In Lycheegate, the first "-gate" of a Top Chef season that has had more "gates" than a Christo installation in Central Park, cheftestant Otto Borsich quit the competition after he was accused of shoplifting a case of lychees from a supermarket (and mispronouncing them, to boot).
Alas, even then, poor Otto was behind the curve, for, according to an article in Slate, he should have gone with meat rather than lychees when his fingers got itchy.
As Brendan I. Koerner writes,
Meatlifting is a grave problem for food retailers: According to the Food Marketing Institute, meat was the most shoplifted item in America's grocery stores in 2005. (It barely edged out analgesics and was a few percentage points ahead of razor blades and baby formula.)Koerner points out that most of the protein-pilfering is associated with high-end cuts of meat, and that the fair sex has itchier fingers than the stereotypical meat-and-potatoes guy when it comes to filching the filet mignon:
Meat's dubious triumph is due in part to a law enforcement crackdown on methamphetamine use. Meat used to be the shoplifting runner-up to health-and-beauty-care items, a category that includes cough medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in home-cooked meth. In 2003, for example, a quarter of shoplifted products were HBCs, while meat took second place at 16 percent. But states began passing laws that require stores to move medicines containing pseudoephedrine behind secure counters. That was enough to cut the pinching of HBCs, which fell by 11 percent between 2003 and 2005.
Though men and women shoplift in equal numbers, such aspirational meatlifters are most likely to be gainfully employed women between 35 and 54, according to a 2005 University of Florida study; men prefer to lift Tylenol or batteries, often for resale and often to support a drug or alcohol habit.So it seems Clara Peller was on to something when she tried to get answers about the whereabouts of beef from seemingly sweet, pigtailed Wendy. For all we know, Wendy had slipped the beef into her blue gingham pockets.