‘The Office’: Meredith Palmer Didn’t Really Eat Hand Sanitizer — Here’s What Kate Flannery Actually Ate on Set

Kate Flannery played Meredith Palmer, the resident alcoholic on The Office. There’s one scene, in particular, many fans have questioned over the years — did Flannery lick real hand sanitizer from her palm? Now, fans finally have the answer! 

Kate Flannery as Meredith Palmer and Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone
Kate Flannery and Brian Baumgartner | Byron Cohen/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Kate Flannery based Meredith Palmer on real-life bar folk

According to Flannery, everyone knows a Meredith. “I felt like I met a lot of Merediths [in my life],” she said during an interview with Comic Cure. “Being a bar owner’s daughter, playing an alcoholic — I come by it quite honestly.” 

Growing up, Flannery’s father owned Flannery’s Tavern. “My grandfather started it in 1933,” she said. “It’s a bar in Germantown, and we would go there on Sundays, listen to the jukebox, eat Slim Jims, [and] drink Coca Cola.” The experiences she had at her family bar helped Flannery channel the lush Meredith Palmer was on The Office.

For viewers, Meredith was the hilarious party girl with a desk job. She made outrageous commentary and had a unique perspective on office policy, but Meredith was also one of the most honest characters on The Office

“Even in her silence, there’s honesty,” Flannery said in an interview with Today. “She’s the observer, short-sighted as she is,” she added. “Meredith is [also] wildly inappropriate, but she’s not that loud all the time, so you might not notice.”

Meredith Palmer made for some of the most hilarious moments on ‘The Office’

Fans knew they were in for a laugh when Meredith appeared. 

There was the time Michael Scott (Steve Carell) struck Meredith with his car. The incident sparked the entire office to visit Meredith, en masse, at the hospital. Another time, Meredith made an inappropriate outfit choice on a casual day, causing Oscar (Oscar Nunez) to exclaim, “Meredith, your boob is out!” Perhaps one of the funniest Meredith scenes on The Office is when she ate Angela’s (Angela Kinsey) hand sanitizer in season 3.

In “Gay Witch Hunt,” Michael was eagerly awaiting the arrival of his new employees, who were merging from the Stamford branch. When he denies Meredith the champagne — which was for “guests only” — she resorted to eating the waterless hand sanitizer sitting on Angela’s desk.

Flannery recently revealed what she was actually consuming in that scene. 

Kate Flannery was eating gelatin, not hand sanitizer

Flannery was a guest on the Office Ladies podcast, and she finally revealed the answer to a question many fans have had over the years — what was she really eating in the scene where she licks Angela’s hand sanitizer off of her hand? 

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“They actually changed what was in the bottle,” Flannery said on the podcast, continuing:

They put gelatin with club soda. So it had the bubbles. It was just clear gelatin. But they put it back in the same bottle that the original hand sanitizer came in, which was very perfumey. So when I went to lick it off my hand and it [tasted] like perfume…it was kind of gross.

Flannery admitted that she isn’t a gelatin fan, but she was willing to do “four or five takes” to perfect the scene!