11 Productivity-Killing Lunches You Should Never Bring To The Office

No, this fly is not for lunch. But it could show up in the office because of your lunch.

Fish

It doesn't matter if it's canned tuna fish, fresh salmon, or freeze-dried fish sticks. If you want to eat fish for lunch get it out of the office.

Eggs and Cheese

What's better than a lunch of hard-boiled eggs and a soft, steaming block of Vieux-Boulogne cheese? Pretty much anything.

Lamb over rice

We love the corner halal stand as much as the next guy. But we wouldn't even think about bringing that Styrofoam stink bomb into the office.

A whole Lobster

Two things to note if you are having this for lunch: 1. You might just be a jerk. 2. We can still smell it, and hear you eat it. In fact, we're probably watching you right now.

Anything alive

If we need to explain this one to you, then you likely don't have a job anyway.

Microwave popcorn

Microwave popcorn is delicious, it stinks, and it's gross. If somebody makes popcorn in the office, we will eat it. There's no way around it. Then we'll feel gross.

Old vegetables

Just because it's broccoli doesn't mean it's not offensive.

Curry

Yes, curry is amazing. So if you must eat it, we understand. Jus please eat it in the park, clean yourself up in the bathroom, and then return to your desk. We're begging here.

Bacon

When bacon is yours, it's the best. When it's not, well.

Kimchi

Traditional kimchi is buried underground for months to ferment. It should stay there.

Surströmming

Don't know what this is? Good. Let's keep it that way.

11 Distractingly Stinky, Productivity-Killing Lunches You Should Never Bring To The Office

If it was up to us, these foods would be banned from workplaces. Forever. And ever.

There are rules to follow when you eat lunch in an office.

Or at least there should be--which is why we've put together the below list of foods we'd like to ban, henceforth, from offices everywhere.

Okay, yes, everybody gets hungry, but you've also got to be considerate of the fact that other people exist, and that by bringing something into the office that smells worse than a porta potty on a hot summer day, you can seriously damage workplace productivity.

Work should be a sanctuary, a happy space where tuna salad has no place.

So please, whatever you do, just don't eat these things at work:

Fish

It doesn't matter if it's canned tuna fish, fresh salmon, or freeze-dried fish sticks. If you want to eat fish for lunch get it out of the office.

When was the last time you heard "Wow, that fish* really smells great!" Yeah, we thought so.

*Sushi is acceptable.

Eggs and Cheese

What's better than a lunch of hard-boiled eggs and a soft, steaming block of Vieux-Boulogne cheese? Pretty much anything.

Lamb over rice

We love the corner halal stand as much as the next guy. But we wouldn't even think about bringing that Styrofoam stink bomb into the office. And you shouldn't, either.

A whole Lobster

If you can afford to eat a whole lobster at work, you probably have your own office and work on Wall Street. So perhaps you think it's okay, because you have your own office. But you're wrong.

Furthermore:

1. You might just be a jerk.

2. We can still smell it, and hear you eat it. In fact, we're probably watching you right now.

Anything alive

If we need to explain this one to you, then you likely don't have a job anyway. So.

Microwave popcorn

This is complicated--and not technically lunch in and of itself. But stick with us--like butter on your innards. Microwave popcorn is delicious, it stinks, and it's gross. If somebody makes popcorn in the office, we will eat it. There's no way around it. Then we'll feel gross, and then we'll think about popcorn for the rest of the day, because that's how long the smell sticks around.

Old vegetables

Fresh veggies are great! Old, dying, back-of-the-fridge veggies, not so much. Just because it's broccoli doesn't mean it's not offensive.

Curry

We have nothing against Indian food, or any curry for that matter. It's just really stinky. Go eat it in the park, clean yourself up in the bathroom, and then return to your desk. We're begging here.

Bacon

Be like Ron Swanson and put a picture of bacon on your wall. For all that we care, you can worship the stuff. Just don't eat it inside.

Kimchi, or anything fermented

Traditional kimchi is buried underground for months to ferment. It should stay there. Your store-bought brand probably isn't as bad, but it still stinks, and has no place in your cubicle.

And if kimchi isn't offensive enough for you, there's always the delicacies of Hákarl and Surströmming.

