Let me tell you about my day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baked Potato Outrage and the Ethics of Free Condiments

Tragedy to end all tragedies--I went to Fuddrucker's no less than 30 minutes ago to get a baked potato. I was so excited about it. I've been on kind of a baked potato kick lately, mostly satisfying my cravings by going through the Wendy's drive-thru. (They're not great, but they are potato-y, and that's really all I'm after) So, in doing a little research, I discovered that Fuddrucker's sells baked potatoes, with bacon, cheese, etc. Only they don't. Yeah, not really. When I asked about a baked potato, I was met with blank stares. Fine. That's fine.

Anyway, I decided to make the best of it and get a burger and potato wedges. They have this "dress your own" principle in place there, which I rather enjoy. My burger goes like this: mayo, brown mustard, ketchup, lettuce, single slice of tomato, single ring of purple onion, and about five pounds of pickle slices. They even have that ever-so-delicious/revolting liquid cheese dispenser. So, I got one little container of liquid cheese for my fries. Then, as I was debating whether it was enough, it occurred to me to use the pico de gallo on the toppings bar to make a half-assed queso with the liquid cheese. My friends, I stand here today to tell you that I have had better queso, but not made from accoutrements on a toppings bar.

So, it came out quite good. I was pleased, in general. Now, here's the conundrum: I would like to make more toppings-bar queso some day in the future. And I know that it's a big no-no to just go into Fuddrucker's, not purchase anything, and fix myself a little plastic container of queso. What if, the next time I went in to get lunch, I just made an extra container of queso and kept it in my fridge? Does that violate the ethics of condiment offerings?

Here's another--the place near my office that has good fries doesn't have ketchup. I did once (gulp) just walk into McDonald's and grab some ketchup to eat with the fries purchased elsewhere. I still feel guilty about this. But what if I grabbed a handful of packets the next time I got some McDonald's (far too frequent), knowing I wasn't going to use them for that meal? I just don't know. I mean, I wouldn't walk into a regular restaurant, grab a glass of water, drink it, and walk out. Where do I draw the line?


Swistle said...

Oh happy day, a condiments ethics question! I love this kind of thing.

Here has been my decision on the topic: if I'm ordering at that place, and if the amount of condiment I'm taking is reasonable for the food I've ordered (definition of "reasonable": an employee, seeing me do it, would not blink), then it's okay even if the amount of condiment I'm taking is more than I actually DO want to use for the food I've ordered. I'm not saying it's ethically pure, just that it's within my own willingness to be on shaky ethical ground.

So, like, I love Taco Bell taco sauce. If I grab a handful of them with my lunch, even though I know I only need a few packets, I consider that okay---EVEN THOUGH I AM KNOWINGLY STEALING CONDIMENTS. But I wouldn't load multiple handfuls into my purse.

I will even push it farther: if I'm ordering at Burger King, I will take Splenda packets even though I'm not eating anything with Splenda on it, and then I will take the packets home and use them in my coffee. My reasoning is that if an employee saw me taking the packets they wouldn't blink (some people put Splenda on salads or in diet soda), so it still falls within the "reasonable" range even though I'm not using ANY of it on my meal. But again, I wouldn't take a huge handful, it has to pass the "employee blinking" test.

BUT! If I'm in the Food Court and I order from one place, I won't go get ketchup or a straw or salt or a spoon from another place.

mothergoosemouse said...

I'm entertained by this post because I was scolded, more than once, by cashiers at the Pentagon cafeteria for taking extra plastic silverware.

Swistle, I will send you the extra Taco Bell packets that I find crammed into the corners of our kitchen cabinets.

Snoopyfan said...

Swistle-Yes on the Taco Bell taco sauce! Also, Arby sauce mmmmmmmmm.

leashah said...

I do this at Wendy's, requesting honey mustard sauce, whether I plan to use it or not. Because I like it on all sorts of Non-wendy's foods.

I think it's fine as long as you've purchased *something* there, at that time, and the amount is "reasonable".

Buttercup said...

Thanks, everyone, for your feedback. In the end, I decided I will continue to pilfer napkins and ketchup from McDonald's, as long as it is in the course of me ordering food there. I mean, THEY don't know that I don't need 85 napkins for my parfait, right? I also decided that maybe the queso is too perishable to be worth saving, and it will have to be a special treat.