Fridges are always a point of contention in any workplace. Home to stolen leftovers, freely available condiments and passive-aggressive notes, this ice-cold treasure trove has the ability to make anyone’s blood boil.
According to Market Watch, 3 in 4 employees have had their food stolen from the work fridge, while nearly 1 in 3 people admitted to doing the stealing themselves. Despite the professional environment, where everyone is told to look and be their best, the lure of the office fridge always has people being the most inconsiderate versions of themselves.
Despite a slew of articles on workplace fridge etiquette, rules to impose to stop thievery, moldy, and bad smells, and basic decency, nothing seems to work. People just love pinching lunches. And while some people leave notes repenting for their crimes, not everyone is remorseful enough to admit to it.
We may not have any useful hacks to keep you from experiencing these fridge related woes, because as one woman found out, no amount of labeling is going to save your Coffee-Mate. But we did stumble across some of the most bizarre work fridge stories on the internet, and we had to share them with you.
1. Cottage Cheese Anniversary
Most office refrigerators are kept on a cleaning schedule to prevent weird growths and ghastly smells. At one office, one little tub of pineapple cottage cheese somehow persevered and lived in the back of the fridge for seven years. Sharing seven years worth of selfies with the tub of cheese, Redditor jbbones shocked everyone.
Some people lamented that the tub of cheese lasted longer at a job than any of them ever have.
One commenter wrote, “a container of cottage cheese lasted longer than both of my marriages combined.”
2. The Best Passive Aggressive Notes
After a few lunches had gone missing, one person at this office decided to print out a very pointed message to stick inside the fridge. “Strange new trend at the office,” the meme read. “People putting names on food in the company fridge. Today I had a tuna sandwich named Kevin.”
Other people admitted they had the same meme posted in their work kitchens.
But unfortunately, it hasn’t kept anyone from dipping into their co worker’s Tupperware containers.
After someone’s grapefruit kept turning up missing, they decided to do some crafty meme-creation of their own. While most people weren’t sympathetic to her cause, some citing that she deserved it because she took up so much room with a box of fruit cups, it was clear that she was fed up.
But do passive-aggressive notes work?
Probably not, but it’s the only way to retaliate in the workplace, without getting in trouble.
When someone’s orange juice disappeared from the office fridge, they were so overwhelmed with anger they typed up an impassioned note and slapped it on the door. Hoping to shame the offender or at least inundating them with profound guilt, they wrote, “I hope you were able to start out your day with it as well as I was hoping to start out my day.”
They got more than they bargained for.
While no one replaced the orange juice in question, the thief replied writing on the note, “Thanks it was nice!” So rude.
3. Breast Milk-stake
Is all milk in the work fridge communal? Probably not. And one person found out the hard way. “I started fixing up my daily post-lunch cup of joe when I opened the staff fridge. To my horror there was no more dairy,” one Redditor wrote. “After shuffling around food for 30 seconds or so… I saw a bottle filled with some kind of milk, so without any hesitation, I grabbed the bottle and loaded my coffee cup. Despite the coffee tasting a hint more sweet, I thought nothing of it.”
It turned out that wasn’t the kind of store-bought milk this coffee drinker had hoped for.
“Fifteen minutes later, Karen proceeded to go on a witch hunt around the office, yelling “who the f*** drank my breast milk?” Yikes!
4. Socialist Refrigerator
Some people are still under the impression that labels will keep food thieves off their gourmet leftovers, while others impose a socialist office fridge ecosystem. We’re guessing neither of them works. But at this Canadian office, they tried to spook people into marking their territory.
This makes us wonder if most office-workers view fridges as socialist territories.
Whether marked or unmarked, if you’re lunch is in the fridge chances are it’s not going to last.
5. Milk Lockdown
There have been enough milk mixups to put us off dairy entirely but for some offices, this stuff is veritable white gold. Which is why it must be locked up and hidden away… at the back of the fridge. This police station in the UK caused a stir on Twitter when a photo of their mini-fridge featuring chained up gallons of milk made its way online.
If cops are committing fridge-related crimes, what hope do the rest of us have?
One Twitter user already poked a hole in this devious solution. “You know, you can make a small hole in the base of the bottle using just a biro…” Now everyone does, including milk thieves around the world.
6. When Revenge Goes Too Far
After writing their fair share of passive-aggressive notes, some people graduate out of this and instead turn to full-blown revenge. One Redditor admitted, after growing tired of having their delicious lunches stolen they decided to lace their meals with ghost chili peppers; one of the hottest chilis in the world.
It all started with their co-worker ending up at the doctor’s office with stomach pains.
