9 Clever Products That Will Protect Your Lunch From Food Thieves

iStock.com/ilbusca
iStock.com/ilbusca

It’s happened to all of us: You’ve been thinking about lunch all morning and when it’s finally time to eat, you realize that your meal has been stolen by one of your co-workers. Food theft is no joke and should not be taken lightly. Keep your edibles safe from your thieving colleagues with these protective products.

1. Fred E.M.T. (Emergency Meal Transport) Insulated Lunch Tote


Fred, Amazon

No one is going to want to steal an organ—after all, those can’t be properly cooked in the break room microwave. The bag is foam-insulated to keep your kidney (or sandwich) cold. Great for anyone who doesn't work at a hospital.

Buy it on Amazon for $20 or at these other retailers:

2. Accoutrements Crime Scene Sandwich Bags

Plastic baggies with yellow "crime scene tape" printed on them

Accoutrements, Amazon

This set of 10 plastic baggies comes with either police tape or quarantined banners. If they don't succeed at thwarting thieves, you may to have to close off the kitchenette with real crime scene tape while you dust for prints.

Buy it on Amazon for $5 or at these other retailers:

3. Roach Bag Clips

A roach-shaped bag clip on a bag of snacks

Orwill, Amazon

If making your lunch look like a crime scene doesn’t work, try making it look infested. These bag clips are designed to look like everyone’s least favorite mealtime companion: the cockroach. Stick them on or in your snack bags to deter even the most strong-stomached lunch thieves.

Buy it on Amazon for $8 per pack of four.

4. Forum Novelties Moldy Sandwich Bags

A novelty sandwich bag designed to look like a piece of bread is moldy and cockroach-infested

Forum Novelties, Amazon

These bags take it a step further with fake mold and a cockroach. Even if it doesn’t trick anyone, it’s certain to ruin their appetite. There are only four bags per pack, so use them wisely—and be sure to check your food for real mold before use.

Buy it on Amazon for $5 or at these other retailers:

5. Fred Already Been Chewed Cookie Cutters

Gingerbread man cookies formed to look like they've had bites taken out of them
Fred

Make your sneaky co-worker believe that someone beat them to the punch by using these cookie cutters, which make it look like these tasty treats have already been snacked on. The three gingerbread man molds each have a bite mark shape aimed at different parts of their bodies. The package even comes a gingerbread recipe.

Buy it on eBay for $10.

6. It's Not Your Lunch Locking Lunch Bag

This black bag gets straight to the point: “It’s not your lunch.” If the harsh (but valid) statement isn’t enough to rattle your co-workers, the lock will do the trick. The 8-inch-tall bag is insulated to keep your meals at the right temperature, but the main attraction is the hunk of metal standing between food thieves and your delicious pre-bitten cookies.

Buy it on It's Not Your Store for $20 and up.

7. CaseOrama Stained Mug

A mug that appears stained with coffee and lipstick

CaseOrama, Amazon

No one wants to wash other people’s dishes, so this dirty mug will be strictly off limits to everyone but you. The design features what looks like spilled coffee and lipstick on the rim, so it appears to have been heavily used. Only you will know better. It’s dishwasher safe, so you can get it really clean, despite its appearance.

Buy it on Amazon for $19.

8. Cooluli Portable Mini Fridge

A mini portable fridge open to reveal apples, vegetables, and cans of soda

Cooluli, Amazon

If people won’t stop taking your stuff out of the fridge, it's time to get your own. This portable mini fridge, complete with removable shelves, is big enough to hold up to 12 cans of soda. It can be plugged into a regular outlet or even a car cigarette lighter (we did say portable) and runs more quietly than most computer fans, according to Amazon reviewers.

Buy it on Amazon for $90 or at these other retailers (potentially in different colors):

9. Fridge Safe Box Locker

A small locked cage designed to hold lunches in a fridge

5Star Super Deals, Walmart

If none of these other tricks work, you can get even more aggressive. Nothing says “stay away from my lunch” quite like a plastic food cage with a combination lock. The 12-inch-long locker comes with a handle so you can take it to and from work, and if, in the worst case scenario, your co-worker cracks the code and steals your yogurt, at least you'll know they've earned it.

Buy it at Walmart for $16.

A version of this article first ran in 2016.

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The Bird or Bunny Optical Illusion Could Have You Second-Guessing Your Eyesight

jamesvancouver/iStock via Getty Images
jamesvancouver/iStock via Getty Images

The internet can't resist a mind-bending illusion. Some of the most popular ones to go viral feature content that can be interpreted two ways: The infamous dress ignited a web-wide controversy over whether it was black and blue or white and gold, and the "yanny or laurel" audio clip messed with people's ears instead of their eyes. The latest illusion the internet can't agree on is a video of someone petting a raven—or is it a rabbit? Watch the clip below and decide for yourself.

Paige Davis, the curator of bird training at the World Bird Sanctuary, shared this video of a white-necked raven more than two years ago. A biological psychiatry researcher named Dan Quintana recently found the clip on Imgur's Twitter account and tweeted it with the caption: "Rabbits love getting stroked on their nose."

"By first directing the viewer's attention to the nose, I was trying to distract viewers from the ears/beak, one of the clear giveaways that this was a video of a raven," Quintana wrote in a blog post.

With its head tilted back, it's easy to mistake the raven's beak for bunny ears and the top of its head for a nose. But a few details—like its translucent nictitating membrane that closes across the eye horizontally—indicate that it's really a bird.

