What A Bowl By Your Desk Says About You

11.22.2010 | 6:34 am

There’s a guy where I work who keeps some candy in his office. And by “some candy,” I mean that he has a file cabinet (and no, I don’t mean a drawer in his cabinet, I mean the whole freaking cabinet)  full of giant bags of fun-size candy bars, along with a plastic tub full of Twizzlers. And another one full of cashews. And yet another with York Peppermint Patties.

Now, on one hand, this guy is one of the greatest guys in the office. He’s smart, he’s nice, he gets tons of work done, and — this is important — he shares.

On the other hand, this guy just totally pisses me off.

Why? Ha. As if you need to ask.

He pisses me off because this guy — in spite of this enormous quantity of junk food he’s got within arm’s reach — has what I would estimate to be 0.0001% body fat.

How is that possible? There can be only three possible explanations:

  • He has a crazy-high metabolism, and no matter how much junk he eats, he doesn’t get fat.
  • He self discipline, and is able to eat his junk food in moderation.
  • He just doesn’t feel a compulsion to — in the event that food is within his grasp — eat and eat and eat until there is no food there anymore.

Which of these is the case for my co-worker? Does it even matter? The important thing is that the guy has a cubic meter of junk food, and is nevertheless thin.

And, By Way of Contrast, There’s Me

I, on the other hand, do not have a file cabinet full of candy at work. Now, I do have a bowl at my desk where candy could go, should I choose to bring some. But it’s almost always a sad, lonely, empty bowl, with no candy at all (though if you bury your nose in the bowl, you may be able to catch a whiff of the candy that most recently — albeit extremely temporarily — occupied the bowl).

Why no candy in my candy bowl? Because of the following two reasons:

  1. I brought candy in in the morning, intending to share it, but, after deciding I would eat one or two myself, closed the door to my office and gorged until nothing remained but a pile of fun-sized wrappers.
  2. I did not bring candy in, because I know myself well enough to realize that it would not survive the hour.

What A Bowl (Or Lack Thereof) By Your Desk Says About You

So my co-worker and I occupy near-opposite ends of the office candy spectrum. He has plenty and is glad to share. I either have no candy, or am well on my way to that state.

Of course, the bowl of candy in the office is a widespread phenomenon. What that bowl says about you, however, has thus far remain unexplored.

I shall now correct that oversight.

  • If you have a bowl full of candy that remains essentially unchanged over a period of months, you can be confident that, first of all, your candy sucks. Secondly, you can be confident that there is something about you or your office that is preventing your co-workers from coming over and eating your candy. Perhaps it’s that your office smells bad (if you’re a bike commuter, this is the most likely possibility). Or just maybe — if you’re the manager — it’s because they know that if they come into your office, you’ll give them extra work, and the candy isn’t worth the risk.
  • If you have a bowl full of unwrapped candy, such as M&Ms, you have high confidence in your co-workers’ propensity to wash their hands reasonably frequently. Or maybe it means that you don’t have any such confidence, and by putting out loose candy, you figure you’ll give your willpower a boost.
  • If you have a bowl full of different candy pretty much every day of the week, It means you work in a high-traffic area. Or that you’re really popular. Or that you have no willpower and eat all the candy yourself.
  • If you have a bowl full of full-sized chocolate bars, you’re trying too hard. People can tell you’re trying to lure them into your office. Also, you’re trying to make other people gain weight, to offset your own.
  • If you have no bowl, you are telling the world that you have no willpower, that any food near you will be eaten. You are saying, in effect, “Not only do I not trust myself to not eat snacks in my general vicinity, but you would be well advised to hide any snacks of your own.”

It’s also possible, I suppose, that you have a bowl full of healthy snacks.

In which case I have nothing to say to you.


  1. Comment by Rob L | 11.22.2010 | 6:46 am

    Those candy bringing jerks suck! And they’re cousin, the guy who brings in a package or two of Oreo’s every other week! GRRR!

  2. Comment by Mary from NC | 11.22.2010 | 6:48 am

    I don’t have a bowl in my office, I’d be like you and gobble it all up. I do, however, buy chocolate and leave in someone else’s bowl. I head over to her office every day for one piece. It keeps me from eating it all, spreads the calories to others in my office and promotes dialogue as everyone comes to her office to get their ‘fix’ at about the same time each day.

