Cupcakes and the Office

avoiding-food-pushers-at-work

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on cupcake and office, but you may also want to check out all of our posts on holiday business etiquette.

How do you politely say no to cupcakes at the office? Reader A has a great question, with shades of “how to stop the food pushers at the office,”  as well as how to adapt to the “snack culture” at a new office, and more. Here’s the Q:

I recently started in a new office, and people love to bring in food and snacks all the time. Trouble is, I don’t like to eat lots of sugary snacks, and, frankly, don’t enjoy flavorless cakes with too much icing. How can I say no without appearing standoffish or snobby?

Well, I wouldn’t include the bit about “flavorless cakes with too much icing.”  Instead, how about: “This looks delicious, but I’m good, thanks.”  or “What beautiful frosting! None for me though.”  or even “I’m not a big snacker, but thank you for offering!”

But there are a lot of etiquette issues in here, of course, and I’m curious to hear what the readers say.  At my BigLaw firm this really was not a problem — people may have put a few snacks (more usually leftovers from catered meetings) in the coffee break room, but no one monitored your intake.  At the smaller offices where I’ve worked, though, people did bring in things, and frequently it was an excuse to gather with your coworkers and socialize for a few minutes, which definitely increases the stress factor in terms of office etiquette, either in terms of not wanting to be rude to whoever made the snack, as well as not wanting to miss out on socializing time with coworkers.  I’m also vaguely remembering stories from commenters where people then use a “no thank you” to opine on your weight/weight loss/lack of extra weight (delightful!), and perhaps even a story from a commenter about someone who took a cupcake to be polite, then immediately trashed the cupcake when she got back to her office, resulting in some confrontation over whether she should have taken/trashed the cupcake.  (Am I crazy? Or perhaps the storyteller had bought special cupcakes for interns and then she found the cupcake in the trash, uneaten, and was hurt?)  So here are a few more thoughts on this:

– If people at your office gather to eat their snacks, join the group if you have time.  Bring coffee or tea if you’d like, or an apple.  If you can, bring snacks that you prefer occasionally (or even snacks that you think they might enjoy).

– Don’t ever feel obligated to eat something or take something because people are bringing it to the office.  I think honesty is always better than a little white lie (and enough “little white lies” will ultimately affect your perceived professionalism and trustworthiness), but I can also see how there may be a singular instance where a little white lie is preferable to a firm “no.”  For example:  “I had the biggest lunch!” or “I think I’m allergic to  _[insert ingredient here]_ ” or “I have to fast for the next few hours for ___.”

– If you do take something with no intention of eating it, don’t trash it at the office.  If something has been purchased explicitly for you (e.g., the commenter’s story of the special cupcake for the intern), don’t trash it — at least not in the office.  Instead, explain that you’re looking forward to eating it later, and then take it home and give it to your roommate/trash it/freeze it for later.  If it’s large enough to share with other people in the office, cut a portion for yourself to “take home,” and then gracefully share it with others in your office — put it on a plate with a note that acknowledges the kindness of the person who gifted you with the food. “Amazing cake by Kat — please feel free to enjoy!”

Readers, what do you think about food at the office — what have been your best ways to avoid eating unwanted food while also being polite?  Is there a “snack culture” in your office?

Pictured: Cupcakes, originally uploaded to Flickr by fiveforefun.

Comments

  1. Anonymous :

    haha no I remember that too. The person like forced a cupcake on someone- but the intern shouldn’t have trashed it either. The commentator was SO MAD if I remember correctly

    • Anonymous :

      I remember that too! It was epic. One of those “moments” in the site’s history.

      • Well, it was pretty obvious that the intern shouldn’t have trashed the cupcake. She should have wrapped it up carefully, tucked it into her Birkin, and then thrown it away once she got home.

        I mean, duh.

  2. All good advice except…don’t bring an apple to eat while everyone else is eating junk food. That’s just …. ugh. I don’t even have a word for it. If the gathering is in the kitchen, just refill your coffee/tea/water/soda/etc. and politely decline the food. Come back in 10 minutes after everyone has dispersed to grab an apple.

    It’s also helpful to arrive at the “party” a few minutes late if you aren’t going to eat. First arrivers are there for the food and will assume you are too. If you really don’t want to eat, hang back while food is being distributed (extra points if you are holding a file and don’t have free hands).

    • I agree. Bringing an apple will either A) make other people feel bad that they’re eating junk food or B) make you look like you’re too “good” for the cake/pie/cupcakes.

      • I don’t see how my choice to eat X affects your enjoyment eating Y unless I make some sort of negative comment about your choice to eat Y or my being better for eating X. That sort of comment would be rude and inappropriate. But if all we’re doing is eating diffrent things, then I don’t see what the problem is. You’re choosing to eat Y, so own it. As my therapist says, when we are upset by normal, non-threatening, non-insulting behaviors in other people, it’s probably because we dislike that trait in ourselves and are upset by seeing someone else act in the way we are trying to suppress.

        I’ll probably get flamed for this comment, but I guess that’s why I am not here much anymore.

        • Anonymous :

          Its the bringing the healthy food to the junk food party. its not like everyone is bringing a bag lunch and K padi is saying dont bring apples. The party is for cake. You bringing an apple to eat instead of cake is obnoxious. its like not only do I not eat cake, I eat this. Like if someone is having a pizza party and you show up with a single portion of salmon instead. If someone brings food to share, dont show up with your own individual portion of something else

        • I think this just shows how insecure we are about our food choices and, relatedly, body image. There’s no reason I should assume that your apple comes with a judgment of my cupcake. But since I’m judging myself for eating it, at least subconsciously, it’s easy to think everyone else is too. So that’s why it might affect others’ enjoyment. As you suggest, it’s their issue, not yours. But I don’t think you can get away with saying “this shouldn’t make you uncomfortable” to other people. So you either eat your apple knowing that it makes some insecure people feel judged, or you don’t bring your apple. Both seem like rational choices to me.

        • I agree with you 100% and I love what your therapist said. I hope you don’t get flamed, but I’m sure you will. Why should I have to not eat my apple so you can feel better about yourself. Eat the cake if you want it. And if you want it, my having an apple should have zero bearing on how you feel about it.

        • +1

        • not my problem :

          Seriously, why does me eating something healthy have anything to do with your choice to eat something unhealthy!? I have done several paleo sugar detoxes and I am will past the point of caring what anybody, anybody, anybody thinks. I am not judging your food choices by not choosing to partake, and I certainly have my own decisions — they’re just usually more delicious than an office cupcake that came from a box!! I’ll continue to enjoy my fruit, thanks. Don’t feel bad if you want to eat something different — and don’t expect me to feel bad because I do.

        • hellskitchen :

          I am with you SFBayA. If you are there to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday or something then the focus should be on celebrating, not on eating. And if it’s just a socializing snack break then you should feel free to eat whatever you want. Plus the apple/cake situation applies to a lot of things… if there’s champagne to celebrate a company win and I can’t drink for health or religious reasons, would it be wrong for me to sip soda or juice. Or if someone brought in something that contains meat and as a vegetarian I choose to bring my own snack, would that be wrong? I don’t see why it would be different for cake/apple. I have seen colleagues bring whatever they are snacking or drinking with them while I was attacking the doughnuts and I didn’t feel like their snacking was a statement on my choice. But perhaps, I have a thicker skin and a natural obliviousness to everyone else when I am going after my afternoon chocolate/sugar fix :-)

        • Houston Attny :

          *Gulp.* Yep, you are right – it’s absolutely my problem, my judgment on myself that I’d ultimately feel with you, healthy, smart SFBayA making the smarter choice to eat an apple when I’m 2/3 through a cupcake and thinking of eating a second one – later – when no one is around. Totally my food issues not yours. (By the way, I’m copying and pasting what you wrote from your therapist – thank you.)

    • LOL yeah, or even worse, celery

    • Why can’t I bring an apple? I want to socialize too, but I can’t eat that cupcake. It will make me sick, as much as I’d like to eat it. Same goes for office pizza parties – I can’t eat that either. Am I not allowed to eat and socialize with everyone else eating and socializing unless I eat the same thing as everyone else? That sucks.

      I was talking recently with a friend who cannot have alcohol, but she wants to participate and be social at happy hours, so to fit in, sometimes she caves and has a drink, fits in, and then gets really sick later at home. Are there any sober ladies here with advice? Her issue is medically related, but I suggested maybe she should look into AA resources on how to be social while maintaining sobriety.

      • She should get a coke. No one has to know there is no liquor in it.

        • I think the insight she needs is learning to think differently about how happy hour must have alcohol. For most people, happy hour = fun, happy hour includes alcohol. Even if she ordered a coke, and not a soul knew (or cared) whether she was drinking, she still knows she’s not drinking, and still feels like she’s missing out on the “full experience,” which makes her want to have an alcoholic drink like she would before she got this medical issue.

          • I choose not to drink alcohol at many social events. I have never assumed there is a connection between alcohol and having fun, but I know that lots of people do.

            Maybe a different way of thinking about it is that the social event is about making a connection with your friends/colleagues, and what you drink/eat is secondary?

          • Has she tried getting a “fun” non-alcoholic drink? Some upscale bars will have all sorts of fancy home-made soda drinks—that way you get to have a delicious drink you’d never make for yourself, but also keep away from the booze.

        • Soda water + lime. Looks exactly like a vodka soda, and nobody ever notices. If anyone notices/comments while ordering, just tell them you’re working out in the morning, and it’s miserable if you’ve had anything to drink the night before.

        • A few jobs ago happy hours were the norm; and I am not a big drinker. I usually say “I’m the designated driver”, or, order a cranberry juice, which is along the same lines of the soda idea.

      • What I do is get a seltzer water — could easily be vodka and soda and people won’t ask what’s in there (unless they’re rude).

      • Booze not required :

        I rarely drink (probably 4-5 beers or glasses of wine per year). I have zero problem attending a happy hour and enjoying a ginger ale, a water, a juice, whatever. I don’t care if it doesn’t look like alcohol. I’m not trying to pretend I’m drinking alcohol, I’m trying to be social, enjoy myself and engage in conversation. If someone has a problem with my not drinking, then that is their issue, not mine.

        Actually, 9 times out of ten, you can fill in this blank with anything and it still holds true:

        “If someone has a problem with my ______, then that is their issue, not mine.”

      • Can your friend still order a non-alcoholic drink? Some people don’t drink, whether it be for religious, medical or personal reasons. I feel like most adults should be able to handle that and move on. Is she comfortable just saying alcohol doesn’t do well with me/medication interaction if pressed for an explanation and changing the topic?

        • This. I don’t drink for religious reasons. At happy hours, or parties, or whatever, I just have a ginger ale, or some other non-alcoholic drink. If someone ever asks why I’m not drinking (which is very rare, actually) I just say “oh, I don’t drink”. Sometimes “I don’t drink, but don’t worry, that leaves more for you!” Nobody presses the point, in my experience. If they did I’d tell them that I’m Mormon and that would be that, I hope. But people seem to be respectful to the “I don’t drink” comment.

          • If any of you read Ramit Sethi’s site, he did a test on what to say when you’re not drinking…he found that “I quit drinking” works a lot better socially than “I don’t drink”

      • If you want to eat with everyone else, bring food to share that you can eat. That’s what the two women in my office with celiac disease do. And I get wanting to eat if it’s a meal (like at a pizza party), but if it’s just a quick late morning “hey guys, cupcakes in the conference room” then I don’t see the need to be eating. Bring a coffee or something to keep your hands occupied, but I think an apple would be weird. As for pressure to drink, I really don’t get why she can’t get seltzer and lime like all the first trimester I-haven’t-told-anyone-yet-but-can’t-drink-but-can’t-be-seen-not-drinking-or-they’ll-all-know pregnant ladies do.

        • Anonymous :

          This exactly- I just said this upthread. Its the brining the single serving healthy food thats obnoxious.

          • But in an office where treats are ubiquitous and you may not know ahead of time that there’s going to be a celebration, I seriously don’t get how my having an apple affects your choices or how you feel about them.

          • Anonymous :

            It doesn’t- we are talking about the situation where there are cupcakes in the breakroom, and you bring an apple to the breakroom to eat it with everyone eating cupcakes. Just go and say hello, don’t bring your own healthy snake to the cupcake party. It does not affect my choices or how I feel about them- its just not proper. You don’t bring your own bottle of wine (for just you to drink) to a dinner party

          • Clearly Speaking :

            Why on earth should you feel so down on people who eat foods that are good for them? You have the same choice.

