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Are your co-workers faking their company potluck baking?

A new survey from social app Skout finds that men and vegetarians are the most likely to pass off store-bought Thanksgiving food items as their very own. Beware, the "homemade" hummus dish at the company potluck might just have an honesty issue!

We've all been there, noshing on potluck food in the conference room when a co-worker blurts out with a mouthful of food: "Whof mathe thif?" Yes, who made this? Everyone in the room wants to know, because this comfort food tastes great, it feels very familiar somehow, and it's sure hitting the spot. It's this year's go-to dish, and it's getting snapped up faster than a football in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl because when it's gone we're left with hamburger tater tot casserole and Cousin Edna's three bean salad. (Sorry, in my experience, the company potluck is a workplace ritual to be endured instead of embraced.)

Anyway, everyone is raving about this year's go-to potluck dish when the cook says with pride: "I made it myself, just for you guys! I'm glad you like it."

We swear, however, that we've tried this tasty potluck dish somewhere, but we can't quite put our sticky finger on where, and when, we've tried it. Then it dawns on us a day or two later: We sampled it at Costco last month while we were shopping! Or we tried it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Wegman's, or at another potluck where it was touting a very distinct plastic wrapper and Nutrition Facts box. Now we're faced with a decision: Do we call fowl on our self-made co-worker for making us believe he made it himself (or herself), or let the moment collapse like a flan in a cupboard?

Is this a trivial workplace issue? Of course it is, but it's exactly the type of seemingly meaningless workplace issue in which this workplace blog specializes! It's the little things that drive us nuts at work and can drive an odd, little trust wedge between us and our co-workers.

There are four basic types of employees when it comes to company potlucks. There are the employees who bring nothing but manage to eat everything. There are the cooks who proudly go all out making their favorite dish. There are the employees who openly, and unabashedly, bring store-bought food items, putting plastic wrappers and Nutrition Facts boxes proudly on display. Then there are, we've come to learn, the employees who remove the store wrapper, put the food item on a pretty, store-bought plastic plate, and try to pass it off as their very own, hand-crafted creation.

We'd sure love the recipe, but it's a closely-guarded secret for some reason. According to the Skout survey, more than half (59%) of men admit to faking a store-bought Thanksgiving item as homemade, while nearly half of vegetarians admit to the same. Wait, these homemade, organic horseradish chive mashed potatoes are store bought?!

There's also the issue of trusting our co-workers to cook by committee in the first place. We've already discussed the trouble that some employees can encounter gaining access to the cooking circle of trust at work, only to be soundly rejected by the self-proclaimed office cooks. Oh, thanks for offering to bring a dish but we already have more than we'll need. You just bring the napkins again, sweetie. Thanks! And now that a survey shows at least half of men (and vegetarians) could be faking their baking during the holidays, will gaining access to the cooking circle of trust at work get even harder?

So where does this savory survey leave us? Well, don't trust our male co-workers and the office vegetarian, apparently. Trust, but verify, that their "homemade" breads and/or casseroles are, in fact, homemade. Or just stop wondering about it and eat it, for Pete's sake! It's free food made by somebody else for which we can all be thankful because we didn't have to cook it. Unless it's hamburger tater tot casserole, in which case we are free to complain quietly while we pass the Tums. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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