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:


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.


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.


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.


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]


About the author

Former Editorial Assistant Miles Kohrman helped run Fast Company's homepage and completed miscellaneous tasks around the newsroom. He is a 2013 graduate of The New School.