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Watch Your Mouth: Why Do We Shoplift Meat and Cheese? Meatlifting: The Economics of Shoplifting Meat and Cheese

Meat and cheese tops the charts of shoplifted items. Why do we purloin sirloin and cop Camembert?


This summer, a Pennsylvania man was caught stuffing a pork loin down his pants. Men have also recently slid sirloins into their shorts in South Carolina, Florida, and Australia. Two women rolled off with wheels of gouda from Whole Foods Market in June. An organized gang in Florida drove away with seven tractor-trailers worth of cucumbers, tomatoes, and frozen meat in March. A Texas sting, “Operation Meat Locker,” busted up a ring of modern cattle rustlers who had been shoplifting retail cuts of beef and selling them to local restaurants.

The five-finger discount isn't just showing up on the police beat—it's also reasserted itself more broadly in pop culture. In The New Yorker’s “Money Issue,” Miranda July writes that stealing requires a kind of Zen oneness akin to horse whispering or surfing (she ate through early adulthood by lifting soy products from the supermarket). Shoplifting from American Apparel is practically required reading for Generation Ambivalent. Wendy loses Lucy after unsuccessfully trying to steal dog food. Eater even has a column devoted to “Shit People Steal.”

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Watch Your Mouth: The Protest Food of Occupy Wall Street Occupy Wall Street and the Protest Food of Our Generation

The history of countercultural movements can be told through their stomachs. When will this one find its signature protest dish?

Occupy Wall Street is entering its fourth week of protesting corporate greed from New York City’s Zuccotti Park. Last week, the movement’s ranks swelled above 10,000. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. From the start, Occupy Wall Street’s Food Committee has taken on the logistical challenge of feeding its ever-growing participants by calling for donations, encouraging newcomers to bring food to share, and extolling the virtues of the quick and portable peanut butter sandwich. But the movement has yet to find its signature dish.

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Watch Your Mouth: I Can't Believe That Anti-Margarine Law's Still on the Books Butter vs. Margarine: A Legal and Cultural History

Wisconsin is wrestling with a little law that's a last vestige of a former battle over butter. Here's what that means for fake food everywhere.


After Googling “Stupid Wisconsin Laws” recently, Dale Kooyenga stumbled on a 1973 law prohibiting “colored margarine” from being served at a restaurant unless a customer specifically orders it. The regulation sounds like something straight out of Lake Wobegon, but it remains on the books in real-life Wisconsin.

For Kooyenga, Googling legislative stupidity constitutes work. Kooyenga, a freshman Republican state representative, moved to rectify the dairy state’s reputation by introducing a bill earlier this month to repeal the antiquated anti-margarine law. Because the statute also prevents institutions from serving non-butter butter replacements in prisons, Kooyenga argued that a repeal could save taxpayers money: Real butter is three times as expensive as the tubbed stuff.

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Watch Your Mouth: The Sounds of Snacking Crunch Time: The Use of Sound in Marketing Foods

Chips crunch. Bags crinkle. Snapple pops. Here's how sound intersects with the branding of food.

When Laura Scudder set out to create a better potato chip package in 1926, she had her female employees iron wax paper linings inside paper bags. The airtight bags transformed chips, removing them from barrels and tins and placing them on store shelves pretty much indefinitely. The packaging signaled the ascendancy of the lowly spud as one of the country’s most popular vegetables and a familiar symbol of convenience. The bag did one other thing: it crinkled.

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Watch Your Mouth: Four Loko and the Search for a Safe Caffeinated Booze Four Loko and the Search for a Safe Caffeinated Booze

What coca-infused wine and a hyper-charged drinking culture can tell us about today's booze-with-a buzz craze.


Last fall, emergency personnel found a New York teenager lying on the subway tracks. Other kids had been discovered passed out at school, asleep in a building lobby, and splayed out in a dark public park. Each of them turned up in Bellevue Hospital Center’s pediatric emergency room with one thing in common: They had reportedly downed Four Loko, a 23.5-ounce concoction that originally contained as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and about as much alcohol as four regular beers.

Caffeine and alcohol are two of the world's most popular legal drugs, and in theory, their effects pair nicely. Following last year's youth health scare, Food and Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg declared caffeine an illegal additive in alcoholic drinks, stating that the active ingredients in Four Loko produced "a state of wide-awake drunk."

Precisely. That effect was so popular that fans rushed to stock up on the stuff before it was cleared from the shelves. So how do we get a wide-awake drunk feeling without winding up zombie-eyed on a subway platform?

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