          • Anonymous :

            It doesn’t have to do with healthy or not. It is just rude. If someone says join us for cupcakes in the breakroom, you don’t show up and say “no thanks, I actually brought my own piece of cake” and eat it. Again, it has nothing to do with the healthy food, its the fact that it is single serving.

          • Apologies if someone has already said something similar…but my opinion of the apple debacle is that it comes down to the situation. If the whole office gathers in a conference room with a surprise cake for someone’s birthday, show up, yell surprise, and then politely exit as the cake is being cut, and go back to your desk to eat your apple if that’s what you want. If several colleagues just happened to be gathered in the break room and one of them happened to bring a leftover cupcake from home, by all means go socialize with your apple as everyone’s just snacking. And I have learned this tip over many, many uncomfortable years of turning down food in the office (I’m a plus-sized lady, so people always assume I will take any food offered, but I just do not snack during the day, period) – just say a polite but firm no if you don’t want food, alcohol, etc. offered in a work environment. Absolutely NO explanation or white lie is required on your part – if the person offering is rude enough to push it, then they deserve a reiteration of your “no, but thank you”.

      • If it actually makes you sick, then you’re not in “white lie” territory–you can just say, gee, looks great but I have an allergy/can’t eat gluten/whatever.

        Then freely munch on the apple. i think the “don’t bring the apple” comments were more for the people that are just trying not to eat cake

        • YES, this!

        • But why? Why is better if the person has an allergy than if they simply don’t want the cupcake? Why is it okay if you are allergic, but not okay if you want to lose 2 lbs or are running a race that coming weekend or don’t want pimples or ate 6 cupcakes last night and cannot stand the idea of another cupcake?

          • I agree. This whole conversation is making me shake my head.

            Why someone eats or doesn’t eat something is nobody else’s business. None of us owes anybody else an explanation for our food choices. It would be nice if we could adult up and stop policing what other people eat.

          • I agree. Also, I don’t think people who have “legitimate” reasons for not eating certain food should have to explain them to other people, because then people feel invited to comment whenever you eat something they think should be forbidden for you.

            There’s also the problem of determining what’s a legitimate reason. Many people feel sick when they eat food their bodies aren’t accustomed to eating even if they don’t have an actual medical condition.

        • I actually can’t eat gluten, but using that as my reason for not partaking in unhealthy snacks that I don’t really want anyway has backfired sometimes because I have extremely thoughtful coworkers. They remember my excuse and go out of their way to make sure that the next time they bring junk, it is gluten-free. This makes it much harder for me to turn it down politely, so I try not to use my gluten sensitivity as an excuse except for the rare circumstances when I really WOULD be eating it if only it didn’t have gluten.

      • I’m pregnant, and I entertain clients. I don’t make a big deal out of what I am/am not drinking, but I often get cranberry & tonic. Then nobody feels weird around me, I don’t feel like i’m making them feel awkward…and it’s fairly obvious i’m pregnant.

      • New trick I’ve learned: if it’s a beer and wine event, order a beer in a dark bottle and just carry it around. No one can see the level of the beer inside.

        • Or order what you actually want to drink (water? coke? iced tea?) and own it.

        • East Coast Anon :

          A waste of money and alcohol.

        • Anonymous :

          This actually might be the most juvenile thing I’ve ever read on this site. It literally reminds me of high school when people would drink just to fit in. Carrying alcohol as a prop is a new low.

          My mother doesn’t drink. Ever. She just doesn’t like it. She has no reason. I cannot ever imagine her needing to hold a beer to try to fit in. She fits in because she’s interesting and smart.

          • Ever? Really? I’ve seen worse.

          • My friends threw a party for me in a hotel room a few nights before my wedding. I didn’t want to drink much because I had stuff to do the next day so I drank one beer and after that, I took the bottle to the bathroom with me and filled it with water repeatedly. When my future husband and I were leaving to go home, he gave me a serious look and asked if I was okay to drive. I said, yes, I had one beer several hours ago and I’ve had a ton of water since then. I like to think I’m still interesting and smart.

            I could have said to people that I didn’t want to drink because I wanted to do stuff the next day but I wanted the people at the party to have fun and I think they would have had less fun if they knew I wasn’t drinking and I didn’t want to deal with people asking why I wasn’t drinking. Maybe that was immature but I think it was courteous in a way. I didn’t call attention to myself or make anyone feel badly. I just let them do what they wanted to do while I did what I wanted to do.

        • This is off-topic, but when I was in college I did something similar. At whatever party I was at – whether frat, house, or coop – I would grab a red cup, have my one beer, and then continuously fill it with water from the sink. Could I have dealt with obnoxious drunk-os all night forcing drinks on me? Sure. Could I have just not gone out with my roommates? Sure. Or, I could find a way to be social and safe in a way that I was comfortable with.

          I still give this advice to young men and women alike. In situations with extreme peer pressure sometimes it’s better just to avoid confrontation – especially when in the frat setting, for young men, they are more likely to be monitored/ forced into drinking only if someone actually realizes they aren’t.

          The office is not (generally) a frat party, but in my opinion, telling someone that they should just deal with peer pressure and not feel a need to “fake drink” is as judgmental as monitoring someone’s food choices.

          As women, we should support our own and each other’s decisions to do what is healthy and best for each other. There’s enough bullsh*t from everywhere else.

      • Club soda with a lime or diet coke with a lime! More “festive” than just ordering water.

      • Who are these jugdy people that monitor what everyone is drinking at happy hour? I could care less if someone comes to happy hour and drinks water or brings an apple! I’m just there to socialize and have fun.

        • My husband and his colleagues went to an open mic night a few years ago. I was getting over a nasty cold so I spent the whole night drinking water. The next day, one of his colleagues asked if I was trying to get pregnant. He’s a sweet guy but that was kind of obnoxious.

      • Kerrycontrary :

        Get a soda water with lime! I’m not a big drinker and it can trigger my migraines. I just tell people I’m not drinking, no big deal. Everyone should be adult enough not to pressure her.

      • +1 for club soda and lime. No one will ever know.

        • I went to a client/ networking event about a month ago and had about 6 club sodas with lime (I was thirsty). I actually started hoping that someone – everyone – would know that I wasn’t actually drinking that much.

    • I agree. Just bring your water/tea/coffee. Eating something else when other people are eating something that a coworker graciously brought in is rude.

      • Obviously unless you are allergic, etc. See Brant’s comment above.

