The Five Second Rule Fail

My husband and I feel very differently about ‘the 5 second rule’ – come on, you know what it is…the rule that food dropped on the floor is edible if picked up within 5 seconds (as long as it’s not a ‘moisty’ food – then all bets are off…unless it’s a washable ‘moisty’ food – then there’s room for debate).  From my ‘moisty’ description, it’s probably pretty obvious which side of the fence I fall on.  I’m down with the 5 second rule. My husband? Not so much. He’s squeamish if a Cheerio hits the ground and I pick it up.

(Of course, this is the guy that saw something on the carpet {sans eyeglasses}, picked it up and kind of rudely exclaimed “What is this??!!” I could only laugh hysterically as he realized he’d picked up a piece of cat poop that had escaped out of the kitty litter in a mysterious manner.  I’m still laughing now…  He flung it from himself as if it was on fire and then started laughing. Needless to say, he’s not so keen to pick shit up off the floor so readily anymore – nor eat it…go figure.)

Anyhow – I’d always used the 5 second rule at home – and with my kid. So one day, when he was about 8, we were at the grocery store getting chicken wings from their ‘self serve’ station.  After I had chosen some, he asked if he could put some in the box too. So I let him and sort of paid attention to other things as he picked out his own wings.  We finished shopping and get ourselves on home.

As we’re all noshing on the chicken wings, my son proudly announces that he used the 5 second rule on the chicken wings he’d dropped on the grocery store floor.  Simultaneously, my husband and I do a ‘spit take’ of our respective wings and fling them into the sink. My husband then starts exclaiming in a slightly hysterical voice “SEE! SEE! YOU HAVE TO TELL HIM THAT THE 5 SECOND RULE IS BAD! SEE WHAT HAPPENS? SEE WHAT HAPPENS?

I think my amusement is kind of definitely irking my husband but I did tell our kid that “while the 5 second rule is fine for the house (my husband is vehemently shaking his head and yelling “IT’S NOT! IT’S NOT!”) you can’t use it in the grocery store – or any place in public. Store floors are gross.” He looks at me, at his father and at the chicken wing in his hand, shrugs his shoulders and takes a bite.  HA! He’s totally my kid.  I think my husband might have had a stroke.

And that’s my story ~




About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Childhood, Children, Eating, Family, Food, Humor, Parenting, Story and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to The Five Second Rule Fail

  1. jlheuer says:

    In my house you can use the 5 sec rule if you first ,hold what you picked up, to the light…no cat hair? ..then its good to go.

  2. We are exposed to so many other germs and crap during the day that my 5-second rule is more of a 5-minute rule. Or even a find it and eat it rule. I’m disgusting.

  3. List of X says:

    I’m not a germophobe, I have a live and let live attitude towards them, so I’d just adjust 5 second rule depending on how many strangers use the place, and how close to the litter box the food had landed. As long as the food fell in my house and outside the litter box, it’s not an automatic disqualification.

  4. Amy Reese says:

    Ha ha. Denise. I love these discussions. Well, I’m probably like you…I do it at home, but anywhere else and goodbye food. In the garbage it goes. One thing I can’t tolerate is hair in my food and that always seems to be on the floor somewhere! Yuck!

  5. Elyse says:

    Experts believe that we have too little bacteria in our guts and that is why there is so much IBD these days. But I think the three of you are probably now safe!

  6. The texture and absorbency and moistness of the food definitely are a contributing factor. Also, there’s the “has it been trodden on?” factor. Plus, the frequency of the washing of the floor. Around here the floors are quite old and don’t see soap very often, so it’s been amended to the 3 second rule.

  7. Paul says:

    Ha! Your conversation above with Twindaddy reminded me of an old restaurant joke.The restaurant owner had an efficiency specialist come to analyze his operations. On the expert’s suggestion, he called all his staff together and told them that they were wasting too much time replacing customers’ utensils that fell on the floor. He insisted that each waiter/waitress carry a clean knife, fork and spoon in their pocket and when a customer requested a clean utensil they were to use these spares to do the job. This worked fine and yet the expert continued to search for efficiencies. Once again the owner called the staff together. This time he told the male waiters that they were urinating so often that they were wasting time washing their hands each time. He insisted that when they urinate, they were not to touch themselves and hence did not have to use the time washing their hands. So, it came to be shortly thereafter, that two waiters were in the Men’s room standing at the urinals. They had unzipped thier pants but were unsure how to proceed. One looked at the other and voiced his frustration: ” So, what re we to do now?” The other replied: “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to use the spoon.”

  8. I’m ok with the 5 second rule at home but I’m squeamish about germs in public (classic us versus them). I even tried using a shopping cart cover when my son was a baby until I realized it had to be washed after each use. Of course, as soon as I stopped using it I caught him chewing the shopping cart like a teething ring and he got his first cold soon after. Kids are gross. I had to make up a song about not eating boogers (boogers are gross don’t eat ’em, boogers are gross don’t eat ’em, don’t stick your fingers in your nose and stick ’em in your mouth, don’t eat ’em!).