After a meeting with HR, the offender admitted to stealing the lunch from the fridge but tried to get the Redditor fired for “poisoning” their meal. They told HR that”liking spicy food shouldn’t stop me from having it at work… and my manager agreed it was on the person who took my lunch without knowing how spicy it was.” While this person’s lunch was indefinitely safe, a few weeks later, when lunches began going missing again, the offender was fired.
7. This Not Safe For Work Fridge Magnet
Where most office fridges are covered in passive-aggressive post-it notes, this one worker decided to lighten the mood with a questionable fridge magnet. But not everyone at the office was impressed. “This morning, my manager asked us who put this on our office fridge,” Mastermind1232 wrote. “No one has confessed yet…”
We’re guessing it’s whoever went on vacation to San Diego.
When it comes to fridge shenanigans, its best not to leave a bread crumb trail.
8. Sneaky Spot Of Milk
How far would you go to have a tipple to take the edge off at work? One person found this very suspicious bottle labeled with a post-it note, that read ‘whole milk’ in the work fridge. However, not everyone was convinced.
This silver Coors bottle has everyone wondering if someone was secretly drinking beer at work.
One user attested to the bottle’s multiple capabilities. “I’ve used those as coffee mugs a few times, burns your hands a little [but it’s] totally worth it to see your boss’s expression when ya nonchalantly sip on it at 7 am.”
9. Self Deprecating Thief
If you stole a bottle of water from the work fridge, would you repent? Apart from replacing the bottle and hoping you didn’t ruin your co-workers entire day with a bout of dehydration, what more is there to do, besides writing a self-effacing note on the bottle.
But was this an apology or a Scarlett letter written in black sharpie?
Was this written on the bottle by the owner to help catch a thief red-handed? Or is this a replacement, shoved into the fridge to make amends. Either way, this is too intense for a $1 feud.
10. Break Open In Case Of Emergency
Not all workdays are created equally. Some require an extra little incentive to get you through to 5 pm and one Redditor’s workplace knows all about it. “How do I know I have the coolest job in the world?” wrote stacieleigha, “See [our] office fridge.”
We’re not sure what emergency calls for a Four Loko, but we’ll take it.
On one shelf, with a little post-it attached is a Four Loko for any workers in dire need of bad decisions, an instant hangover, and memory loss.
11. Glitches In The Timeline
Have you ever thought something was one way only for everyone else to insist it never was? If that seems vague and obtuse, humor this one Redditor who insists there is something weird going on with their office fridge. One day, while going through their usual morning routine, they “saw that there was no handle on the fridge. There were still the screws at where you could attach a handle to, so I just thought someone took it out for god knows what reason.”
They asked a coworker if they knew what had happened to the handle, only to find out it was never really there.
“There was never a handle,” their coworker insisted. “I remember the handle being silver and metallic. I remember vaguely wiping it down with a paper towel one day because it was grimy.” Everyone agreed, this is a clear case of glitches in the matrix.
12. Almost Deadly Smells
Ten years ago, in San Jose California after an office worker attempted to clean out a fridge full of moldy, rotten food the smell ended up sending seven people to the hospital. Using chemicals to scrub down the putrid mess, the mix of cleaning products and rotting food was enough to cause 28 people to fall ill.
This is everyone’s worst nightmare.
Instead of posting a passive-aggressive post-it on the fridge door, just print out this story instead.
13. Watermelon Art
If passive-aggressive notes and ghost pepper revenge isn’t your cup of tea, what about turning to an ominous watermelon warning? One Reddit user shared a snap from their friend’s workplace fridge, guarded by a very cute watermelon cat with an unsettling note.
“Melon Cat is watching you!”
Work lunches have probably never been safer.
14. All Eyes On You
Crimes committed in the workplace kitchen often go unobserved. This is why many offenders getting away with it but what if the food itself could be an ally and a witness to the crimes? One Redditor opened the office fridge to see that this had already happened.
Condiments, drinks, and yogurt all had suddenly spurted a pair of eyes.
Admittedly, they were stuck on, self-adhesive, googly eyes, but if it’s just enough to keep someone from stealing your coffee creamer, we’re on board.
15. Winter Is Coming
Ice build-up in any fridge can be a bit of a pain. It requires a lot of upkeep that usually falls on the unluckiest resident, but who takes care of it in the office? In this particular workplace, it seems that no one stepped forward as tribute and it’s gotten a little out of hand.
And people have gone on using the fridge as normal…
We’re not sure if ice can explode, but we’ve never been more convinced that it’s absolutely possible.
16. A Regular Marie Condo
Is this over the top, extremely generous, or a very clever way to keep everyone’s leftovers out of this pristine fridge? “Nothing says ‘your lunch doesn’t go in here’ like filling the fridge up so nothing else can fit easily,” one Redditor wrote. While it might stop lunch thievery, are these drinks a free-for-all?
