The best scam of all!

Courtesy of bestclipart

Courtesy of bestclipart

We have a local small city newspaper. It is struggling just like all newspapers these days. I support the paper by subscribing because I think local papers and magazines are important. The people who work there are very creative but this idea takes the cake (literally)!

Each year they run a cooking contest. You submit a recipe which they review. If you are chosen, you make the recipe and deliver it to the newspaper on a specific Saturday for tasting by the staff. The recipes are wide-ranging from appetizers to desserts and everything in between.

Think about it. You are working for a newspaper on a slow day. You are in the break room kicking ideas around with your working BFFs.

“It sure would be great to have food,  free food. We could have a covered dish day where everyone brings something in but how can we do that without all the work.”

Locally there are more men than women at the newspaper. Without being sexist, I will say that it’s most likely that women will bring food in rather than men. I know this from actual experience. Most men just bring their appetites to work food days. Or maybe they will bring pretzels which they bought at the local gas station on the way to work.

“Eureka! Let’s have a cooking contest. We can request recipes in advance to ensure that there is a balanced meal and give the suckers winners proper publicity. That’s a win-win for all.”

And so it was written.

The reason I know this for a fact is that a woman who worked for me was one of the winners. She is a delightful person but I was stunned when I heard she won a cooking contest.

She is not a cooking fanatic nor did she seem the least bit interested in food except to eat it. I don’t remember her ever cooking anything to bring into work.

She didn’t develop a recipe as most contestants do but Googled recipes until she found one that didn’t take too much work or too many ingredients. Who wants to buy all those specialized spices only to be used once?

Her submitted recipe was accepted. She cooked the dish for the first time and took it to the contest area at the newspaper on the assigned day. There were many others with their dishes and the staff was milling around salivating.

If you feel comfortable eating food made by anyone (yes, I know some of you prefer places where you either know the cook or the establishment is inspected), this has to be the perfect scam.

Free food for the cost of an article and a plastic trophy! Everyone feels good!

Courtesy of Lakeshore Learning

Courtesy of Lakeshore Learning



19 thoughts on “The best scam of all!

  1. Kate … I used to work at a newspaper (two, actually). We often joked that if any one wanted to knock off the staff all they would have to do is bring food and leave it in the newsroom. Some staffers are notorious for inhaling food like starved wolverines. So, they probably didn’t even really taste the food your friend made. 😉


    • Exactly what I was thinking. I worked in the public relations department of a large company for 8 years. They were writers (mostly from newspapers) and artists and mostly men. They inhaled food no matter where it came from. I remember one guy who had the guts to fill a “doggie bag” because his young son liked whatever it was. Really? Couldn’t he just buy it for him? They were some of the cheapest people I ever worked with too. All that may sound negative but I loved working there. They were also the most creative and most inclusive group and they did the best office gags.


      • My husband made the mistake of leaving a gallon jug of fresh orange juice (purchased from a local orange groove) in the company refrigerator. Somebody opened it and drank out of it. Naturally, he threw the rest out. Yes, the group was creative and fun … but couldn’t the culprit have bought his own OJ?


  2. The newspaper contest is a perfect scam all right. But like so many readers have said above, no way would I eat something prepared by a stranger who just showed up with it. Yuck.


  3. She is not a cooking fanatic nor did she seem the least bit interested in food except to eat it. I don’t remember her ever cooking anything to bring into work. That made me laugh….it does seem like a ruse, doesn’t it…loved the pretzel line too. You’re very funny.


  4. How is it that I never thought of this? Brilliant! I could also use the old Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence trick, as in “I bet you don’t know how to make a moist and delicious chocolate cake. I just bet you could never ever do that.”


  5. I’m with you and Jill ~ just because the food is “free” doesn’t mean that we won’t pay the price for cooks who cook without proper sanitation.

    Still, some people have stronger constitutions because they eat anything and everything and build up an immunity to grease and grime and grubby paws.


    • When I worked we had a crockpot cook off contest (sounds a lot like the newspaper doesn’t it?). The first few years there was a woman that people said didn’t wash her hands when she used the bathroom. (Bathroom police?) Since it was anonymous, people would go crazy trying to figure out which entry was hers so they could skip it. No one ever got sick (at least that I know).


      • I assumed that cooks cooked only AFTER washing their hands . . . until my mother got older and started taking “shortcuts” in the kitchen. We got more and more nervous/paranoid about eating what she had prepared (which was sad because she had always been an EXCELLENT cook).

        Now, I’m a bit more choosy about choosing food at a potluck or even eating dinner at a friend’s home. Especially if I walk into the kitchen and see chaos.


        • I lean toward your side but who really knows how much bacteria we eat. “They say” the cooking process kills bacteria. Of course, there are salads…..

          As a cat owner, I get neurotic when I cook. My hands can get sore from overwashing.

          I remember the day that my mother served something dessertish she had had for a couple days. With her eyesight she missed the slight mold growth. Of course we never left her forget it!


    • I have gotten that way. Someone I know sold baked goods at flea markets. I was in her kitchen. It was filthy (and I am not a germaphobic…well maybe but just a little). She kept her money (coins and bills) on her counter next to sink. Not even in a dish. That was her food prep area!


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