A less-than-ideal flavor profile
"I was a kid in Houston, Texas. There's a neighborhood family burger joint called Pappy's. I was there with mom, sister, evil stepfather, maybe a stepbrother. Normally, if I was allowed to order a milkshake, I went for chocolate. This time, though, I thought I would go wild and order a strawberry milkshake.
"When I got it, it tasted super funky. Wretched. Disgusting. I tried to tell my mom but my jerk stepfather was all, 'You ordered it, you have to drink it.' I tried. I kept trying. I would take almost-fake barely sips and whimper a little, trying not to vomit. The constant refrain was, 'You ordered it, you have to drink it.'
"Finally, my mom took pity on me and tried a sip. She thought it was pretty funky, too, so she convinced the stepfather to try it, and then he was all too willing to send it back.
"Turns out, they kept the strawberry mix and Bloody Mary mix in the same type of containers, stored right next to one another. I was drinking a delicious BLOODY MARY MILKSHAKE. Wrap your head around that deliciousness." -- Aly Levesceau
Quadruple the sauce
"For a few summers during college, I delivered pizza for a local chain in Portland. All employees were cross-trained in all aspects of the job, so I would take orders and make pizzas when deliveries were slow. A guy called in one day when I was taking orders and asked specifically for 'quadruple sauce.' We didn't really do quadruple anything, so I put 'extra sauce' on the order and we made it, delivered it, no problem.
"He called back a week later and I once again took the call. He again asked for quadruple sauce, and since I recognized him as the same guy, I asked how the previous week's pizza was. He responded, 'There wasn't enough sauce. However much sauce you normally put on, I want four times as much.'
"It was a slow day at the restaurant, so I ended up making his pizza as well. Now, the normal amount of sauce for a large pizza at this restaurant was exactly one ladleful of sauce. I decide to just go for it and put on four ladles of sauce -- it ended up as a giant pool of sauce. Six minutes later it came out of the oven and I could just see the toppings were cooked just fine, but were swimming on top of this sauce lake. I went to cut it and it made an awful wet noise, but it stayed intact enough, so I just kinda shrugged and let what was gonna happen, happen.
"It wasn't my delivery, so somebody else went out and delivered it. A couple hours later, the guy called back. He told me it was the best pizza he'd ever gotten, so I added a note in his profile to the effect of 'seriously wants 4x sauce.'
"He started tipping extremely well after that, so from then on, all the drivers would get really excited when Sauce Man would call back and ask for his Sauce Pool Pizzas." -- Nathan Gettridge
Those are not interchangeable
"The summer before college, I worked at Hardee's (which was bought out by Carl's Jr). I prided myself on being an EXCELLENT employee, and worked very hard for my $4.50 an hour (yes, I am old).
"Since I was SUCH an excellent employee, I would run my butt off being very efficient at every task and was often trusted with tricky tasks. One day, it was particularly busy, and the manager asked me to run back and get more vanilla shake mix out of the walk-in.
"I pause here to say that at that time (and may still), Hardee's made fried chicken and biscuits from scratch. They used tons of buttermilk. The buttermilk came in a large plastic bag that had a single green stripe.
"For some reason, the vanilla shake mix also came in a large plastic bag, but it did not have a green stripe. In my hurry, I grabbed the first plastic bag with a white mixture I saw. I ran back, and put the mixture in the shake machine.
"Twenty minutes, and many vanilla milkshakes served, a customer walked up, saying her vanilla milkshake tasted 'off.' My manager took one sniff and, with an amazing amount of control, turned to me and asked, 'Did you accidentally grab buttermilk, by any chance?'
"The poor guy had to completely take apart the shake machine during the lunch rush and clean it out completely. All the while, customers were asking for vanilla shakes, and I had to explain how I made buttermilk shakes.
"I was never allowed near the shake machine again." -- Gloria Langway
"I was getting a cup of coffee at a national sandwich chain in Tacoma, Washington. When they served it, I noticed that it looked sort of greasy. I figured they didn't manage to get all the oil or grease out of the pot when it was washed or something, and didn't think much about it. When I tasted it, it was a little bland, and sort of off.
"After savoring the flavor for a bit, it occurred to me that they had served me a cup of French dip juice." -- Len Saunders
Well, that was unexpected
"My brother and I live in a town that's at the end of the line for one of the LIRR lines (NYC to Long Island commuter trains), and a lot of drunk people end up at our town because our line is the only one that doesn't transfer over at Jamaica. Across from the station, there's a 24-hour Dunkin' Donuts.
"Last year, my brother was working there while saving up for college. One Thursday morning around 4am, this strung-out-looking guy waddles into the store and demands a coffee. My brother asks what he wants in it, a totally normal question.
"The dude asks for an egg in his coffee, and my brother rightly questions this, because who asks for an egg in their coffee? The guy repeats his order as if it's the most normal thing in the world. [Editor’s Note: People insisting their insane food preferences are totally normal is my favorite thing about Not Supposed to Eat That stories.] Not really sure what to do, my brother tells the guy that if he wants an egg in his coffee, he's going to have to dismantle a breakfast sandwich and charge him for it.
"'Whatever,' the guy says, 'Just give me an egg in my coffee!' So my brother sticks the frozen egg patty thing into a cup of coffee and it immediately disintegrates. Strung-out dude calls him a pussy and demands it redone. My brother tries again, same results, and then tries a third time, nuking the patty first.
"Ten minutes later, the guy's apparently satisfied. When he takes a sip, though, he throws the drink at the wall and runs out. My brother leaves the store to go see just where the dude was heading, and he just ran off into the distance, apparently.
"My brother quit the next week." -- Irina Blake
The OG sandwich monstrosity
"I may have killed a woman with a sandwich when I was working at Subway.
"A security guard for the strip mall I worked at came in during a slow stretch in the afternoon, and was the only person in the store. I'd served her a few times before, but today was different.
"You see, Subway had recently started one of their brief BBQ rib promotions, and this lady needed in on that sweet pork action. She ordered a foot-long double-meat rib/triple-cheese/triple-bacon sandwich on white, no veggies, with half of a bottle of mayonnaise. To explain this sandwich:
- Four patties of BBQ pork
- 12 slices of cheese
- 12 strips of bacon
- ½ cup of mayonnaise
"It was approximately 2,900 calories of sandwich, composed of 230g of fat, 405mg of cholesterol, 5,200mg of sodium, and 26g of sugar. This was back in the year 2000, before the BK Stackers and KFC Double Downs had become commonplace, and this creation is still the worst 'food' item I've ever seen. My math is also based on the 2015 recipes and nutritional information, and not from 15 years ago, so it might have been even worse back then.
"After assembly, and after it was wrapped up and the paper was starting to become translucent from the grease oozing out of this monstrosity, she asked me to microwave it for 60 seconds. What emerged from the microwave was a warm, limp, soggy mess that felt like poorly set Jell-O in my hand.
"The woman paid and left, and I was left wondering if I should have denied her service based solely on her order. Fears that she may not have survived the sandwich were made worse by the fact that I never saw her in the store or at the strip mall ever again." -- Cullen O’Neil
Talk about cheeseheads!
"I volunteer at a concession stand for Lambeau Field. This past year, on the last game of the season, I had the weirdest customer experience my stand has probably ever seen.
"It's December in an outdoor stadium, a little bit before the game, so the lines are maybe one or two deep, which means that we're busy, but not overly so, like we will be right before the game or at halftime. I get a group of three late-30-somethings, maybe a little drunk, that want five soft pretzels between the three of them. In our menu, you get a free little souffle cup of cheese with your pretzel, which is enough for most people, but these fine folks insist that they will need more cheese. 'How much more?' I ask, readying myself for probably telling them it'd be an extra charge.
"At this point, the ringleader says, 'How much for a G mug of cheese?' I wonder what he means, when he points to the travel mugs that have a G logo printed on them. Ordinarily, these are filled with hot cocoa or coffee, but I figure since the cheese is non-alcoholic and the customer is asking, what's the harm? I tell him the price (eight bucks) and he immediately replies with 'Gimme two of them!' with his friends agreeing loudly. OK, they must really love our liquid cheese. A friend of mine comes over and asks me if I can help undo something on his register, and I say sure, but you gotta help me fill these two thermal mugs with cheese first. He gives me that 'what?' look, when the ringleader goes, 'Yeah, fill 'em to the top!' My friend shrugs and we start filling these cups with cheese.
"We get the first one filled, and I start filling the second one, so my friend hands him the first one with the lid off so he can dunk his pretzel. As I'm about to ask if he wants more pretzel to go with his cheese, I look and see this guy drinking the cheese straight from the mug. I don't say a word, just finish filling the second mug, which this guy was only too happy to drink from as well.
"Him and his two friends just wander off like this is the normal thing everyone does, and I have to excuse myself to go fix a register while I process what the hell I just saw." -- Blair Barnard
Do you have a restaurant, home-cooking, or any other food-adjacent story you’d like to see appear in Off the Menu (on ANY subject, not just this one)? Please email WilyUbertrout@gmail.com with “Off the Menu” in the subject line (or you can find me on Twitter: @EyePatchGuy). Submissions are always welcome!
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