Feeling the need to tell you about something I did. It’s bad.
So, I love Trader Joe’s, right? For all the reasons a twee, quirktastic, adorkable person like me might love a Trader Joe’s. And recently, independently of my zeal for Trader Joe’s, I had a hankering for tomato soup. A hunger—it is a comfort food.
On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I bought a box of their Organic Creamy Tomato Soup. The box art was appealing to me. The adjective “creamy” held some allure. I already had crackers of my preferred variety at home, so I purchased the soup and left. I was sort of excited about this.
At home, I cracked open the soup box’s twist-top and saw that the foil underneath was pierced through. As though some unknown, hairy, filth-encrusted finger had already been by and jabbed through my soup top prior to my knowing it, going fishing. It was an immediately unappetizing prospect. I threw the soup away.
With a sticky note, I affixed the receipt for my purchase to the inside of my front door, so I’d remember to seek reimbursement the next time I went to the store. Or rather, a replacement box. See, I had been burned by Trader Joe’s before—moldy tomatoes—and they’d been amenable to a no-questions-asked exchange. It was encouraging policy. So the next time I went to Trader Joe’s, I took the receipt with me.
This visit, I was intent on not wasting my time. I still hungered for tomato soup—I had a hankering (it is a comfort food)—so I wanted to make this trip count. I walked to the soup aisle, and picked up the first box of Organic Creamy Tomato Soup I saw on the shelf. I cracked it open. And what… what the fuck?
Freshness seal—stabbed through. Again!
This was starting to feel repulsive. I’m no germaphobe, but I know a thing or two about the damn Tylenol murders. That guy never got caught. They’re somebody’s grandparent. Poisoning a food product is one of the most fucked-up and anonymous ways to kill people, the source of many urban legends—I think about it all the time.
I twisted the cap back on this first box, and tried another. Want to guess what I found? You’re correct. Holy shit—a broken seal.
This happened twenty-one more times.
I will admit at this point that a certain stoned fascination took over very early during this process. It blew my mind that so many of these soup boxes with the twist-off tops had been so blatantly, frighteningly violated, and a curious part of me wanted to see just how bad the problem was. How far it went. The feeling was that I was uncovering conspiracy. I felt my love for Trader Joe’s dissolving with each new betrayal. How could they let this many boxes sit here, so obviously, maliciously, systematically tampered with? Every box!
Anyway, it was around box 22 that I finally happened to read the label on the box, a little yellow strip right by the twist-off top.
“JUST TWIST TO BREAK INNER FRESHNESS SEAL”
And then I was like, “Oh.” I realized the whole thing immediately. I felt for the receipt in my back pocket and rolled it up into a ball—don’t need that anymore. I grabbed a box of a different kind of soup and left the store after paying for it. The funny thing is, until the listeria kicks in, no one who shops at Trader Joe’s is going to know what I—completely accidentally, and with the best intentions—let happen to their soup.
I’m probably going to hospitalize forty people. Don’t tell anyone I did this. This is weighing on my soul, y’all. If I were a noble person, I would have bought up all the soup.