Pulp Charity: Holiday Food Drive Horror Stories

Categories: Holidays, Whimsy
sardines.jpgHoliday giving is all around us now. If you're not already the generous type, you're being guilted into it by a bell-ringing Santa, or Will Smith, or even Wal-Mart.

If you think you can get away with tossing another can of creamed spinach into the bin -- the one in your kitchen cabinet, back where you found the dusty bamboo shoots last year -- well, you're right. But that doesn't mean you should feel good about it.

Talk to the people who actually hand out the food, and it'll take a lot more to impress them than an old can of ranch style beans.

There are plenty of good ways to give this holiday season (including at a local virtual food drive), but you know the donation misfires are a lot funnier. After the jump, our list of the 10 worst foods collected in Texas food drives.

Thanks to Amanda O'Neal at the North Texas Food Bank, Hyta Folsom at the West Texas Food Bank, Kerri Qunell at the Capital Area Food Bank in Austin, and the Southeast Texas Food Bank's Emelie Irving for sharing their horror stories.


10. Four gallons of cake icing

Not necessarily a bad choice -- just impractical. And if you're anything like me, once you start scooping out icing with a spoon (alright, your fingers), you can't stop until the whole thing's gone.

fallingdown.jpg9. Charcoal

Maybe you're just trying to help someone fire up the grill, but you get the Christmas significance here, right? What are you, some kind of vigilante Santa Claus?

8. MRE's

The food bank in Beaumont helped hand these out after Huricane Ike, so Emelie Irving says she was surprised to see some of them coming back in donation bins. Nice to know regifting is alive and well in the charity circles.

colt_45.jpg7. 40's of malt liquor

Again, not a horrible choice -- just inappropriate. Plus, you're missing a great "pairing off" opportunity here. I recall one magical Christmas when King Cobra went down nicely with half my nephew's gingerbread house.

6. German cough syrup

Really, let's make this a rule right now. No drugs in the food bins, OK? "The entire label was in German," says Kerri Qunell in Austin, who, luckily, had six years of German under her belt, and was the only one around who could read the bottle.

5. Homemade pickled eggs

Shouldn't be a shock to anyone -- this one also comes from Austin. Qunell says the jar came totally unmarked. I knew a guy who kept a jar of these in his truck to snack on in the winter -- but don't count on anybody else to share your gustatory peccadillos, yeah? Anyway, Qunell says they don't take anything without a label.

4. Motor oil

Think you're doing the world a favor by not dumping this down the drain? Well, NOT IF YOU DONATE IT TO A FOOD BANK. Good lord, what the hell is wrong with you?

emu.jpg3. Raw emu meat and ostrich eggs

These were reported from West Texas, where some see the holidays as a chance to take pot-shots at the flightless birds. ("Sorry boy, we were going to eat the reindeer this year, but he flew away...") Hyta Folsom out in Odessa says they're actually happy to take meat donations, as long as it's been processed.

Not all food banks see eye to eye here. In Beaumont, Irving says a rancid smell in the food cages once led the staff to a (formerly) fresh chicken donated weeks earlier. "It went south on us pretty fast," Irving says, encouraging folks in East Texas to avoid giving fresh meat. "Once you get burned by a rotten chicken, you don't want to again."

cherrylube.jpg2. Personal lubricant, cherry-flavored

Not quite sure how you're supposed to use this in the kitchen. (Savage Love Christmas special, anyone?) Unless you've always wondered about that hint of fruity flavor in grandma's holiday sliders.

1. Box of cucumbers, with cash and drugs

Food drive bins, apparently, not the best place to ditch the evidence. Dallas, be proud this one was collected here. We tried pressing O'Neal at the NTFB for details, but were told she couldn't give specifics -- ongoing police investigation and all. Once again, let's all make this holiday pledge: no drugs in the food bins.   --Patrick Michels
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