Don’t Eat the Chicken

One way college changed me is that it dramatically lowered my standards for what constitutes edible food. Not only did I take serving sizes and sell by dates as polite suggestions, but I also approached meals with an “anything goes” attitude. I no longer microwaved leftovers, just ate them cold.

So even when I visited the Majestic Steakhouse last Saturday with express orders to not order any steaks—I was in Kansas City, MO (of, apparently, fountains and boulevards) with my business competition team and the lunch was paid for by our organization—I was prepared to transcend to a higher plane of existence. I ordered a dish of chicken topped with cranberries, candied walnuts, and goat cheese.


FullSizeRender (6)
I text Mom pics of good food because I’ve never forgiven her for that one time she sent me pics of free donuts I couldn’t eat, as I was at school


Thanks to my kryptonite, spinach and artichoke dip with bread, I’d only had two (heavenly) bites of the chicken before I had to take everything to-go. Holding the black plastic container close to my chest, I looked forward to returning to our AirBnB and finishing the glorious meal.

Only… we ended up staying at the convention center, where the competition would be held the next day, to attend various welcome events and ceremonies that I could not believe took precedence over my chicken. The hours snailed by, and I grew more and more impatient. (I mean, I was also impatient to return because we needed to practice our actual presentation, but I can’t deny the chicken’s significant role.)

Team Member 1, multiple times throughout the day: I smell your food.

Me: Well, at least someone’s enjoying it.

Team Member 2: It doesn’t smell that good.

Me: I’m sorry, what did you say to me?

Six hours later, as we were about to leave the center, Team Member 3, who’d also carried around a to-go box the entire time, asked me if I was looking forward to finally eating my chicken. Before I could scream the affirmative, Team Member 1 suggested I throw it away because it’d probably gone bad.

Me: Are you sure?

TM 1: Yeah, I mean, it’s cooked chicken and it’s been left out all day.


TM 4: Nicole, don’t do it.


Professor: Nicole, I will pay for a dinner to replace that chicken.

TM 4: We’re competing tomorrow, and you probably don’t want to be throwing up during the presentation. Unless you can hold off for fifteen and a half minutes.

Me: … Yeah, okay. Maybe I’ll just eat around it.

But while I ostensibly acquiesced, I began to very seriously consider my options. Cons of eating the chicken? I get sick and feel terrible. I get sick and screw up our presentation. I get sick and do unspeakable things to our shared AirBnb bathroom. Pros of eating the chicken?

Well, I’d get to eat the chicken. And it was hard to argue with that, so I opened Google to find results confirming what I wanted to hear. Can you eat chicken left out six hours, I typed. The first result was an AskMetaFilter forum (here, for your perusal) on “Can I eat this cooked chicken I left on our counter?”

The original poster had posed the question four years ago. She was asking about “kosher chicken parts in barbeque sauce left on kitchen counter uncovered overnight (approx. 12-14 hours).” She knew “the FDA wouldn’t recommend but [she was] looking for the hive mind.” A woman after my own heart, I thought, and scrolled down to read the replies.

Replies I Read

  1. No.
  2. Nope.
  3. 100% No.
  4. Do not eat this.
  5. Please throw this out.
  7. I’ve pulled pizzas out of the garbage can at a public park and eaten them. And I’m STILL saying OH GOD NO.

I read these replies, laughing, to my teammates.

TM 1: You’re still going to eat the chicken, aren’t you.

… I was. A higher power compelled me; I had no choice. Somehow, I knew I was meant to eat this chicken, this spiritually ordained poultry. My decision made, I texted Mom as a last-minute safeguard.

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I don’t know that I would’ve abstained had she said no, but I definitely would’ve thought twice.

“If it smells ok” was her response. My teammates laughed uncontrollably as I smelled the chicken. Of course the chicken smelled okay, given that it was smothered in sauce. I briefly entertained the option of asking one of them to smell it, too, but ultimately figured they didn’t appreciate the gravity of this situation and savored the chicken by myself.

