As I've previously mentioned on this blog, I have fond memories of the great Wendy's thumb-in-the-chili scare of 2005. The incident escalated into a huge win-win for just about everyone involved. Office workers got a great story for the water cooler, and I personally benefited many times over when Wendy's offered free Frosty's for a weekend in a shameless attempt to stifle the bad publicity. Not everyone fared so well I guess...Wendy's suffered all that aforementioned bad publicity, and the woman behind the fake thumb hoax is now banned from Wendy's for life. (Though one could argue whether that's a punishment). And seven years later, I benefited again when I found this low quality but still entertaining photo on the internet:
If 2005 was the year of the chili, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the sandwich. The first few months of the year were relatively calm before a 14 year-old took an unsettling bite of an Arby's sandwich this past May. Ryan Hart of Jackson, Michigan bit into something rubbery and tough to chew in his roast beef sandwich. Hart must have an unusually curious nature, because most people place their orders at Arby's fully expecting at least one rubbery bite of unknown origin. For the sake of his peace of mind, it's too bad he was so curious...
Hart pulled the foreign object from his mouth, revealing part of a human finger that his mother estimated was about a quarter inch thick and an inch long. Police investigated his fleshy find and learned that a worker accidentally cut off part of her finger in a meat slicer, and the rest of the world-class Arby's team continued serving food before they noticed what had happened. The kid was prescribed some medication and had his blood tested. A friend of the family who was present for the digity-delight swore off fast food for life, eloquently stating, "We don’t eat fast food no more." Despite the unpleasant surprise in his meal, Ryan Hart gave his Arby's Roast Beef sandwich one partial thumb up.
Two months later, sandwiches sprung up in the news again. Just this morning, the news covered the story of a man on a Delta Airlines plane headed from Amsterdam to Minneapolis whose in-flight turkey sandwich fought back. While taking the second bite of his sandwich, James Tonges got poked in the top of the mouth by a needle. (Note the irony of a man whose last name very closely resembles "tongue" getting poked in the mouth.) You'd expect this kind of thing in coach, but the most surprising part is that Tonues was served his stabby sandwich in elite business class!
"Needles" to say, Tongues wasn't pleased with his violent meal, and he's now taking anti-HIV medication as a precaution while medical experts test the needle. This appears to be more than just an isolated accident--a total of six needles were found in sandwiches on planes leaving Amsterdam headed for the U.S. on Sunday. The F.B.I. is all over the case, working to determine who's behind this. Could it be a grossly undereducated food service employee who horribly misread a turkey sandwich recipe? Maybe it's the act of a terrorist who's trying to destroy freedom and capitalism by unraveling American's previously unwaving faith in airline food. They really know where to hit us where it hurts...
I guess "potential stabbing" now joins "horrendous taste" and "exhorbitant price" on the list of reasons not to eat airline food. Worse yet, when Tonges reported the incident to Delta flight attendants, they charged him a $15 extraction fee to remove the needle from his mouth.
Where do we go from here? The simple sandwich always seemed like a safe, comfortable meal option. I don't know about you, but I'm going to think twice before I slot anything between two slices of bread. Between Arby's and Delta, I guess there's still a slimmer of hope that these freaky incidents remain isolated to the lowest tier of the sandwich hierarchy. Chew carefully, my friends...
Here are some links to the stories: