15 Foods That Are a Horrible Mistake to Eat in the Office

If you work full time, you probably bring food to the office to get you through the day. Some of the best foods to boost productivity include eggs, bananas, and even tea and wine. But as important as productivity is, you should avoid bringing certain foods to work. Bringing messy foods can result in a lot of cleanup and potential embarrassment. Bringing foods with a strong smell also can be a bad idea. And sticky foods can cause temporary peril, as well. Here are 15 foods to avoid at work.

1. Barbecue

Grilled pork ribs

Barbecue is a messy endeavor. | iStock.com

If you’re outside or in the safety of your own home, a quality barbecue meal can be a wonderful treat. But barbecue isn’t the best choice for work because it is extremely messy. In addition to potentially destroying your clothes, if you are eating in a shared environment your co-workers might not enjoy watching you eat such a messy food. If you must have ribs at work, use a knife and fork. Also, be prepared to run to the bathroom to clean your hands and face.

Next: A party staple isn’t right for the office.

2. Guacamole or salsa

close-up of a tortilla chip dipped into smoky tomato salsa

Do you want to be wearing a spot of salsa all day? | Christine Skopec/The Cheat Sheet

Guacamole and salsa are definitely a hit with most people. And if you’re having a work party, you might be able to get away with bringing them to the office. Otherwise, leave these chip toppers at home. Both guacamole and salsa are very messy. Even if you only spill a little on your shirt or pants (or an important memo), you won’t be getting them off anytime soon.

Next: This isn’t a chocolate factory.

3. Candy

Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Unless you work in a chocolate factory you probably shouldn’t be snacking on candy. | Paramount Pictures

Have you ever walked by a child licking a lollipop and been astonished by the amount of mess? Candy tends to get all over your hands, your mouth, and anything you touch. When a kid does it, it can be kind of cute. But it isn’t so cute when your co-workers see you do the same thing.

If you really like snacking on candy, choose something that won’t stick all over everything. Also, pay attention to how much you’re eating. It can be easy to overindulge, and you might be affected by the aftermath of a sugar high later in the day.

Next: Another dessert that shouldn’t be at work

4. Glazed doughnuts

Dunkin Donuts

Doughnuts do not make a good office snack. | Dunkin Donuts

Not only are doughnuts messy, but the sticky ones tend to bring out unappealing behaviors, such as finger licking. You also might feel your teeth starting to hurt if you eat too many glazed doughnuts. If you must bring doughnuts, stick to the less messy options, such as the cake variety. If you’re really creative, consider bringing in cake pops. The sticks will help limit the mess.

Next: This is one of the most hated foods at work.

5. Tuna

Tuna melt

Some people can’t stand the smell of tuna. | iStock.com

Tuna is not an acquired taste for some people. Many people just cannot get past the strong taste or smell of this particular fish. Unless you can eat in private, do your co-workers a favor and don’t bring tuna to work. This is particularly true if you are going to eat in a cubicle, and your co-workers are nearby.

If you do bring tuna, be sure not to warm it up in a toaster oven or microwave. You risk prolonging the smell and affecting other people’s food. According to the Houston Press, all fish really should be off limits.

Next: What’s burning?

6. Popcorn

bowl filled with rosemary popcorn

You can’t get away from the smell of burnt popcorn at work. | iStock.com

Popcorn smells good to some people. But not everyone would agree. Even the people who do enjoy the smell might find it distracting. Also, if it burns it leaves a horrible, lasting odor that is sure to make it difficult for some people to finish their work day.

If you really want to have popcorn, try popping it at home and bringing it in a bag. You can mix plain popcorn with raisins, nuts, or other healthy ingredients to make a nice mix.

Next: What’s that smell?

7. Broccoli

broccoli dish

Some people think broccoli has an unpleasant smell. | iStock.com

Broccoli is another food some people think has a strong smell. If you bring it to work mixed with other items or eat it raw you will probably be OK. But it’s best not to microwave it because the smell can linger, and you also might harm the texture or color.

