Posted by: Hil | July 30, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake


Today, the office decided to surprise the departing summer interns with a cake as a way to say thank you.  Sweet, no?  I have never been a cake fan, and I dislike sugary grocery store-type cakes quite a bit, but I was extremely touched that the office thought of us.  I have a general rule of never eating desserts that I don’t like, but I make an exception for things like someone surprising me with a thank you cake.  So I took the piece that was handed to me with a smile and took a few small bites in between snapping photos of the festivities and sipping my beverage.  I was prepared to eat more of my piece, but pretty soon the festivities dispersed and everyone took their cake slices back to their offices to get more work done.  (That’s attorneys for you.)  I honestly didn’t end up having to eat more than a bite or so more than is pictured above.

It amazes me how occasions like this always seem to bring out such rude behavior.  A male superior pointedly commented that my piece of cake was awfully small.  One intern started talking about how he was watching his weight and started teasing me and another female intern about the amount of cake we were eating. One of the other interns did take a piece of cake, but she made a big fuss about how she hated frosting.  When I went back though the pictures of the day, I found one of her making a huge face as she lifted a miniscule bite of cake to her mouth!  (I was this close to posting the picture because her face was so priceless, but my better nature won out.)

Seriously, people! 

Hil’s commandments of office parties

  1. If thou art the guest of honor, thou shalt happily and appreciatively eat what is offered to thee.  This is an extension of my personal rule that it is rude to refuse food that has been prepared specifically for you.  Even if you don’t appreciate the food, think about your appreciation for the people who took the time to make/acquire it for you.  Note that this does not mean that you have to eat a huge amount.  It’s fine to eat a small amount and thank everyone sincerely for thinking of you.
  2. If thou art not the guest of honor, thou shalt either accept food graciously or decline politely.  This means no making faces at the food.
  3. Thou shalt participate in the party.  No behaving as though parties with cheap sugary cake are beneath you.  Smile, interact, and engage.  If you aren’t eating, you can still talk, take pictures, and mingle.
  4. Thou shalt not comment on the amount that anyone else is eating.
  5. Thou shalt not discuss weight, calories, health, or thy distaste for sweets or frosting.  This includes loudly and repeatedly demanding a small piece.  You can ask once, but if the piece that is offered to you still isn’t to your liking, please don’t hold up the line while you protest that a succession of cake pieces are still too big for you.  If you don’t want it all, just don’t finish your piece.
  6. Thou shalt not dignify rude comments with a response.  If someone makes a snide remark about what you or anyone else is eating, ignore them.  Just start talking about something else.  They probably won’t push it.


My lunch and snacks for the day were pretty typical:  Dr. McDougall’s split pea and barley soup, dried apple rings and pistachios, low fat string cheese, a small apple and a banana.




  1. oh GOD it is so infuriating when people say these kind of things… i absolutely hate it if someone comments on what/how much i’m eating, unless it’s out of curiosity or interest! it’s just so unnecessary. and i agree with you about graciously accepting, too – it’s just like being given a gift of any other kind, you wouldn’t unwrap it and then start complaining about it!

  2. First of all, your lunch looks fabulous. Pistachios and apple rings? Yum-O!

    And you are officially my idol. Food etiquette is something I am very dedicated to- because I think people’s comments and actions surrounding foods can really affect others. Imagine if someone in your office had an eating disorder? She would probably go off the deep end after that cake fiasco. Kudos to you for staying classy and realizing that it is much better to have a couple bites of something that is not the best than to make an OBNOXIOUS big deal out of cake and draw attention to yourself or your diet.

    GOD BLESS YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Finally, I really really wish that I didn’t LOVE those transfatty supermarket cakes but I love them so much. The buttery cake? The sickeningly sweet frosting? Heaven…………..

  3. […] Blueberryhil wrote a post that made me so incredibly happy tonight I had to share it with you all!  She […]

  4. This post is really spot on. I totally agree with Little Black Dress on this one as well. I just don’t get why people who are not family or close friends (even then, it’s annoying, but still at least they can reasonably be interested) find it acceptable to comment so freely on other people’s food choices. It’s so strange.

    I don’t like those cakes either, so I rarely eat them, but usually take them to be polite/not draw attention to myself. The cakes are related to a celebratory/office tradition, not me and my preferences.

  5. I completely agree with you and the other posters. I have never understood why people are so obsessed with commenting. Perhaps it’s their own self-consciousness and faults that are truly coming out. Regardless, it’s annoying, and fairly deserving of a “mind your own business.” If ever watching my weight, the LAST thing I tell people is that I’m on a diet because then, the comments become more pronounced. It’s virtually a scientific fact.

    As a sidenote, I hate storebought cake. After two bites, and this sounds really weird, my cheeks get tingly and cold, and so uncomfortable. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.

  6. I love this post!!! I go through this all the time. There is always food around and I do not want to eat it. I would much rather spend those cals on something I am craving, not a store bought cake or some donuts.

    And now I am adding your site to my daily read because this article (and your writing style) has me hooked!

    Now if I only had more time today so that I could read back through a bunch of your old post and catch myself up. Alas, that will have to wait for another day.


  7. I’m glad you all enjoyed the post, and welcome to new readers who are here via Little Black Dress’s link. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who has dealt with these issues!

    A follow-up post on dealing with nosy people will be coming soon.

  8. AMEN!

    Family events are the same way for me. When we all gather, they will insist (by insist I mean actually put onto my plate) extra helpings of food. comment on my food, etc.

    When others can be so rude, it really kills the event. I say everyone should abide by your rules of etiquette!

  9. VERY well-stated!!

  10. […] with the Food Rudes My post about office party etiquette seems to have resonated with a lot of people.  Apparently I’m not the only one who has delt […]

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