We wish our office fridge looked like this.
It’s hard to decide what is better, the lack of passive aggression in the office or the aesthetically pleasing rows of soda.
17. Unidentifiable Liquids
From rows of perfectly positioned sodas to a plastic water bottle filled with suspicious yellow liquid, we apologize for the intense shift in mood— but office fridges are truly unpredictable. “Please be apple juice,” this Redditor wrote, but lucky for them there might be a more logical explanation than the conclusion they’ve jumped to.
It’s not stored away for a future drug test, but for future sipping.
“I’m no detective, that Ribena to me is the murder weapon,” one commenter suggested. “They may have taken a sip of water from their new water bottle and poured in the strawberry syrup.” Phew!
18. Condiment Boundaries
How protective would you be of your Coffee-Mate? This one office worker clearly had enough of everyone dipping into their creamer and decided to take action. Fashioning a sandwich bag and a lock together to create an unfailing barrier to entry, for their sake we hope it worked.
Some Redditors pointed out, it’s about more than coffee creamer.
“The cost of feeding my lazy no-name coworkers really adds up,” one commenter bitterly wrote.
19. Fudged It!
Mini fridges always inspire excitement. Are they filled with sodas, desserts, or rows of beers? But at clinics, they have a whole different purpose. And one person found out the hard way, things inside the office fridge at a clinic can often get mixed up. “An acquaintance worked in a pediatric clinic in a small community where it was common for people to bring things like plates of cookies as gifts,” a Reddit user recounted.
What began as a nice gesture quickly went south.
“One day a mom brought in a Tupperware container and gave it to the girl at the front desk,” they continued. “The girl at the front desk thanked her profusely for the gift and brought it back to the break room for everyone to enjoy. She opened it and discovered that what she had mistaken for fudge was actually a stool sample for the lab. I am pretty sure no one snuck a bite out of that lunch.”
20. This woman threw out all her co-worker’s lunches.
While this sounds extreme, after you hear why, you’ll end up taking her side.
This woman’s story was posted on a subreddit dedicated to finding out whether you’re a jerk or not.
After throwing out her co-workers’ food, she felt compelled to ask the public what they thought about her lunchtime escapade.
In an AITA subreddit, Reddit user u/accountthrowmeawaybe asked fellow Redditors if they thought she was a jerk for throwing out her co-workers’ food. Your immediate answer to that question may be “Yes,” but you need to hear the entire story first. Not everything is so black-and-white, you know?
Let’s start with the facts.
She just returned to work from maternity leave.
The food-stealing began shortly after she returned back from maternity leave. (So this person is stealing from a brand-new mother!)
“I’ve just returned to work since having my Bub,” she writes. “I’m a coeliac and obviously can only eat gluten-free. I make a special lunch every day for work.”
This poor woman has celiac disease–which means she cannot eat gluten.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease (also known in the UK as coeliac disease) is a serious condition in which the body’s immune system attacks itself whenever gluten is ingested. This can cause damage to the lining of the gut–which means the body’s chances of properly absorbing nutrients is unlikely during a flare-up.
The only treatment option for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet.
Which this woman is clearly going out of her way to follow.
In hopes of preventing a flare-up, she packs special, gluten-free lunches each day. (All of which are clearly labeled with her name.) For four consecutive days, her food was magically disappearing from the communal fridge. By the second week, she sent a kind email to the staff to alert them of the issue.
Sadly, her kind email didn’t work.
So, she went to her boss.
The next day (post-email), she found that her food was missing from the fridge yet again. So she did the only thing there was left to do—she went to the boss. But he didn’t take any drastic measures to solve the problem—he just sent out yet another email reminding the staff to only eat what’s theirs. (You shouldn’t have to tell a group of adults to “only eat their food.” This isn’t preschool.)
His email didn’t work, either.
The next day, it happened again. (This thief is honestly ridiculous.)
“I asked my boss if we could put cameras in the lunchroom, he said ‘No,'” she writes. “I asked if he would comp my lunch expenses as I had to buy from the local cafe and [it’s] expensive yo! He again said ‘No.’ I sent out another email and spoke to as many people as I could (about 15 out of the 20 in my office).”
Even after both failed attempts, she went to work the next day feeling positive.
How she hasn’t raged through the entire office at this point is beyond me.
Instead of busting into work, which is exactly what I would have done, she left another note on her lunch noting that it was hers and that she would appreciate it if no one touched it. By lunchtime, her food was gone. So she did exactly what I would have done…
She threw out everyone’s food.
Finally, she gets revenge.