Oddly enough, I only slightly regretted my decision as I waited for any effects to kick in. How long to tell if you have food poisoning. How long food poisoning last. But nothing happened. I mean, there was a moment where I felt a twinge in my stomach, but I couldn’t tell if it was just me being disappointed in myself.

After we finished presenting, without my having contracted explosive diarrhea, I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. I’d fought the chicken, and I’d won. At least, I think—our presentation had a few minor hiccups and we didn’t win (not that we’d expected to). It’s like that old joke, “Have you ever thought that paper cuts are a tree’s last revenge? You cut us down; we cut you up,” except more like “you leave me out, I leave you dead.”

Please help me out and like my page on Facebook! I try to post on Sundays, and some of the time, I succeed.

Finally, three things. One, how do you like the redesign? I figured it was about time to change the logo before I got sued, given that I didn’t draw that cat. I mean, I got it from some free headers website and am not making money off this blog, but who knows how the law works. Probably lawyers.

Two, so sorry about that “C” I sent out on Tuesday. I have a lot of fears, and mistakenly publishing posts is up there.

Three, you’ve probably already heard, but a day after I posted about being paranoid about a bomb in a movie theater, a terrorist bombed an Ariana Grande concert. I was incredibly saddened by the news. It’s a cruel world we live in.

28 thoughts on “Don’t Eat the Chicken

  1. I think Americans are very weird about these things. In Mexico, I rented a room where the matron of the house used to leave cooked meat in sauce in the pot, on the unlit stove, with only a lid covering it to keep flies out. Everyone in the house ate it, no one got sick.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Maybe the room temperature matters? I’m not very discerning with what food I put in my mouth, so that chicken was by no means the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, but I think the reactions of my team/web made the whole thing much more dramatic than necessary. I actually would’ve eaten it without a second thought had the first girl not warned me against it.


  2. Hey Nicole!
    Concerning portions, I have become more conscious of that myself, and to a lesser extent, the expiration dates. Expiration dates are especially relevant, however, concerning perishable goods. Non-perishable food isn’t as imperative concerning that. So loosely, I observe the reverse of your strategy!

    One exception: canned acidic foods, like tomatoes and pineapple, should be eaten by its expiration date. This is due to the fact that acids in those foods can corrode the can’s metal and incorporate it into the juice. Not the worst effect, but it’s sure not pretty. (Pineapple juice may almost turn black if it sits on the shelf after 10 years or so.)

    Well, I’m glad you’ve won your bet. And while I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or other health pro, and thus cannot advise you on nutritional strategies, I can at least say this, when in doubt, don’t eat. Also as people get older, from testimonial evidence, they may start progressively axing food from their diets (for a number of reasons). Also, some visible red flags of more serious food poisoning cases you should heed (and avoid) are raw chicken or eggs (salmonella), raw ground beef (E. Coli), and bulging or severely dented canned food (botulism). Botulism is also a potential danger in home-canned food, and like E. coli, is quite lethal. Salmonella doesn’t kill as much, but could make you sick as a dog.

    Well, I wish you well, and hope you eat logically and with discretion. After all, kitchens are not casinos! LOL


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the people who say that reflecting on your experiences makes you a wiser person must really mean blogging about your stupid endeavors leads to readers educating you on real life lessons. Thanks! Is the pineapple juice observation a personal one?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it is! In 1997 (when I was 9), my mom opened a can of Dole pineapple rings – copyrighted 1985 but could be more recent.- for a holiday ham meal around (but not on) Christmas. I was a little afraid at first. but everyone was okay. That concern came from another pineapple can observed just a few months before (copyrighted 1986 — but again, copyrights are not always on target), which actually was tainted by botulism. Also, I would occasionally drink canned orange juice (yuk!), which again testifies to the corrosive nature of acidic liquids on metal.