        • mamiejane :

          I’m allergic to most chocolate/cakey delicious things and I still would never bring an apple. I often don’t want to get into my food issues but I will just tell people I’m feeling full from something I ate earlier and that I might grab a bite later. Most of the people I work with are somewhat aware of my allergies but I don’t feel the need to constantly bring it up.

    • Clearly Speaking :

      Really? I ate my tangerine while everyone else was eating something I am allergic to and there was no problem. I was a part of the team while simultaneously looking out for my health.

    • Calibrachoa :

      Even if individuals do not care, society does. If soiety did not put presusre on us about our food hcoies and daring to be woen who reqyuitre nutrition to survive, this post would not exist.

      Even here I see a LOT of assigning moral value to food. Apples are “good” because, why? What makes apple better than a cupcake? Both provide fuel for your body. We are constantly told that we should eat this, not eat that, that eating a frigging CUPCAKE is an “indulgence” and we “shouldn’t”… it is FOOD.

      This explains it so much more eloquently than I can: http://ahumanstory.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/the-morality-of-eating/

  3. I would probably say, “Thanks! But I’m stuffed…”

    I don’t like sweets much, and fortunately our office just has food laying out. I am also close enough with all of my coworkers to tell them the truth, that I’m not big on sweets.

    • I do this as well, and it’s true. I’m just not big into sweets and desserts. I prefer the salty spicy deep-fried kind of indulgences myself. So I say so, and skip the cupcakes, but still socialize.

  4. You can trash it in the office if you want to, just be sure to do it where it won’t be obvious.
    Like go to a different floor or put it in a big covered can no one will use.

    A lot of times whoever brought the goodie is anxious to get rid of it because she doesn’t want to take it home or eat it herself. So you are pressured to take some. Actually eating it is your choice.

    I often have something sweet in my lunch bag so another cookie/cupcake/whatever is out of the day’s calorie budget. Wrapping it up in a baggie and holding for tomorrow will work for me, I just don’t need people clucking over it.

  5. For the love of all that’s holy – is this a serious concern?

    • Agreed, I wish an office cupcake party was my problem this afternoon.

    • Anonymous :

      It seriously is. See the comment below with the link- a poster commented about how rude it was for an intern to turn down a cupcaks, everyone told the OP it wasn’t rude, but she kept insisting it was rude.

  6. “No thanks. I have the die-uh-beetus.” –Wilford Brimley

  7. Please do not say you are allergic to something if you are not really allergic to it.

    I spent the first year of a relationship worried about nut allergies, thinking my boyfriend was allergic to nuts, until I found out it was just something he said to avoid cake at the office.

    • I was hoping someone else would say this! I have a true wheat allergy, but it seems like a lot of people assume I’m only avoiding it since wheat/gluten free is a big fad diet right now. Then I get pressure that “oh just one won’t hurt”

      I think saying “I’m stuffed from lunch!” is a perfectly acceptable and non-confrontational reason.

      • Yes. Thank you. Some allergies can be really serious and faking an allergy to avoid eating something you don’t want to eat/like, only makes people doubt the seriousness of actual allergies. We’re adults. If you don’t want a cupcake, smile, say “no thank you” and change the topic of conversation.

      • Oh, yes, this. Absolutely this.

        “Oh, EVERYONE is doing gluten-free right now!” … yeah, ok, fine, but I get a huge rash (cracking skin, bleeding, the works) from the wheat that you put in things because “oh, you didn’t think anyone was REALLY allergic!” so…

        Grrrrr.

        • Yes, yes, yes!!! Crying wolf & claiming you have allergies when you don’t is hurtful to people who actually do have allergies & wind up having horrid reactions to stuff that’s snuck into their food because people didn’t believe them. Not only is this not a “little white lie”, it shows incredible immaturity/self-confidence (sounds like a “nice girl” who won’t get the counter office), short-sighted (consider what foods you wouldn’t be able to eat if you really had a food allergy–potentially very long) and harmful. I can’t believe someone who’s supposedly thinking all these things through carefully to blog about them would post something so off the mark.

  8. flavorless cakes with too much icing make my life. not to be snarky. i seriously love icing and my office rarely has cakes. le sigh.

    • Me too! Cake is just an excuse for icing, imo.

      • I have always said if it were socially acceptable for me to eat icing out of a container in public, that’s what I’d be doing, rather than wasting cake.

        • That Cool Whip frosting that just came out–is it bad that I went through 1/3 of it before finally getting around to baking the intended cake? Dutch chocolate. So. Darn. Good.

      • Yup, cake is just a socially acceptable vehicle for getting the frosting to my mouth. Spoons/forks/fingers work equally well and are lower calorie, but less socially acceptable.

    • Katy Beth :

      Guilty as charged!

  9. I used to have a boss who was Orthodox and couldn’t eat the vast majority of food in our office (we did have one Kosher bakery on speed-dial for when it was her birthday). Her tack was to admire and praise the food extensively, which then made it seem very non-judgemental when she didn’t eat any. Yes, a religious reason for not eating is different from health-related one, but it still was a much more inclusive and warm way of declining food than to just say “I can’t eat that.” She’d be sure to walk over and look at the cake/pastries/cookies, admire any decoration, ask the cook where s/he had learned to make such pretty frosting roses/sugar sprinkles/etc., ask how long the food had taken to prepare, and say how delicious it looks (often with great specificity, e.g., “that cake looks so moist — I’m sure the cream cheese frosting really brings out that flavor”). It was a way of really participating in the food (if that makes sense) without actually eating any.

    • I LOVE cupcake’s and I bring them in from Crumb’s! Yay! Frank and the Manageing partner devower them when I bring them in and some times the manageing partner hand’s me $40 and tell’s me to go out and get some for the office! YAY!!!

      That is why I love working for my firm. There are no peeople who won’t eat cupcake’s! Yay! Of course we all have large tuchuse’s and gut’s to show for it, but we are HAPPY!!!! Who needs to be skinny if it turn’s out you become SURLEY!

      I have a fitbit to work off my fat tuchus, but I would rather have a fat tuchus and be happy then be skinny and mad at the world b/c other peeople are eateing cupcakes!

      Hurray for Crumb’s!!!! Even if you only get cookie’s! It is GREAT! I recomend it, even on PASSOVER! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Elle, you can’t seriously be a lawyer with that grammar and spelling. Why don’t you go bug another site

        • Well, you misspelled her name and left punctuation off your last sentence. Relax. Have a cupcake.