  3. Comment by Karla | 11.22.2010 | 7:03 am

    In the UK, we all seem to work in open plan offices, so no office here, but I do occasionally bring in candy (usually after Halloween, when there’s often a glut from my overoptimistic candy buying left over from the 6 trick-or-treaters we actually get) or Christmas, or if I get a shipment of American candy from relatives in the States. Brits love Candy Corn, by the way.

    I never, however, leave the candy on my own desk. I drop it on the next load of desks, (quickly snatching my hands away, before I lose a finger) near the candy fanatics, who fall on it like jackals on a carcass.

    I will happily partake of THEIR candy, however, because “recent studies show” that candy that someone else brings in has no calories.

  4. Comment by Franky | 11.22.2010 | 7:53 am

    Thanks to my boss (a middle-aged Italian lady) some baked goods or homemade candy magically appear, mostly on Monday mornings, right next to my cubicle. There is no possible way to avoid the lure, I’m only human after all.

  5. Comment by Jake | 11.22.2010 | 8:01 am

    I had a bowl, it was a fried tortilla. I ate it.

  6. Comment by Miles Archer | 11.22.2010 | 8:01 am

    I have glass jar commemorating a work event that was given to me full of M&Ms. This was some months ago. It is still full of M&Ms. Unless my daughter comes to visit soon, I’m going to have a bowl of petrified M&Ms.

    Most people in my office have an empty glass jar.

  7. Comment by Paul Guyot | 11.22.2010 | 8:02 am

    I am hijacking this thread for a moment…

    Saturday I did my first ever Century ride (first ride in a group). The 109-mile El Tour de Tucson. I wore my Fatty colors. It was awful and less than 20 miles in I was thinking of quitting way before the end.

    Then two other Team Fatty members rolled up alongside me. They had me get on their wheel and they pulled me back to recovery – both physically and emotionally.

    They didn’t know me other than my jersey made me a family member and I wouldn’t have done it without them.

    So, to Team Fatty #3407 and the other TF – on the tiny-wheeled bike – THANK YOU.

    You made me want to Fight Like Susan and I got through it.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled comments.

    First, congrats on finishing your first Century, Paul. That’s a big deal, especially cuz you finished even though you were suffering right from the beginning.

    Second, I second the thanks you give to the Good Samaritan Team Fatty riders who helped you out.

    I often think about the fact that I have better readers than I deserve. – FC

  8. Comment by Sue | 11.22.2010 | 8:07 am

    I have absolutely no will power. And some lovely vindictive person keeps stocking the candy jar in our mailroom – therefore I can’t check my mail. Tough luck to the person who tries to interoffice something to this designer – not happening.

    I have a fruit bowl on my desk.

  9. Comment by Flatoutjim | 11.22.2010 | 8:13 am

    Which office is yours again?

  10. Comment by Dave | 11.22.2010 | 9:09 am

    While I do not have confidence that my co-workers wash their hands regularly, the problem is of course that the greatest candy EVER, Candy Corn, does not come wrapped. Therefore I put myself at risk of some unknown illenss every year between October first and Thankgiving because the lady down the hall serves only Candy Corn for two months straight.

  11. Comment by Squirrelhead | 11.22.2010 | 9:09 am

    I think your co-worker is secretly an evil genius. He has built up a massive arsenal of candy (seriously? An entire file cabinet? Compensating for something?)that he pushes out to the masses all the while not eating one bite himself. This way he can have no body fat while he sabotages everyone else in the office. He is a clever one for sure. You should sneak into his office and switch his file cabinets for one that you have the key to and lock it up.

  12. Comment by Squirrelhead | 11.22.2010 | 9:11 am

    Oh and congrats Paul!! I haven’t done a century ride yet but I am planning to do it next year. I hope the the Team Fatty angels come to help me get through it as well.

  13. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 11.22.2010 | 9:26 am

    I think your co-worker is actually 20% or more body fat and is somehow hiding it. Maybe his internal organs have shrunk to make room for the fat. So you’re actually much leaner than he is.

  14. Comment by NYCCarlos | 11.22.2010 | 9:45 am

    Waiting for MattC to chime in about him being the guy with all the candy at his office… :-P

  15. Comment by Barbara | 11.22.2010 | 9:56 am

    The first question I have is how did your co-worker manage to come into possession of a whole extra file cabinet that he can devote to candy? I do have a food drawer (filled with healthy snacks, of course) but file space is at a premium in our office.