(Warning: strong language)

So there you have it. Our highly scientific list of the most offensive things you should never eat at work.

Surely, we aren't the only ones to have considered this important issue, so if we forgot something, tell us all about it in the comments! Just don't bring it to work.

[Image: Flickr user Ben Fredericson]

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48 Comments

  • Jay Kim

    I wouldn't say the food smell was counterproductive so much as having ignorant employees with boring palates.

  • omaryak

    Good offices have well-ventilated kitchens that prevent the smell from leaving the area. This advice makes sense when there is no ventilation, because when people have their own separately ventilated areas, there should be no issue except for the stinkiest of foods (where's garlic on this list?).

  • LCC

    The author is a bit of a racist- he's basically saying don't eat ethnic food. His problem, not ours.

    Grow up dude.

  • grosgrognon

    This piece is obnoxious and racist (look at all the "stinky" ethnic cuisine lol /ugh) as well as nonsensical (who would purposely bring "old vegetables" to eat in the office?).

  • shotgunconcepts

    The whole office was eating lobster today. I just laughed at them because I had read this informative article.

  • Revo Luzione

    Miles: pound sand, you food nazi.

    I'm going to make a giant egg, cheese & broccoli omelette, with a massive slab of bacon, and a half a jar of kimchi.

    And I"m going to eat it in a public lunch room (preferably somewhere I don't even work) and I"m going to tell everyone my name is Miles Korhman. 

  • Big Mike

    Yeah, I always respond to blog posts with identity theft too. Oh wait no, I dislike prison. 

  • Lu

    I actually find this to be a great tidbit of office wisdom and I commend the author for writing about something that everyone easily disregards. If you've ever worked in a small office or sat at a desk next to an office kitchen, the smell of some food can be absolutely nauseating, even to the point of being disruptive to concentration and workflow. On the other end of the spectrum, I wanted to address employees also eating any food that smells strong period - such as intoxicating, garlicky, mouthwatering, bacon-laden, fried deliciousness, etc right next to that empty-stomached coworker who was just informed they had to work through lunch to meet a deadline. The bigger picture here is why all of us just need to stop everything, and exit the building, if even for 20 minutes to scarf down our fish and lamb korma topped with crispy fried garlic and kimchee whilst we feel the fresh air upon us.

  • ZtotheP

    This list is a bit racist, have you considered that many of these foods are ethnic and important to some cultures?

  • Big Mike

    Silly thing to say. All foods have an "ethnic" origin, in that they were first discovered by some person of some ethnicity. 
    Have you considered that all cars are driven by humans? Have you considered the only species that can see are those ones with eyes? You can find a meaningless pattern in anything mate, and yes your one is based on race. 

  • MadisonMccoy

    loved the article and the mix of comments are even funnier!!!  Thanks for breaking up a boring afternoon.   BTW,  Someone cooked Salmon in the microwave just today and it smelled for hours.  .

  • Indiangrass13

    Until this article, I read Fast Co. daily, but this will change my reading habits.

    This is a design magazine about creativity, creative people and innovation. Obviously the author of this article lacks all of the above, including, most obviously - any appreciation of food - a subject he should clearly stay away from. There are things more gross than eggs, popcorn and oh, yes, curry. If he had researched / talked to his curry cooking friends, he'd have known how little he really knows about curry or food for that matter.

    Practice what you preach: 'Dont Speak'.... esp. to me, ever.

  • T @ me

    Really? This is the best article that could be found to publish?  Reads like a high school student's creative writing project.....

  • Big Mike

    Good one Mr Cough. Remind me to blow cigarette smoke into your eyes and piss on your head when we meet, and tell you to stay home if you find it offensive. 

  • Jark Prongo

    I'm sure the author is a nice guy, but writing an article essentially complaining about food that doesn't match his palate makes him come across like one of those typical drab, dull, and awful office slags that everyone hates to be stuck sitting beside.

  • Big Mike

    I think he's got a good point. If it reeks or is in any way offensive, I don't want to smell or see it in my place of business, nor does my employer because it's a distraction that impairs productivity. We call that common sense and basic courtesy.

    I'd much rather sit next to Mr Kohrman than either of you folks slurping down live eels at your desk.