  10. Anonymous :

    This is one of the few social interactions where eating a vegan diet comes in handy. Most sweets I’m faced with at the office have milk, eggs or butter, so I have a ready-made excuse for avoiding them that doesn’t make anyone feel bad.

    • funkybroad :

      vegans FTW!

      [omg, another professional vegan. where are you?!]

      • funkybroad :

        [by which I mean vegan professional. me talk good. *facepalm*]

      • Yep! We are here, dodging eggs and milk with abandon. I do dislike that people always want to discuss it during meal times because I don’t feel like people eating food time is the best time to discuss ethics but it is an easy out. I just smile, bring a drink, say that it look good, and steer all questions about me specifically back to the group so it’s not a focus. “No thanks!” (with a big smile) on repeat works wonders!

        As to the person above about booze at events: sadly, some people feel the need to comment on what everyone else is eating and drinking. It’s weird but also weirdly common. Drink what you want, and know that you can always ask for your soda in a “low ball” glass so it looks like booze if you aren’t up to a discussion or know your crowd well enough to know that they’ll ask.

        Yep: I’m a vegan who doesn’t like to drink. Fortunately , I’m hysterically funny so I still get invited to parties ;)

    • Vegans can be pretty darn annoying and holier-than-thou. Saying you are vegan may not make people feel bad but it may still elicit a negative reaction.

  11. small office :

    We have a few people on special diets (wheat allergy, no sugar; gluten-free; low-carb) and I myself am following a Primal/Paleo eating style. I’ve been here long enough to learn that everyone here is pretty respectful of others’ eating choices (even if paleo sounds really strange to them), mostly because most of the attorneys here are health/weight conscious and there are usually a few members of the staff who are trying to lose weight. The cakes and desserts are still routinely devoured, but once I let people know I’m avoiding certain foods, they don’t push. However, I do fill up with coffee or tea or water and join in the socializing. Once you share your eating style with people, though, you have to expect some questions about how it’s working, what you think of it, and also comments about how they could never do that and they believe in “everything in moderation”. (Seriously, so many people have said to me, “everything in moderation” is the way to go. That one’s probably the one that’s most offensive one to me, because if you put a bag of potato chips in front of me, there is no way I will only eat a few and I resent that that’s considered a failure of self-control on my part when we know that chips and other snacks are made to be addictive!)

    • TO Lawyer :

      I wish people would not push at my office. I generally try to watch what I eat and when I don’t partake in sweets/cake at work, I get comments from mostly the older females in the office about how I should eat everything because I’m so skinny. I’m not a fan of the entire office commenting on my body.

    • phillygirlruns :

      so true on the “everything in moderation” bit. look, moderation and i don’t get along. i don’t want a couple chips – i want all the chips. if i always eat exactly what i feel like eating, i will not be happy with the natural consequences.

      truthfully though – this thread has made me appreciate that no one at my office pushes this kind of thing. i prefer to eat primal/paleo – it works for me, i’m healthy, perform well, happy with how i look and all that. so if there’s office pizza or whatever – i go to the lunch, bring my water bottle, and hang out for a while with everyone, then go back and eat at my desk. if someone asks – and they usually don’t – i just tell them i learned a while ago that i have a mild gluten allergy and that while it won’t kill me, i’m much better off avoiding it altogether. that ends it. it makes me very uncomfortable to have my eating choices scrutinized and it’s nuts to me that this is such a common topic at other offices.

  12. Honestly, not sharing in the communal food or joining happy hour at the office is a big no-no and it’s a mistake I see a lot of young, female lawyers make. As quaint as it might sound, sharing food and drink is how groups of people bond. If I decline food or drink whenever it is offered, I am implicitly rejecting an invitation to join the group. This means I have poorer relationships with my co-workers–including potential mentors, peer-level contacts (that become very helpful after you’ve all moved to other places), and support staff (who can be your greatest enemy or greatest ally).

    I’m not saying that people should eat every cupcake that’s offered or go to every weekly happy hour. But make an effort at least once per month (and eat and drink the provided food). Even better, go to (and eat at) every-other event. If you have a strict diet, tell the person who plans the event so you are at least trying to participate. Even though I’m now on a strict diet to lose weight, I “reserve” one of my cheat meals each week for our weekly office lunch just to maintain the bonds with the people I work with.

    • Diana Barry :

      I am very thankful that this is not the attitude at our office! We don’t have office lunches. We only sometimes have cake, and the partners are ALWAYS the ones who are not eating.

      • Anonymous :

        +1 Partners are always the ones not eating. I also bring an apple or banana when I don’t want to eat junk during the weekly parties. No one seems to notice or care.

    • There are a couple of ladies in my office who love to bring in baked goods that frankly aren’t that good, but I make an effort to go in while everyone’s eating and heat up my coffee, make tea, etc. There’s always that awkward moment where someone will ask “Where’s so-and-so?” and then everyone knows who showed and who didn’t. It’s not that hard to stand around and make small talk while people eat whatever, especially when you have something in your hand.

    • This is probably a “know your office” kind of thing, but I agree with k-padi. Generally, all the attorneys (and paralegals and most staff) genuinely enjoy working with each other. Therefore, it’s important to make an effort to socialize during little gatherings for cupcakes (or beer-thirty on Fridays, specifically, at my office).

      There’s no pressure to show up to every event, but it can’t hurt you to see and be seen with your coworkers (and the older partners) and maintaining good relationships with the people you work for. I can tell you, though, that we’re not the type of office that pressures people to eat sweets/drink/etc. I’m pregnant and don’t drink and we have several people that don’t drink for various reasons (religious, medical) and many people who don’t eat sweets. Those people usually just bring a soft drink and spend the time socializing while other people indulge.

    • Honestly, that explanation sounds a little neurotic. No one will disown you for lacking a beer/cupcake.

      I’ve never seen it happen. Saying awkward things in a group conversation, I have seen that work against people. Even then, mostly not.

  13. Anonymous :

    Here’s a rant – I get really frustrated at designations of “real women” (ie, “real women have curves”). Today I went to Marshall’s and saw that they categorize all plus sizes under a big banner which says “Women’s Sizes.”

