The Caloric Content of an Office Kitchen in December

The Caloric Content of an Office Kitchen in December
coconino @ flickr.com CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Peanuts and walnuts and crispy rice crackers
Cookies and brownies and sugary snackers
Nut-studded cheeseballs and things just like that
This is why holidays make you so fat.

December is a festive time of year, with parades and songs and decorations... and food. Besides the gustatory delights served at parties and the family celebrations, the holidays seem to bring amateur bakers out of the woodwork more than any other time of year except maybe the OC Fair.
Maybe it's generosity; maybe it's showing off; maybe it's recipes that aren't scalable to a small family and result in "I can't have this in the house, so I'll just take it to the office and it'll get eaten." This isn't the season of despair for personal trainers for no reason, after all. Office kitchens and coffee roams groan with snacks, usually sugary, buttery snacks.

But just how bad is it? I mean, what exactly is tempting you as you go for your morning caffeine? Below is a snapshot of the contents of one office kitchen, used by about 20-30 people. This isn't an exaggeration, incidentally, and it's only counting what hasn't already been eaten. It also isn't counting the usual office kitchen supplies, such as tea and coffee additives (sugar, honey, dairy, etc.).

A note on the (completely unscientific) analysis: Where possible, I used the actual calorie count from the packaging or the manufacturer's published nutritional information. Where nutritional information wasn't available, I estimated 200 calories per cookie or bar and 300 calories per brownie.

1 bag of trail mix: 9600 calories
1 can of roasted salted peanuts: 8480 calories
1 bag of rice cracker mix: 7200 calories
11 muffin-sized cheesecakes: 4800 calories
9 Mrs. Field's brownies: 3240 calories
1/3 pan of homemade brownies: 3000 calories
14 chocolate cookies: 2800 calories
1 cheese ball with chopped nuts: 2740 calories
1 1/4 lbs. sliced cheese: 2160 calories
10 large butter cookies: 2000 calories
6 lemon bars: 1200 calories
50 wheat crackers: 875 calories
3 lbs. sliced fruit (apples, grapes, pears): 760 calories
3 Mrs. Field's cookies: 630 calories
3 snickerdoodles: 600 calories
18 Hershey's kisses: 450 calories
10 miniature peanut butter cups: 440 calories
9 Hershey's miniature chocolates: 378 calories

TOTAL: 51,353 calories

You didn't mis-read that. Every time someone walks into that kitchen, he or she walks past a gauntlet of over fifty thousand calories of tasty, portable junk food. And while that pile isn't going to be gone the next day, it only takes a little nosh every time (or every other time) you get a cup of coffee to give you those extra five pounds that everyone seems to gain this time of year.


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