Revealed: The Ultimate Office Underminer

Photo: Jed Egan, Photos:

Every office* contains certain elements one wishes to avoid having too much contact with. There's the Sexy Jailbait, and their inverse, the Office Letches. There are the Toxics and the Complainers and the People Who Hang Out and Talk About Work All the Time. But out of all of these potentially dangerous friends to fall in with, there is one that is worse than the rest. One that will suck you in, beguiling you with openness, its innocent familiarity, all the while corroding your insides and wreaking havoc on your outside until one day you realize your relationship has transformed you from a relatively normal-looking person into a bloated shadow of your former self. It is, the Wall Street Journal reports, the office candy dish.

There is research to show how irresistible the candy dish can be. A four-week study of 40 secretaries found that when candy was visible in a clear, covered dish, participants ate 2.5 pieces of chocolate on top of the 3.1 candies they would have eaten had the chocolates been in an opaque container, according to the 2006 study in the International Journal of Obesity. Moving the dish closer, so the subjects could reach the candy while seated at their desks, added another 2.1 candies a day to their intake. "The proximity and visibility of a food can consistently increase an adult's consumption," says the study, led by Brian Wansink, a professor of marketing and human behavior at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and author of "Mindless Eating." He adds, "Even for a person with the greatest resolve, every time they look at a candy dish they say, 'Do I want that Hershey's Kiss, or don't I?' At the 24th time, maybe I'm kind of hungry, and I just got this terrible email, and my boss is complaining — and gradually my resolve is worn down."

Watch your back (fat)!

The Battle of the Office Candy Jar [WSJ]

* Except at New York magazine, which has none of these.