    It irrationally bothered me since whether you’re a size 2 or 22, you’re a woman. I think this is not uncommon (misses sizes as equivalent to straight sizes vs women’s sizes as equivalent to plus sizes) but what a ridiculous nomenclature.

    • This has always bothered me too. Someone on thought catalog did a post about this. The desginations are attempting to be PC but end up bungling it completely and just making it confusing/offensive. For ex) “curvy” sounds better to these companies than plus size, but there are plenty of curvy people who are not plus sized and plus sized people who are not curvy.

    • I agree it can be confusing. On the other hand, if you are in the “misses” sizes and feel like you are not “womanly” enough, I hope that society’s acceptance of your body by always providing clothes in your size might comfort you.

      Do you have a proposed alternative? I mean, my alternative would be to make all the female styled clothes in all the sizes, and segregate them only by style (Professional, Club/Party, Trendy, comfort, whatever you want to call them). Stores don’t do this, because they don’t want to make all the clothes in all the sizes, and allowing the larger customers to shop with everyone else will make the “everyone else” not spend as much or something.

      • Anonymous :

        Yeah, my vote is just like you have clothes separated by S/M/L or 2/4/6/8/10/12/14/16 (or whatever) on the racks, to mix in all the clothes both straight and plus sizes (like you said). Basically, I’m not sure why if you cross a certain size threshold, the store needs to set up a whole different section to shop in for those sizes (assuming you’re in a store that stocks straight and plus sizes). I wouldn’t not buy a top just because I saw it also came in plus sizes – but maybe stores think I would? Ridiculous. This is a criticism of store layouts, but I also have an issue with the nomenclature in general.

        Also, I used to think the W appended to the end of clothes sizes (like 16W) meant “Wide” (like for shoes I guess? I was, like, 15 when I thought this) and found it really, really mean and couldn’t understand why we had continued to name things that way. So I guess “women’s” is definitely better than that.

        • FWIW, in some brands, there is an overlap between W and Misses sizes…for example, JNY (where I used to work when in college) has a misses 16 and a 16W. I believe that the idea is the 16W has a slightly different cut/proportions, in the same way that a 16P is different from a misses 16.

          However, the misses/women’s distinction has always irked me as well. I think all clothing should just be sized by the actual waist/inseam measurements (maybe hip measurement as well) like men’s is…a little trickier with shirts could be sized by bust, I suppose, and dresses could be bust/waist/length. It wouldn’t be perfect but it would be a lot more uniform than our current system, where I personally wear a range of about 6 different “sizes” depending on the store – and sometimes different within the same store.

      • anon for this :

        Not everyone who isn’t a plus size has an easy time finding clothes. Thanks to a narrow frame and vanity sizing, I’m a 00 or less in many major retailers. I’m actually pretty curvy and not super thin, just small framed (and petite/short to boot). I can never find clothes that fit w/o expensive alterations…and I get to be told I’m not a real woman by anyone and everyone. Also, everyone on earth feels like they can comment on what I eat…either surprised when I eat a lot or sneer if I pass on an office cupcake.

        Anyone on the ends of the bell curve gets the shaft from retailers…its not about society, its about business (though I think they’re missing many market opportunities by not catering to us).

        • Anonforthis :

          +100

        • Hollis Doyle :

          On the opposite end of this, I’m 6′ tall with long arms and legs. Many brands make “regular” sizes, petites, and plus sizes. Even in brands that carry “long” lengths of pants, a lot of times their size charts indicate that those lengths are for women 5’9″ to 5’11”. What about those of us over 5’11”??

        • Brunette Elle Woods :

          This! Except I’m a 00 and 5’8″ so certainly not petite, but not quite tall. The petite sizes usually have the 00 for me, but don’t fit the length. The tall sizes fit the length, but I’m swimming in them! Although I do find some clothes that work for me, the “real” women label drives me nuts.

    • I can’t stand the “Misses” category some stores use to distinguish the non-plus-size from the “Women’s.” “Misses”? What does that even mean?!

    • I hate that so much. For a while a few years back, it seemed like department stores were designating only plus sizes as “Women” and relagating everything else to Juniors. Extremely irritating.

  14. I love to bake and if I have extra cupcakes left over, I’ll sometimes bring them to the office. I’ll just send an email to the team that I have dessert and put them in a common location. That way people are free to come get them if they want.

    • This! I enjoy baking and my husband doesn’t share my enthusiasm for baked goods so I need to share.

  15. Anonymous :

    http://corporette.com/2011/06/22/suit-of-the-week-talbots-double-weave-suiting/

    • Wow, I just went back and read that thread. The OP was upset because the cupcake rejector said “No thank you,” without any further explanation. I would think not adding any explanation is MORE polite than giving a reason why.

      I’m so confused.

    • Alanna of Trebond :

      Wow that poster in that thread is bat-sh*t insane ;-).

  16. Calibrachoa :

    I find this somewhat topical as we have a box of creme eggs in the office.

    and i have egg creme on my blazer *sigh*

  17. That’s why I say yes to every cupcake and baked good. Its for my professional development nom nom nom

    • Ha ha. I love this. “ITS FOR WORK,” she says through a mouthful of icing and cake.

      Seriously, though, I’ve said it a couple of times in this thread (although none of my posts have appeared), but I understand the socializing and participating aspect as being important, but I’m not sure I have to ingest the cupcake, pepperoni pizza, beer whatever in order to participate. I mean, who is even noticing. If you have actually taken the time to notice and tally what I have ingested, then you are probably not actually socializing and participating yourself. I see no problem with showing up, eating / drinking what you want or not eating / drinking what you don’t want. Its not the cupcake that makes the thing important. Its the fact that you are getting to know people on a more casual level than “have that brief to me by tomorrow.”

      • There is no problem with you coming and eating whatever you want if you don’t care what other people think of you. It IS going to make other people, who may be more insecure than you, uncomfortable. People tend to not like people who make them feel bad about themselves.

        • “People tend to not like people who make them feel bad about themselves.”

          Okay, but to what lengths are we expected to go to make sure that we aren’t making people feel bad about themselves? Stop exercising, even though we enjoy it, because other people don’t enjoy it or don’t exercise and now they feel guilty? Eat a cookie if what we really want is an apple (or a burger, or carrots, or fritos) because someone else will feel bad about their own cookie choice if we don’t have one too?

          As long as you are’t actively trying to make people feel bad about themselves, then you shouldn’t worry about whether or not your authentic self and your authentic choices leave them feeling a certain way about themselves. Their issue, not yours.

