker, I worked in an open kitchen, which had its charms and its pitfalls. One of its drawbacks was that customers could watch our every mistake.

One tool I used frequently in that kitchen was a very long pizza turning peel, roughly four feet long?. As you can imagine, something that’s essentially a pole with a plate on the end can be awkward to use if you move around too much. Once a pizza was done baking off in the wood-fired oven, we’d have to turn and place it on a tray for service, but every so often, one of those pizzas would slide off the peel and fall to the floor.

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It would make this unmistakeable slapping noise when it hit the ground, and more often than not, it’d land face-down due to physics (toppings are heavy!). While wasting product isn’t so funny, failure is, and I began documenting every dropped pizza I could, posting them to Instagram. Eventually my coworkers started finding it as funny as I did, and then our customers. I’ll always be known as the “guy who dropped pizzas.” Weirdly, that running joke seemed to get people through the door, so my embarrassment had some value, at least. —Dennis Lee, staff writer

Don’t cry over spilled root beer

When I was 19, I was a car hop at a drive-in diner for the summer. No, there were no roller skates, but that didn’t make the job any less precarious. I spent my shifts balancing multiple thick glass mugs of root beer amid flimsy cardboard boats filled with hot dogs and fries atop what can best be described as a souped-up cafeteria tray. Much emphasis was put on aesthetics: We all wore white sneakers with bobby socks, long poodle skirts, scarves in our hair, and were strongly encouraged to carry trays with one hand for an “authentic car hop look.”

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One ill-fated day, I brought a meal out to one of the nicest cars I’d ever seen and proceeded to set the tray not in the car window, as required, but inside the car. The sloshing root beer mugs slid straight off the tray, all over not only the driver’s pressed pants but the spotless interior of their hot rod. Though I was too embarrassed to make eye contact, I can only hope that as the heavy mugs clanked into their lap and ice cold root beer dripped into their shoes they were admiring my authentic car hop look. —Brianna Wellen, associate editor