    Agree that we have to hate this guy.

    I also felt the need to grab a Werthers from my own candy bowl as I read this post. I only stock hard candy because it doesn’t seem to cause the kind of nonstop eating that chocolate does.

    The people I don’t understand are the ones who buy a box of thin mint Girl Scout cookies, open them, eat one, and leave the box on their desk to share – and at the end of the day there are still cookies left! They would last about 10 minutes on my desk – and I’m not talking about my co-workers eating them.

    And off topic… the NYT this Sunday had a featured wedding story about 2 elite cyclists who were friends and ended up getting married less than a year after his wife died of breast cancer, how his team raised a lot of money for Livestrong (but not as much as TF). I thought I was having a deja-vu, but neither of them has a blog.

  16. Comment by Franky | 11.22.2010 | 10:11 am

    Here is the link to the story:

  17. Comment by Matt | 11.22.2010 | 10:55 am

    Hahaha, great post.

  18. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.22.2010 | 11:41 am

    We have an evil book keeper. She bakes all the time. She buys candy frequently. She brings them over to my side of the office and puts them on the counter next to the water cooler.

    I eat them. The only reason I do not eat ALL of them is beacuse there are others intent on eating all of them as well. As an earlier commenter so aptly put it: “..like jackals on a carcass.

    And, she is losing weight.

  19. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.22.2010 | 11:42 am

    I used to keep chocolate in my lower left desk drawer.

    But, when i remembered about it and checked for it, it was never there.

  20. Comment by Geo | 11.22.2010 | 11:45 am

    When I worked in an office I had a candy bowl to share (yeah right) but have no willpower so I stopped that and instead ventured to a co-workers candy jar or another’s jelly bean dispenser for constant snack fixes. I figure I burned calories making the walk but truth is I burned 1-2 and ingested 80-100 each time.

    Now I work at home so it’s impossible to avoid any spare snacks around the pantry.

    And I find it funny that on the blog right below your comment on people with healthy snacks there appeared an ad for a healthy cereal.

  21. Comment by Kathy McElhaney | 11.22.2010 | 11:56 am

    I had a candy bowl at one time. I would eat SOME, but it seemed to go down A LOT while I was away from my desk. Found my Manager helping herself to handfuls. “I’m taking them to a meeting.” Hello? You make a lot more than me and you expect me to buy the candy to make you look good in meetings?? I no longer work for the mooch.

  22. Comment by Sam Spade | 11.22.2010 | 12:22 pm

    @ Miles Archer (8:01 a.m.)

    You had a work event that was full of M&Ms?
    Oh wait, i see. You had a glass jar full of M&Ms given to you to commemorate a work event.

  23. Comment by Philly Jen | 11.22.2010 | 12:29 pm

    @Barbara and Franky: That would be Team Colleen from Livestrong Austin 2009 — they were flat-out amazing, and all over the course in a very moving show of strength.

    It was also great to see Team Colleen competing at the women’s pro race at the Liberty Classic in Philly this year. Team Colleen rocks!

  24. Comment by RANTWICK | 11.22.2010 | 12:34 pm

    No bowl here. Same reason. Side note: don’t quit smoking on Nov 1. My kids’ halloween bags were decimated by an unapologetic thief in the night.

  25. Comment by roan | 11.22.2010 | 12:35 pm

    I need one of those dispensers that torment little kids and cause anger in their parents. It takes quarters only, but I would issue tokens of different colors assigned to co-workers. Then I could track usage by person. Of course I would have a complete supply of the different colors to disguise my actual weakness.
    Takes care of the hand washing problem too. Just need to wipe off the crank once in awhile.

  26. Comment by tim joe | 11.22.2010 | 12:56 pm

    I keep a cooler on my desk, which is actually a tailgate. Not all Clydes work in offices.

    Paul! Good on ya for your big ride and for mentioning your buddies.

  27. Comment by KanyonKris | 11.22.2010 | 1:14 pm

    I ate pistachios from my bowl while I read your post. BTW, your commentary on that river in Egypt was fascinating.