        A few years ago, I volunteered at a food bank for my old church, and one of the people who ran that ministry advised acidic canned foods like tomatoes should not be used after their expiration date. Looking back to the pineapple confusion, same deal.with any food that’s acidic.

        Have a good night!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Even before you revealed it I knew you were going to be OK – chickenwise. Maybe my standards aren’t where they would want them (they = those people not they = my standards) (them = my standards not them = those people), I don’t reconsider food unless something is growing in the container that I didn’t put there.
    Love the design but I’m probably going to miss the ice cream. That was my vicarious Sunday night treat.


      1. Absolutely I craved sundaes looking at yours every week. I just happen to be a master of will power. That and I’m pretty lazy by the end if the weekend and was easily sated just by the thought of all that ice cream and whipped cream and nuts and cherries and… excuse me, I have to make a quick run to the Dairy Queen.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. i like the redesign, especially the fact that the type size is smidge larger.

    What I learned from reliable sources about expiration or “sell by” dates is that they’re mostly just cooked up (so to speak) by different food producers….serving no purpose, have nothing to do with health or safety, no consistent standards from state to state, methods of determining are often arbitrary. See my blog rant on this

    Of course “sell by” dates and actual food poisoning potential can be very different things. I agree with Frank: If in doubt, don’t take the chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nothing (cooked) will go bad in 6 hrs … Milk yogurt or raw meat, might perhaps be exceptions (i would pin milk somewhere closer to the 12, and yogurt would perhaps taste odd, but be harmless). Not sure, but I don’t think e coli is especially deadly, unless your old/5yo/aids , although it can get bad. Smells right, taste it, tastes right, eat it. Food poisoning usually comes from stuff the food has or grows before cooking (?). Mold, for instance, will not hurt you (aflatoxin takes chronic high exposure to cause issues). Not to wade into exotic marine or mushroom toxins, but those are molecules, not bugs. Probably the most hazardous thing to watch out for in a residence is acetaminophen (& aspirin if around small children)


    1. Okay, looked at Wikipedia. Excess aflatoxin CAN cause acute poisoning. But detectable or above FDA limit amounts are found in vast numbers of products. Products-at-store, not stuff in fridge too long, per se.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Even when it’s not in room temperature? I carried around the chicken outside (it was in a to-go box, of course) for those hours. Also, once I got food poisoning from cafeteria chicken and waffles, and that’s still a mystery to me.


      1. That’s kinda my opinion. Although heat might make the food less appealing, I wouldnt think it would make it sickening. Microbes require time to multiply, and fully cooked food will be starting from a base number of zero (except from your fork/mouth). Closed against the breeze they gather less. And my thinking is that they mostly need a certain amount of decay to set in before they can multiply a lot; fresh out of the oven the molecular environment is adverse for them. But I’m no expert.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. while I have become a lot more discerning about the leftovers I consume, probably due to several trips to the ER to get my stomach pumped, it probably has to be said that you were fortunate. I’ve eaten food in places around the world with less concern about food poisoning than in the USA. But westerners as a rule tend to toss out a lot of food that sits in reefers uneaten. What does me in these days are foods containing capsaicin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, no! If I may ask, what’leftovers necessitated a trip to the ER? The comments on this post are pretty mixed in that some say I got lucky but others say I had nothing to worry about the whole time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s a sordid tale: it was actually a food allergy behind it all. I loved spicy food – hot pepper and chile sauces all my life. What I learned about a year or so ago, is that an allergic reaction to the chemical – capsaicin constricted my GI tract- and hard to digest foods would block me up. A couple days in the hospital until the allergy subsided and my GI returned to normal. Since I loved and ate these foods all the time, I presumed was the flu or age catching up with a long ago surgery. Now I carry benadryl and am very particular about ingredients.

    Also I make smaller portions and freeze what I cook at the beginning of the week for meals throughout the week. Things don’t sit in the reefer or out on the counter all week until eaten. Most things have a lot of preservatives, but there are things that can go a little off particularly if they were prepared with older ingredients to begin with

    Liked by 2 people

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