Another issue is broccoli can get stuck in your teeth. Broccoli is bright, and people will notice immediately if you have it in your teeth. So if you eat broccoli plan to brush your teeth afterward.

Next: Do I have anything in my teeth?

8. Raspberries and other berries

mixed berries

Berries can linger on your smile. | iStock.com

Raspberries — and berries in general — are a delicious, healthy choice for a quick snack. But each raspberry has more than 100 seeds that could get stuck in your teeth, which is not how you want to go around all day at work. In addition to temporarily staining your smile and leaving seeds between your teeth, they also can irritate your gums. Other fruits with seeds can create the same issues. So again, if you must have them at work at least have a toothbrush at the ready.

Next: This isn’t happy hour.

9. Alcohol or alcoholic foods

Jon Hamm in Mad Men

Don’t live out your Mad Men fantasies. | AMC

Unless you work at a company exactly like the one in Mad Men, you probably shouldn’t be bringing alcohol to work. Sipping whiskey from the flask inside your jacket isn’t going to win you big points at most offices. Also, avoid foods that have alcohol in them unless your boss tells you they are acceptable. Foods maintain some alcohol after the cooking process, so it’s important not to make anyone uncomfortable.

Next: What does this look like to you?

10. Inappropriately shaped food

orange peeled to resemble anatomy

HR won’t find inappropriate jokes so funny. | Technology Show via YouTube

Anatomically shaped foods might be amusing at a bachelor or bachelorette party, but they have no place at work. It doesn’t matter how funny you or your co-workers think they look. You risk getting written up or even fired if you bring these foods to work and make inappropriate jokes or comments.

Next: Vampires, beware.

11. Garlic

crushed garlic on wooden background

Unless you’re afraid of vampires, there’s no reason to eat garlic at work. | iStock.com/thodonal

Just like on a first date, garlic at the office is a no-no. After eating garlic, the smell can hang around for days, not only on your breath but coming out of your pores. Sweating makes the smell even stronger, Livestrong reports, so if you’re nervous about an important work presentation you definitely should lay off the garlic.

Next: This smell is too strong for some people.

12. Hard-boiled eggs

a bowl of eggs

Some people can’t take the smell of a hard-boiled egg. | Julianne Hough via Instagram

The Huffington Post ranks hard-boiled eggs as a “you can’t sit with us” food. They might seem like a quick and healthy office snack, but some people just can’t stand the smell. If you must bring a hard-boiled egg to work put some space between yourself and your co-workers to avoid an office gag fest.

Next: Crunch, crunch, crunch

13. Chips

potato chips in white bowl

Crunch time at work doesn’t mean reaching for the chips. | iStock.com/GooDween123

Unless you want the nickname Captain Crunch, stay away from chips, pretzels, and other crunchy snack foods. Nothing’s worse than when you’re trying to concentrate on your work in a quiet office, and you hear someone crunching from across the room. Be courteous, and don’t mindlessly chomp where others can hear you.

Next: These chips don’t make the cut either.

14. French fries

Homemade Parmesan Truffle French Fries

Fries are not an ideal office food. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Would you like fries with that financial report? The answer is no. French fries are an office triple threat: They’re messy with all the grease, the smell will permeate the entire office, and they won’t do your productivity any favors. Save fries for the weekend, and bring a healthier, cleaner food to work.

Next: Aw, nuts.

15. Nuts

peanut butter and nuts

Be aware of co-workers’ food allergies. | iStock.com/ALLEKO

Besides being annoyingly crunchy — hey again, Captain Crunch — nuts might pose a risk to co-workers with food allergies. But they can be an excellent energy-boosting work snack, too. Just try to be aware of any allergies in the office if you do bring nuts or nut butter, eat away from your co-workers, and always clean up after yourself.

Additional reporting by Sienna Beard.

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