          • Seriously! Let me cram my face with crap that I don’t want so other people will like me.

            There is a very slippery slope in doing things you don’t want to do or don’t feel are right so that you’ll gain approval or acceptance.

          • This whole debate seems really silly to me. If eating an apple in that moment when everyone else is having cake is really that important to you, by all means go ahead. Enjoy the h*ll out of it. However, this site is largely concerned with being successful in the workplace in various intangible ways, and it’s good to be mindful of the fact that *some* people will inevitably feel like, “an apple? Really?” And it doesn’t even have to do with the fact that you are making them feel bad or “insecure.” Rather, it’s likely the fact that when everyone is doing X and you decide to do Y instead, you are singling yourself out (which would not be the case if you just socialized and had a cup of coffee or tea instead). If your office had a fruit salad party and you’d brought a fudge cake instead, I would wager that you’d probably be greeted with the same reaction. Cupcakes (like fruit salad) are less about cake, and more about the shared experience of having them. As adults, I feel like it’s easy enough to abstain, you don’t need to bring your own treat.

            And saying “if someone has a problem with this, that’s their issue” for this situation just strikes me as completely irrelevant. That’s true for everything. But when you’re at work other people’s issues can become yours very quickly. I can do fine work sitting in my sweatpants and how I look has nothing to do with me doing my work at least 75% of the time, yet I put on professional clothes and brush my hair because I know that perceptions matter. Like it or not, some will perceive that apple at a cake party as obnoxious. If it were me, I’d save it for either before or after.

          • amen to AIMS. Without fail on certain issues, people on this site will decide that something is “someone else’s issue” Like if someone says oh you shouldn’t wear tennis shoes to work, someone will grab that torch and say “I HAVE FOOT PROBLEMS. I AM NOT GOING TO MURDER MY OWN FEET JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK ITS NOT PROFESSIONAL” ok well if you have foot problems and can only wear sneakers, that’s a choice you make and it is what it is. But the proposition STILL stands, even if there might be good reasons people wear sneakers to work, that you shouldn’t wear them to work. Yes, if someone feels bad about an apple, it could be their issue. But if someone is distracted by your cleavage, isn’t that also their issue? tons of stuff are “someone elses issue” but we need to adhere to some sort of rules anyway.

        • East Coast Anon :

          Feeling bad (or good) about oneself is an internal process controlled by each individual.

  18. Since now all I want is cake…Does anyone have a favorite cupcake? I like them, but I do relate to the OP’s characterization of designer cupcakes— dry cake with too much frosting. We have both Magnolia & Crumbs in Chicago, and I’m not blown away by either. Is there something better (or, different)?

    • Designer cupcakes are not that great–they always taste stale to me. I prefer cupcakes from box-mixes and frosting from a jar.

      Favorite flavors: german chocolate and coconut frosting and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

    • Diana Barry :

      Honestly, I have never found a commercial cake that I liked. The closest I have found is the recipes in the Flour cookbook (it is a Boston bakery). I haven’t gotten a whole cake at the actual bakery to compare, but their cupcakes are a bit dry and the frosting is too sweet. Magnolia is also too sweet, dusty flavor, icky frosting.

    • I really enjoyed Taste Love cupcakes in Detroit. Better than Magnolia, which I really didn’t get they hype.

    • Box of Duncan Hines. Seriously. Then look up boiled chocolate frosting – essentially you melt a stick of butter with cocoa and when it starts bubbling, stir in a bag (1lb.) of powdered sugar really fast. It turns into a pourable, bittersweet chocolate frosting that hardens up to a fudge-like consistency.

      I’m in DC, so we have a bunch of those cupcake places but I really think many boxed mixes are just as good. Or just google up a recipe – Amy Sedaris has a vanilla cupcake recipe that is simple and very good.

    • I would agree with the OP on the cupcake description (for the record, I usually partake to be social, but rarely eat the whole thing). The only cupcakes I do enjoy tend to be mini – I feel like they tend to be moister and with a better cake to frosting ratio. In NYC (and maybe elsewhere), there’s a place called Baked by Melissa that has the teeniest, tiniest cupcakes in fun flavors like red velvet and key lime pie and b/c you can eat them in 2 bites, they don’t suffer from that dry, sweet overload problem. I did work in an office once where this woman made the most delicious cupcakes with passion fruit icing and they were seriously divine – but Magnolia and Crumbs are not my cup of tea even remotely.

    • Sprinkles cupcakes are the best commercial cupcakes I’ve ever had. If you are a chocoholic, their dark chocolate is to die for. They used to give away free cupcakes every single day for saying a code word they posted on Facebook/Twitter, but they don’t do it anymore. The cupcakes do have a lot of frosting on them but I have found the cake part much less dry than other brands. There’s one in Chicago – you should check them out.

      I also like Kara’s Cupcakes and Susiecakes, which are California chains that I don’t think have gone nationwide yet. I’ve not been terribly impressed by Crumbs or Baked by Melissa. Magnolia is on my list for my next trip to NY.

    • Here in Calgary Crave cupcakes make some darn good cupcakes (and I love to bake – hate box mixes and frosting from a can with a passion as well as any supermarket bakery cake). My fave is vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting. Simple, but SO good when done well!

      I like my cupcakes moist and slightly dense with good flavour (don’t leave out the salt! I can tell) with creamy but fluffy frosting that also has good flavour (I don’t want to taste the shortening). I’m not much of a foodie, but I am kind of a cupcake snob, I guess.

      I have some pretty good recipes for baking, but I’m still working on finding an excellent frosting recipe.

      • CKB – I like Cook’s Illustrated’s Swiss Buttercream frosting – it’s work, but really good.

      • Anonymous :

        I wonder if that’s the same as the Crave in Houston. That is my favorite, hands’ down. Particularly their strawberry cupcakes. They have fresh strawberries baked in. I would kill for one right now.

      • They do a pretty nice carrot cake as the cupcake of the month in April or May, but I much prefer Bliss or Buttercream. I feel like the ratio of icing to cake is off at Crave, but Bliss and Buttercream are more evenly matched. Bliss does a great marble cupcake that I adore, and I prefer Buttercream’s Red Velvet. I sound like I eat cupcakes 5 times a week, but really, it’s just once in a while, and I happen to be close enough to all three that I switch it up.