  28. Comment by Anne | 11.22.2010 | 2:15 pm

    Great post. I keep a bowl filled with fruits on my desk. Try to eat healthy :)

    Can not have candy in my office, except chocolates. Not a big of chocolate, but anything else disappear fast and I am one of the annoying people with a crazy-high metabolism, so I can eat as much as I want without gaining weight.

  29. Comment by Roses | 11.22.2010 | 2:31 pm

    My co-worker would bring in candy for us to eat while she was pregnant so that we would gain as much if not more weight that she did. She out right admitted that was her evil plot.

  30. Comment by stuckinmypedals | 11.22.2010 | 3:29 pm

    I am a jackal that would eat all the candy in my candy bowl if given the opportunity. My husband, who has the gift of high metabolism, has an entire mini fridge in his office stocked with candy and other goodies. I don’t know how he does it!

  31. Comment by cece | 11.22.2010 | 3:34 pm

    We have an alarm system at our office that can lock you in if you do not have the right code to get out…if you come in over the weekend. We have a joke in our office that is someone gets locked in over the weekend that they could survive for days on the candy that people have stored in their jars!

  32. Comment by Dan | 11.22.2010 | 6:32 pm

    No bowl on my desk – If its there it must be eaten!

  33. Comment by bronsont | 11.22.2010 | 8:20 pm

    Has bowl, keeps it stocked, but with sugar free Crystal Light hard candies :-) Best of both worlds!

  34. Comment by pokeyspence | 11.22.2010 | 10:38 pm

    I work with nurses who always have potluck’s, trail mix, cinnamon rolls, and more around. I am working hard to lose wt, but I am weak and I love to eat. I need to lose a few more pounds by spring so I can come out of hibernation light and fleet footed not the lumbering oaf I typically am. Hoping to do my first Marathon and Century next year in preparation for an Iron Man in 2012.

  35. Comment by AK Chick | 11.23.2010 | 12:28 am

    I have no bowl. I also have no office. I have a cubicle. I also have no willpower, hence no bowl. Coworkers have bowls. With candy. I do partake. :)

    Thank you to Franky for the link on the married couple. That is so awesome. And kinda weird! :)

  36. Comment by Cold in Seattle | 11.23.2010 | 12:41 am

    I don’t have a file cabinet full of candy. But I do have a shelf reserved for bags of it. I also have a bowl. It’s filled with delicious candy adored by all co-workers who find excuses to visit me. But it’s a very strategic set of delicious candy. It’s the kind that everyone else loves and I don’t. Kit Kats and Nestle Crunch are not allowed in my candy bowl. Everything else is welcome!

    By the way, there’s a guy that keeps apples in his bowl. No one ever visits him.

  37. Comment by Niall in Brisbane | 11.23.2010 | 3:31 am

    I used to have a big cookie jar shaped like a cop where you pushed back on his head to reach in and get cookies or, as it came to pass, candy (or as we call them here, lollies). Each time you pushed the head back ‘the cop’ would shout, “STOP, MOVE AWAY FROM THE COOKIE JAR”. It had no effect. That is why I got to nearly 100kg and why I don’t have the jar any more. Or maybe that was because my boss got cranky with the cop yelling at everyone to move away from the cookie jar? On second thoughts he would have been more mad with there being no cookies or candy left for him. Anyway there is no more jar and I way 10kg less. I would weigh even less but I haven’t found a way to avoid wine, beer, rum, whisky and corn chips. A great shame I am not allowed to keep bowls of them around my desk.

  38. Comment by MikeL | 11.23.2010 | 7:03 am

    In my office we have the crawlers. They wind their way from cubicle to cubicle through the day looking for candy and munchies. On Fridays they go trolling through the building looking for the special events with food. They remind me of Wally in Dilbert with about as much productivity.

  39. Comment by Richard | 11.23.2010 | 7:59 pm

    Use by/Best before dates – I am a stickler for them. Can’t let things gets too close to code – so I eat/drink them.

    That’s my reason and I am sticking to it.

  40. Comment by Jack | 04.26.2011 | 7:08 pm

    I think these jerks who have candy bowls are evil. Leaving out candy around people trying to lose weight is like leaving a refrigerator full of booze around the Betty Ford Clinic. Or it’s like leaving a bowl of crack around coke fiends. I typically leave after this person in the evening, so I empty the bowl in the trash every night before I leave. Maybe I can hit them where it hurts the most; in the wallet.


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