  9. Our Auntie is germ-phobic to the point of refusing to eat in most restaurants and when she DOES eat out (NEVER in a buffet or salad bar!) she refuses to let her utensils touch the table. I can cause her to hyperventilate simply by putting my fork down then reusing it for the next bite. Much fun. I’m a proponent of meeting and mastering as many germs as possible – my immune system must be a champion heavy-weight power lifter by now. I haven’t had the flu, or so much as a cold, in decades.

    • I don’t know what I’d do if I was your Auntie or had someone with that fear in my house – it would be a hard battle for them.

      I’m a believer in some germs are good for you – but I’m not a proponent of licking the public bathroom floors 🙂 I have to draw the line some place…

  10. Robin says:

    Funny, I’m like you, I have the “conditional” 5 sec. rule and the house and the car aren’t so bad too. I stopped short in the car the other day and a whole box of crackers I just bought fell upside down and we happily ate those (no they were not wet). But then I caught my son rest his mouth on the grocery store cart handle. UGH! We had that talk, about what’s ok at home, what’s gross outside the house, I think he gets it. I think w/the food-allergy situation I need to stress the “out is bad” situation because who the heck knows what’s in and on that cart…..

  11. It’s definitely an immunity-building thing. Over-sanitisation of everything is really no good, and really, we have no idea what is in so much of our food anyway. I go beyond the 5 second rule, I say if there’s no visible dirt, it’s fine, and if there’s visible dirt that can be brushed off, it’s still fine. People touch things when they’re out and about and then don’t always wash their hands before eating. I’m careful about kitchen hygiene, I don’t cross-contaminate etc, but in terms of general germs that are all around us, I don’t see any point in over worrying. And also, while we might think the floors of our own homes are less germy than the floors of grocery stores, I wonder if that’s true? They probably use a lot more bleach and stuff on those grocery store floors than we do, and we tread in all kinds of things from everywhere into our homes. That is a funny story about your son though, I wonder if anyone saw him do it and sniggered to themselves knowing that you hadn’t seen!

  12. El Guapo says:

    All food dropped must be evaluated on its own merits.
    In kitchens I’ve worked in, it was all a question of whether we thought we could sell the food without being sued.

  13. Twindaddy says:

    I don’t eat anything once it’s hit any floor.

  14. LFFL says:

    Lol! I’m pretty sure I’m more on the husband’s side. But I had an ex-boyfriend who dropped an entire bowl of baked beans on the kitchen floor (the baked beans were literally on the floor—not in the bowl). He had his heart set on eating these as a side dish with his potato salad, pulled pork sandwich or whatever his main course was. And these were the only baked beans in the house. He was so desperate to eat the only baked beans around that he proceeded to scrape them all up and just pile them onto his plate with the rest of his food. And he didn’t even try to HIDE this side of himself from me. I mean, HOW LONG had this been going on?! I thought he was going to obviously throw them away. But he thought it ok to contaminate the rest of his food on his plate with the fallen baked beans. It’s not like you can CLEAN baked beans like a piece of candy or something. I was grossed out nonetheless that he’d resorted to an animal in that moment. I mean, this was a DIRTY KITCHEN FLOOR that had been walked on with dirty shoes, probably pieces of old food crumbs and hair and Lord knows what else down there for God’s sake! It’s not like we had just mopped it. I’ve never seen such a thing. Dropping a cookie or a hard piece of candy on the floor is already bad enough—but an entire bowl of BAKED BEANS scattered about?! Geez Louise! See what your husband thinks about that one!

    • I’m laughing hysterically – oh my god, that’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a while. Did you want to kiss those lips after he ate?

      I think they definitely fell in the category of ‘moisty’ foods.


      • LFFL says:

        God NO, I didn’t want to go near him! It pretty much went downhill after that for me. My mouth was wide open as I watched this happen before me. And then he went straight into the living room with his plate and sat there and ate like any other day. Like this was normal to do—especially with MOIST foods. Are you KIDDING ME! Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about him anymore anyway. LOL!

  15. JackieP says:

    Haha! This was funny. Kids will do things like that, give him a few more years though and he might be like the husband lol

  16. Carrie Rubin says:

    Yeah, I’m kind of with you. Kids have put far worse things into their mouths before they leave the oral phase; a goldfish from the kitchen floor isn’t going to do much harm. (‘Sucking on mom or dad’s car keys as an infant probably carries far more germs.) But a little grime helps boost our immune systems, after all. But I’d draw the line at the grocery store, too. Too high on the gross scale. 🙂

  17. unfetteredbs says:

    I’m with your husband on this one… Thanks for the chuckle

  18. Lauren Johnson says:

    Haha! Love this. Although I would normally agree with your husband on this one, I have to admit that I used this rule the other day with peanut m&ms! I thought I finished the bag and was so excited to see two “extras” were found on the floor…lol! So, I guess I’ll bend the rule depending on how yummy the food is. 😉

Divulge your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s