This video is a real-life version of one of the most famous illustrated illusions of all time. Like the raven vs. rabbit clip, this drawing, sketched by American psychologist Joseph Jastrow in 1899, depicts either a duck facing left or a bunny facing right. There is no "right" way to view this illusion: Jastrow drew it to see how fast viewers could switch from one perception to the other.

Even though we know which animal the subject of this latest illusion really is, it still works with Jastrow's test: Watch the clip again and see if you can force your mind to go back and forth between seeing a bird and a rabbit. After that exercise, here are some more optical illusions to break your brain.

Hard Sell: A History of the Pet Rock

Amazon
Amazon

You may have heard the story of the Pet Rock, the Mexican beach stone that could be purchased in bulk for less than a penny, retailed for $3.95, and made inventor Gary Dahl a millionaire during a kind of novelty gift hysteria in late 1975. But Dahl didn’t really get rich off of the rock.

He got rich off of a cardboard box.

Dahl was working as a freelance advertising copywriter in California that year when, while having drinks at a bar with friends, the conversation turned to the destructive nature of pets. Dogs and cats ruined furniture. Worse, they required constant attention, from being walked to being fed to cleaning up after them. Dahl said that he didn’t have to worry about any of that because he had a “pet rock.”

It was, of course, a joke. And it got a laugh. But Dahl decided there could be more to it than that. He went home and began writing an owner’s manual for this hypothetical pet rock, which detailed how best to handle it, the tricks it could perform (“play dead” being the most popular), and how it could remain a faithful companion due to its “long life span.” The gag was not so much the rock itself but the way it was presented. In addition to the manual, Dahl conceived of a cardboard box with air holes that resembled the kind used by pet shops. It also bore a passing resemblance to a McDonald's Happy Meal container.

 

Dahl's motivation in making a serious effort to monetize his pet rock idea was due in large part to his precarious financial situation at the time—he was struggling to keep up with his bills. He recruited George Coakley and John Heagerty, two colleagues, to come on as investors. They both signed on, with Coakley investing $10,000—a not-inconsiderable sum in 1975, especially when the intention was to sell virtually worthless rocks.

The Pet Rock packaging is pictured
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dahl, however, knew what he was marketing. Like chattering teeth, the Hula Hoop, and other fads, the Pet Rock was the beneficiary of good timing. Vietnam had ended but Watergate was still fresh; the country’s mood was slightly downcast, and Dahl believed people would see the inane nature of the Pet Rock and recognize the humor of it. He boxed the rocks with the manual and packed them in excelsior, which may be best known as comic book legend Stan Lee’s catchphrase but also means a softwood shaving pile meant for protecting fragile items. The rocks were purchased from a local sand and gravel company, which sourced them from Mexico’s Rosarita Beach. Dahl debuted the rock at a gift show in San Francisco in August of 1975, then waited for a reaction.

He got one. People understood the appeal right away and he began taking orders. Neiman Marcus wanted 1000 rocks. Bloomingdale’s later signed on. Newsweek did a story with a picture, which spread the word. Dahl had retail and media credibility for what was superficially a nonsense product. His bar joke was turning into a national phenomenon.

When the holiday season arrived, Dahl estimated he was selling up to 100,000 Pet Rocks a day. Ultimately, he would sell between 1.3 and 1.5 million of them within a period of just a few months. Coakley made $200,000 back on his initial $10,000 investment. Dahl gifted both Coakley and Heagerty with Mercedes. Making 95 cents in profit on each Pet Rock sold, Dahl earned over $1 million. He launched his own firm, Rock Bottom Productions, which was itself another joke. “You’ve reached Rock Bottom” is how the receptionist answered their phone.

 

The fad did not last—by definition, they’re not designed to—but Dahl was satisfied. His two investors were not; they "claimed they had received too small a share of the profits" and later sued Dahl for more revenue. After a judgment in the investors' favor, Dahl wrote them a six-figure check.

The Pet Rock is pictured
Amazon

There were attempts to prolong the life of the rock by offering a Bicentennial version in 1976—it had the American flag painted on it—and mail-order college degrees for them. Dahl sold Pet Rock T-shirts and Pet Rock shampoo. There were also copycat gifts, since Dahl could not really patent a rock. (He might have been able to obtain a utility patent because of the rock’s particular purpose as a companion, but he did not.) The humor was transient, however, and people had moved on.

Dahl had other ideas. There was the Official Sand Breeding Kit, which claimed to provide guidance on growing sand, and Canned Earthquake, which consisted of a coffee can that had a wind-up mechanism that caused it to jump around on a table. Neither was particularly successful. Dahl’s real passion, though, was buying and renovating a bar in Los Gatos, which he named Carrie Nation’s Saloon.

This was not without its problems, as people who believed they had the next Pet Rock would often stop by the bar to try and secure an audience with Dahl for his insight. Many times, their idea consisted of packaging bull or elephant excrement. There were also proposals to market a pet stick. Dahl had no patience for these inventors, believing the Pet Rock could not be duplicated. Later, he went back to advertising after taking what he described as an “eight-year vacation” following the success of his project.

The Pet Rock can still be found online, though it’s no longer Dahl’s business. He died in 2015. Of the unsold rocks he had left over at the end of the fad, he was indifferent. If they didn’t sell, he said, he would just use them to repave his driveway.

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