To eat or not to eat?

Now there is no question.

3y ago

There are some things which just shouldn’t be done in some places. Reading, for example, is a great thing to do, but it must never be done on the toilet.

And if there is no one to talk to, staring like a mullet at your phone is perfectly okay. Doing so in a room full of people tells them very loudly that in your mind they don’t even warrant notice, or worse, less notice than a stupid meme. Make hideous faces at such people until their mullet eyes happen to catch a glimpse. It might take some time for this to come to pass, but the idiotic blinking look they’ll give is worth it.

Anyway, this time and place business brings me to an important question, and one which we all answer at some point in our lives. Eating, obviously, is necessary. Sitting in a car is necessary. Should the two ever combine?

The arguments for are very clear. You’re sitting in the car, you may as well do something, and I have to say that eating is one of the greatest default things you can do, in the absence of anything else. And then there’s tradies who say they must eat in the car, because going from job to job is the only time they can fit breakfast, lunch, and checking their phone in.

It's Just not done.

So for some, you don’t just eat a sub in the car, you also throw the wrapper and leftover celery (okay, all of it) into the footwell, and stomp it into fellow company. But I’m entering from a different perspective.

I was born into the House of Coleman, which has a legacy spanning generations that food or drink must never be consumed in a vehicle, moving or stationary. I’m sure if I went on one of those ancestry websites – which I would never do by the way; they’re the biggest waste of pensions – I’d discover my greatest grandfather had a peeve against people taking smelling salts in his buggy. Fine then, his dray cart.

It’s just not done.

I won’t say I haven’t had contrary thoughts to this position. I have. But I will say that before they could flower into convictions, the bud got snapped.

A few years ago, I cleaned a car that doubled up as an eatery and beauty parlour. And it would be a new thing for me to leave my own apple core in a car. It was quite another to pick up someone else’s. And I could do that once, perhaps. There was a whole rotten orchard in this car.

I got over that after a while though, and then just recently I got to clean a Toyota Camry that had actually never been cleaned since its owner bought it way back. There were chicken bones, and very, very old raisins, and a horrible sort of grime over absolutely everything. When I sprayed cleaner, a strange sludge formed in the cupholders. I actually felt ill. Possibly because I may have accidentally drunk the cleaner.



So you’d imagine that twice bitten, and that badly too, I’d be shy for the rest of my life. Sort of. The thing is, after the initial horror wore off, and calm analysis set in, as it does in these illnesses, I realised that the major problem was not that the owners ate in the car, per sae, but the fact that they ate all the wrong things and never cleaned up afterwards. I mean there’s that time and place again. Roast chicken is a very good thing. But not in the back seats of a moving car.

So rather than argue against all eating in the car, I’d actually judge that’s it’s okay. Provided, of course, that a few strict guidelines are followed.

First of all, the food must be solidly a solid, and not greasy, sticky, or very crumbly. It must be consumed carefully and with the understanding that any mess will not be left to grow fur. This rules out a lot of things, including Kingsley’s chicken croquets, pizza, yoghurt (with a long o, not short o), and possibly chocolate. Chocolate is okay when it’s not summer and you’re eating out of the wrapper. But believe me, scrubbing melted chocolate off a cloth seat is one of the most difficult things you can ever do. So, generally, no.

It’s important to note that eating out of the wrapper makes a lot of otherwise questionable substances tolerable. A McDonalds apple pie is greasy and it can spew hot apple, but if you’re eating it by sliding it out the packet, it probably isn’t that bad.

Another law to consider is that junk in the footwell is not permitted. So while eating a banana might be fine because it’s got a natural wrapper and is neither greasy nor particularly crumbly or sticky, if you have to dump the skin at your feet, then it’s not okay. Throwing it out the window on the freeway is not okay either. Anyway, bananas are horrid travel companions.


But while there’s a lot excluded by these common sense guidelines, there’s also a lot that’s made perfectly allowable. Muesli bars for example, are usually held together with sugar, so they’re not that crumbly, and they have wrappers which can be used, then stuffed in your pocket. Lolly snakes are really only sticky if you put them in your mouth and drag them out again, which you won’t be doing, so they’re fine. As are mints, many dry biscuits, and unsalted nuts.

Of course, everything leaves a residue. So I’d argue strenuously for a bottle of hand sanitiser and baby wipes to be kept handy. And those travel bins you can hang from the back of the front seats? Whoever said they were a good idea never got to sit three hours in front of one.

I realise these principles can be difficult to remember, which is why a panel of pithyticians were tasked with finding a way that would make them stick in your head like The Song of Angry Men. They failed miserably, so one way is to consider that if you’d be able to taste the food afterwards by licking your fingers, it’s a no.

Though you might just be having the rebellious thought– it’s my car, I’ve got to live with it, I’ll do what I like. And so be it. But even if you’re content to live in filth, one day you’ll probably have to sell the car to someone who might not have an issue with living in his own filth, but not yours.

So you’ll have to clean it. And I promise you from the bottom of my heart that you will repent.

PS: Part of signing up to have your car washed at my absolutely bargain pricing now involves declaration of substances consumed in the car since it was last cleaned. If you can’t remember that date, or the substances veer dangerously into the fields outlawed above, you might have to go and take it to one of those carpark car washes and pay much more for much less.


Photo credit:, evoke. ie


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Comments (71)

  • it's ironic, as I was reading the first paragraph, I was actually sitting on the toilet!😂

      3 years ago
  • 8/8 on the quiz! I have a car in which I drive my family around in and I have strict rules on eating in the car and slamming the doors but that's a different story. If you're in my car, you're only allowed to drink water, juice, up and go that sort of stuff and allowed only to eat muesli bars and chocolate if it is solid. I have had the misfortune of cleaning melted chocolate from a cloth seat and it is not pleasing neither is having your car reek of bananas. My dad does allow eating in his car but that's why I heave and haw when I have to clean his car, who knows what you might find there, it isn't that dirty but not as clean as my car shall we say. Interesting read and topic that needs to be talked about more!

      3 years ago
    • Yep, someone who knows. Really, the only people who allow this in their cars are people who outsource their car-washing. It's a blessing for them, then, that they don't hear what gets said...

        3 years ago
  • This was a fabulous article!! I take exception with the apple question. After I finish an apple in the car, I always wrap it up in a tissue and throw it away the next time I come to a trash can like at a gas/petrol station. That one sticky car you were talking about, it would be interesting to culture the dash, streak it in a Petri dish and cook it in an incubator to see what grows out :)

      3 years ago
    • Eeewwwww. Maybe some things should be left to our imagination??? Can we call you apple juice Karen?

        3 years ago
    • Umm...ummm lol maybe apple, the juice part too sticky for me .... 😂

        3 years ago
  • Not from the house of Coleman eating is a necessity when your running kids around every night because of the two birds with one stone thing. Now should we I think should be tied to the prevailing speed limit. 55mph here in the states yep eat all you want. I do find above 90mph I don't want to do anything but focus on the road and driving. You guys can figure out the middle ground. When you going to take on the cell phone people sitting through the entire green light? That one will surely cause a stir...

    Cheers guys! Great Job!

      3 years ago
    • Yes, drivers have the additional consideration that they have to be able to eat and drive without getting distracted or making a mess. There's a margin for that in the rules, so the rules are applicable to both drivers and passengers.


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        3 years ago
    • They just introduces that law here about two months ago. I think its aimed more toward the cell phone but I have not read the statute yet. Still scarfing down burgers between robots and karate though.

        3 years ago
  • Is a box of BBQ Shapes allowed? (Please say yes!)

      3 years ago