Want to know the best part? No one even knew it was her!
“The boss sent out another email threatening written notice for anyone who touches anyone else’s food,” she writes. “My lunch hasn’t been touched since.” Sweet victory.
Even though I’m all for her final actions, there are quite a few people who disagree.
Her husband was the first to tell her it was a pretty jerk thing to do.
“My Husband told me I was an a-hole because everyone in my office didn’t deserve to have their lunch ruined because of one person stealing mine,” she writes. “I think I’m justified because no one took the blame for what they did, and my boss wouldn’t do anything about it. I’m sure once everyone had their lunch ruined they understood how much it would have sucked for me.”
Reddit users were also quick to judge her actions.
I guess ruining everyone’s lunch wasn’t the best thing to do in this situation.
Several users commented that her act of revenge was selfish and that no one, including her, has the right to touch someone else’s food. But, in the same breath, this judgemental Reddit user suggested spiking her lunches to catch the culprit.
Now, who’s the jerk?
I mean, come on this isn’t a prank war.
Instead of simply throwing out her co-worker’s lunches, Reddit user FatManJay told her she should have spiked her lunch with ghost peppers. “Won’t be long until you know who’s taking it,” he writes.
This is terrible advice.
That could get you sucked into a lawsuit.
Tampering (even with your own lunch) in an attempt to harm someone else is against the law. Why? Because you could actually poison them. There’s an entire Reddit thread discussing this very issue. It was a classic case of someone stole my brownie, so I laced them with laxatives.
Laxatives, however, can be fatal.
In 2014, 12 adults and one child died of an accidental overdose.
Rule of thumb: Read the label. According to the Food and Drug Administration, some over-the-counter laxatives are potentially dangerous if the dosing instructions are ignored.
“The bottom line is that these products are safe for otherwise healthy adults and older children for whom dosing instructions are provided on the Drug Facts label as long as they follow these dosing instructions and don’t take the product more often, or in greater amounts, than the label instructs,” FDA medical officer, Dr. Mona Khurana said in a statement.
According to a 2017 American Express OPEN survey, about 18 percent of Americans admit that they’ve stolen a coworker’s lunch.
URBO, which describes the crime as one of the worst office sins imaginable, rounded some of the best ways people responded to catching their co-workers stealing.
“There used to be a guy who would steal my energy drinks from the walk-in cooler,” says Quora user Rik Osborne. “When called on it, he would insist he was drinking his own, and unfortunately, there was no way to prove [the theft], because he did indeed frequently bring energy drinks to work.”
21. This man came up with a clever solution, after his expensive energy drinks were being stolen.
“I started taking a Sharpie and writing the words ‘STOLEN FROM RIK’ on the bottoms of my cans. So now, if he was drinking one of mine, everybody could see it—every time he lifted the can to his lips.”
22. This man made sure his wife’s lunch never got stolen again
One Reddit user, who likes to cook his wife a “delicious lunch each day” got tired of hearing “that someone was stealing her lunch every couple of days out of the fridge at work.”
“I made her some buffalo wings for lunch to put in the fridge,” the author, before revealing he’d used some incredibly spice sauce. Instead of following the manufacturer’s recommendation, this Reddit user added several drops per wing AND a “nice dusting of ghost chili powder for good measure.”
“I did eat a couple to make sure it wouldn’t kill anybody,” he warned. “They were real hot. Even cream doesn’t cut the heat, and ghost chilies keep getting hotter for about five minutes after you consume them. Needless to say, just before lunch, there was a shrill scream from the kitchen.”
It turns out her male co-worker had helped himself to this woman’s lunch and ended up vomiting all over the toilet.
He says his wife recalled his moans sounding like he was dying, meanwhile his wife “just sat there innocently pretending like nothing was wrong.”
Nothing, however, beats this next story. And, honestly, you’re never going to want to steal someone’s lunch…especially not at a law firm.
23. This law firm caught a senior associate stealing out of the work fridge with a hidden camera
Quora user Kevin Mark Wray worked as a paralegal at a law firm, who took stealing very seriously.
He said, “Everyone suspected various attorneys, since we had such a busy floor—we were in the litigation department—it was difficult to [determine] who it might be.”
They set up a webcam in the break-room, which Kevin explains was really just a fridge, coffee station, and a copier, and waited.
Two days later, they had the thief on camera and sent the thief a note containing every victim’s request for a catered lunch.
“The note with the photos said: ‘Pay up, or we send the entire footage of the 45-second theft to the management committee.’ He ordered the lunches and the thefts ended right then and there,” Kevin revealed.
He also offered a pretty solid piece of advice, advising people to also use a webcam, since it’s never okay to poison someone.