        I’m a little surprised Jelly Modern Doughnuts hasn’t opened up a spot in the core yet, I bet they’d do well.

    • I too usually preferred home made, the box variety will do just fine! Locally “Nothing Bundt Cakes” is pretty good.

    • espresso bean :

      I like Sugar Bliss and Sweet Mandy B’s in Chicago.

    • 1. Ina Garten’s cupcake recipes (coconut; chocolate w/ peanut butter frosting)
      2. Cook’s Illustrated Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling – it’s life-altering. Tip 1: use a pastry/ziploc bag to put ganache inside baked and cooled cupcakes. Don’t waste your time putting ganache in the batter. Not worth it. Tip 2: Swiss BUttercream frosting is worth the effort.

      • Meg Murry :

        YES! to Cook’s Illustrated Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes. They are awesome, and really not difficult to make at all, athough they require a few non-traditional ingredients like coffee and bread flour. I did put the ganache in the cupcakes before baking and it was sooo yummy (although a few of my guests expressed concern that they weren’t fully baked so warn people that they are filled with ganache, not raw in the middle). I didn’t even bother with frosting, and I used midrange chocolate (think Ghiradelli and Hersheys/Tollhouse, they would be over the moon with better chocolate).
        Only concerns: 1) They are super chocolate-y, but not super sweet, so the 5 year olds at the birthday party didn’t really like them – but the parents did. These are definitely cupcakes for grownup tastes, very rich.
        2) The recipe only yields 12 cupcakes, so if you are making them for an event be prepared to multiple the recipe several times.
        Best dessert to ever come out of my kitchen. Ever. Totally worth however much I paid for the online subscription to Cooks Illustrated for this recipe.

    • I just don’t like cupcakes. It’s like all cake on the bottom (dry) and all frosting up top (too much). Cake is so much better because you layer it and get a little frosting with every bite.

      • Cupcakes are better because you can easily lop off the frosting and eat the cake! (Like cake, dislike most frostings)

    • Gail the Goldfish :

      have you had the minis from Crumbs? I like them way better than their full-sized cupcakes. Something about a better icing to cake ratio and the cupcake part is moister. (Yes, I have put a lot of thought into cupcakes). But I agree all commercial cupcakes are inferior to homemade.

    • my town has a bakery called BabyCakes and they do a bourbon chocolate cupcake that is just to die for.

      • Katy Beth :

        BabyCakes in KC? If so, YUM!

        • No, in KY actually… not sure if it’s a chain or a local bakery that picked a name other bakeries share. It’s yummy tho. Now I am making plans to stop by there this saturday…

          • Well shoot. If you ever travel to KC you definitely need to stop by–it’s amazing. Enjoy your sugar rush Saturday!! :)

    • Sweet Mandy B’s on Webster near Racine has fantastic cupcakes – way better than Crumbs (which I won’t even eat anymore – not worth the calories). I’ve had good luck with the Barefoot Contessa coconut cupcake mix, too.

    • More in Chicago is my very favorite… delicious cake and frosting!

    • Favorite cupcakes? Taste of Heaven in Chicago is pretty awesome– especially their lemon meringue cupcakes. YUM. In Minneapolis, I’m fond of Franklin Street Bakery (and I’ve heard great things about Cupcake.)

    • Calling NOLA! Have you ever tried the cupcakes at Cake Cafe in the Marigny. They are absolutely delicious. Also, their apple and goat cheese king cake is pretty much to die for.

  19. Not seeing why this is a huge deal. We share food all the time in my office- and people say “no thank you” all the time. If you want to be super-polite, say “That looks delicious, but not right now.” Not. A. Huge. Deal.

    However, don’t take perfectly good food that someone else might enjoy and toss it in the trash where the whole office can see it. Way to slap someone in the face. Either take one and eat it or don’t. If someone’s forcing a cupcake on you (weird), you can always take it home.

  20. I’m looking to surprise my husband with a quick 4 day vacation to someplace warm (maybe caribbean); what are some good website to find last minute deals?

    • Try Jetsetter– it is admittedly more “luxury” but it’s luxury for prices you’d pay for something more “regular.”

    • Jetsetter as mentioned above for luxury hotels/vacation packages; Travelzoo for more moderately priced deals. If you’re considering a cruise, cruise lines often have great last minute deals that you can probably on their websites or through a travel agent. If I were you, I would choose the location based on where you can get reasonably priced flights since its much harder to find those at reasonable prices at the last minute than hotels.

  21. Hungry. Wish I had a cupcake.

  22. There are baked goods in our break room right now. Judgment free.
    Too bad I have discovered that sugar packs on the weight for me. Back to the Lenten abstinence from dessert.

  23. Say it with me …. “No, thank you.”

    No excuses needed, no one will think you’re rude. People will forget that you declined within TEN SECONDS and move on.

    • Ha its not true though, take a look at the old post that someone linked too and look how defensive people got about how rude or not rude refusing a cupcake is.

  24. Blue Moon :

    Well, all this thread did was inspire me to go get one of the cupcakes that have been hanging out in the staff kitchen all day. Sigh.

    • long time lurker :

      seriously, this thread just made me hungry for sweets.

      on topic, however, I appreciate when we have those mini cupcakes at meetings/events. I can just have one or three or whatever, and one isn’t that bad size and calories wise.

  25. Divaliscious11 :

    No thank you usually works quite well.

  26. MaggieLizer :

    This is the appropriate reaction: http://cheezburger.com/7197552128

  27. Glad I’m a solo and the only other being in my office who cares what I’m eating is the dog. And she’s only interested because she’s hoping I’ll drop it.

  28. I don’t like to eat homemade goodies brought in by others. I know bakery & restaurant kitchens are not pristine but I have even less confidence in the kitchens and cooking habits of people I do not know. The last time I broke my personal rule because the smell of homemade brownies was so good and overwhelming I was rewarded with having to pull a nice long hair that had been baked in the brownie out of my mouth. I quietly warned a friend in the office who told me she didn’t eat any after seeing cat hair on the brownie she picked up.

    Sometimes it is a little harder to tell someone you do not want to eat something they cooked but I send a thank you and I’m usually preparing for a racing event that I can use as an excuse.

  29. one of the nicer things I’ve experienced in the office is when I left a job and the staff knew me well and instead of cake got a big bowl of fresh fruits and berries for everyone! I was happy and impressed.

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