The Five Second Rule

According to lore and legend, dropped food that spends less than five seconds on the floor – the so-called five-second rule – is still safe to eat because rogue bacteria need more time to taint it.

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There are googles of opinions, and even legitimate scientific studies, but there still remains no consensus on how safe it is to eat dropped food.  More information from Research and Naysayers.  Feel free to skip it and head straight to ….

The Beefs.

Let’s not over complicate this … The “5 second” Rule is not only a legitimate rule of eating etiquette, but a necessity of life for many.   If you have kids, you know what I’m talking about.   If you threw away everything that hit the floor, you might as well push your grocery cart right out the store and straight to the nearest garbage canister.  

And this rule doesn’t only apply to homes with kids, but likely to anyone who’s penny conscious, pocket poor, or just plain hungry !  A college dorm comes to mind.  Although, if I recall my days back in college, it was more like the “5 day” rule.  And as I think more about it, it wasn’t so much about time, but instincts.  A simple primal test of the senses, albeit not a lot of common sense.   Basically, if you could identify it, and it didn’t offend the olfactory, it was worth further exploration. 

Like many rules, the “5 second” rule has many incarnations, mostly based on the circumstances.  But there are some basic fundamentals to the rule that don’t change, and require immediate reaction when the goods hit the floor.  After much pain and suffering, mostly on your part for having to read this, I present the “The Five W’s in Five Seconds” ….

Who else has their beads on it ?  Remember this is a competition, not an exhibition.  No points for style, just get after it.  Of course, always process all five W’s before you leap. 

Where is the drop point ?   Is it your kitchen floor, at a restaurant, at a wedding reception ?  This is obviously important information to gauge the level of embarrassment if spotted in the act.  Or worse, making a complete fool of yourself in public nose diving for runaway Marciano cherry. 

What is it and will it roll ?   While bouncing can lead to quick recovery, rolling can often lead to disaster.  See Why

Why is it always the last one ?   No time to think of this, but it inevitably crosses your mind … especially if it just rolled under the refrigerator. 

When it’s time to concede a loss ?   If there are any injuries, most importantly yours, then its time to let this one go.  Wallow shortly in your defeat, and settle on something else to satisfy your hunger.  Hopefully on reflection, your disgrace and humiliation will benefit you in future recoveries.

Stevo 

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6 comments so far

  1. Johnny on

    I can’t think of any food, snack or other wise that is so indispensable and tasteful beyond human taste buds that warrants picking it up from any place other than the table to eat. If there is please publish it so we can all enjoy the taste of a life time.

    Johnny

  2. Cecil Jones on

    You talk about the 5 second rule like it’s a secret sauce or special seasoning at KFC. I don’t know just how rich or poor your family was, but my Mother told me that we would get “Trench Mouth” if we at anything off the floor. If popcorn dropped in my date’s lap, I wouldn’t eat it. If somebody sneezed in my potatoes, I was done. Are things so bad in America that we can’t trust our Mamas? Is America now a thrid world nation to the point that we time how long it takes for our ice cream to get unedible chocholate sprinkles? No, I will trust my Mama and leave the timeclocks to Mo Rocca and Stevo. Well almost. If my wife drops something in her lap, I might go get it. The 5 second rule and a good hot shower are two different things.

  3. Jerry Novack on

    The “five second rule” is good only if the floor is clean. Personally I’d rather not, maybe for two seconds, if that. I cannot remember the name of the college basketball coach who accidentally spit his gum onto the floor and put it back in his mouth on national television. (It happened about a year ago). That was funny and I remember the PTI guys were having a field day with this. One tip: Don’t be doing the “five second rule” in front of the ladies. Not a good idea.

  4. Stevo on

    I remember that incident as well. I had to look it up. It was Thad Matta, coach of the buckeye’s.

    “Ohio State coach Thad Matta sent his chewing gum flying onto the court during one of his theatrical outbursts. Then he scooped up the gum and put it back in his mouth.
    (It seems the Big Ten has the five-second rule, too.)”

    Another funny comment from that incident … “Now Matta has to win the national championship. That’s pretty much the only way his 2006-07 season will be remembered for anything other than gum-gate. ”

    Stevo

  5. paperdreamer on

    I am a big supporter of the 5 second rule. Only dry matter and well-known floors including.

    Not that I’d take it off public ground (common sense!) but a little dirt from your own home isn’t going to kill you. This level of germophobia is not really that warranted and might actually make you less resistant to proliferation of more malignant bacteria into your system.

  6. Saintmychal on

    Remember the Seinfeld episode where George takes a discarded twinkie thrown away in basket and takes a bite. He and Jerry were tying to debate what constituted officially thrown away trash. Was it in the basket or out ? Was it protruding enough to be seen or was it still or partially considered eaten or edible ? That was the same episode where george got caught by his girlfriend’s mother taking it out of the trash. Then later in the episode he had this habit of taking his shirt off when in the bathroom. After he convinces his girlfriends mother that he didn’t eat trash, hes at a party at her mothers house and goes to the bathroom, hangs his shirt, then forgets to put it back on and comes out bare chested in a room full of people.


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