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Author Topic: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?  (Read 9613 times)

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kingsrings

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The infamous etiquette rule about not taking the last of something-for example, cookies on a platter, pieces of chicken, etc. I'm trying to make more sense of this or wondering if maybe it needs to just bite the dust completely.

The object of the 'rule' is to not take the last of something because there might be someone else who wants it, so it's courteous to leave it for them. However, if everyone is polite and follows that rule, then the food item just sits there unclaimed forever, because everyone is leaving it for somebody else, so nobody ends up getting it in the end. And we don't want that pesky nobody to end up with it, heh.

Given that, isn't this kind of a pointless etiquette rule?

MDefarge

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2007, 03:30:53 PM »
If there is 1 of something left and I really want a bit more of whatever it is, I'll ask if anyone wants to split it with me - that way if someone else wanted some more we can both finish it without being "rude" Although, some things are easier to split than others.

BittyB

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2007, 03:43:54 PM »
You have to leave it for Miss Manners!   ;D

So here is the thing...

There is one piece of chicken left, and you have a guest.  You must offer it to the guest, WITHOUT noting that it is the last.  "Oh, Friend, won't you have some chicken?" (also, not some "more" chicken as that indicates they could be overeating.)

It is family only at dinner.  Sammy wants the last piece.  Sammy asks, "Would anyone else like the chicken?"  Jimmy would also like some and notes that it is the last piece, "Yes, Sammy, I'd love some.  Won't you split it with me?"  Of course, you generally have to train children UP to this point.  Otherwise they're prone to take advantage of the rules.

OR, in family only dinners you can indicate that children who clear the table and do the dishes are welcome to enjoy any leftovers in the kitchen.

If someone needs the ref for these please ask and I'll look it up at home (it's in Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour in the dinners section.)

jimithing

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2007, 03:56:55 PM »
Bitty, I think your brain is an etiquette encyclopedia!  You are always able to provide all the good etiquette quotes to back everything up!  :)

Harriet Jones

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2007, 04:00:51 PM »
One time I brought cookies in to my office.  Most disappeared quickly, but the last one sat on the plate for quite a long time.  Finally, someone took the last cookie -- and someone (not me ;)) had put a note under it "You pig, you took the last cookie!"

BittyB

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2007, 04:05:38 PM »
Bitty, I think your brain is an etiquette encyclopedia!  You are always able to provide all the good etiquette quotes to back everything up!  :)

Thank you!

artk2002

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2007, 07:31:40 PM »
The infamous etiquette rule about not taking the last of something-for example, cookies on a platter, pieces of chicken, etc. I'm trying to make more sense of this or wondering if maybe it needs to just bite the dust completely.

The object of the 'rule' is to not take the last of something because there might be someone else who wants it, so it's courteous to leave it for them. However, if everyone is polite and follows that rule, then the food item just sits there unclaimed forever, because everyone is leaving it for somebody else, so nobody ends up getting it in the end. And we don't want that pesky nobody to end up with it, heh.

Given that, isn't this kind of a pointless etiquette rule?

What rule is that?  I've never heard of such a thing.  It's ridiculous and wasteful.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Deetee

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2007, 07:55:27 PM »
So now I have to tell my story of not taking the last french fry.

I had been in Quebec and brought back some cheese curds so I could make poutine (cheese curds, gravy, fries-it's actually fabulous). I invited friends over and my BF served out a nice large platter of poutine and then went into the kitchen to heat up more fries.

Munch..munch..munch..

We all ate the poutine cheerfully until there was 5 fries left. Those got eaten very slowly until there was one left. No-one would eat it. I took away the plate and BF served up the second plate.

Munch..munch..munch..

Once again, we all ate the poutine cheerfully and quickly until there was 5 fries left. Those got eaten very slowly until there was one left. No-one would eat it. We all laughed and yelled at each other to eat the last fry until I finally ate it. I took away the plate and BF served up the third plate.

We had 4 plates of poutine in succession and no-one would eat the last fry, even with a fresh plate hovering over the table.

It was hilarious, but also told me how ingrained these habits are.

MeanMom

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2007, 08:49:28 PM »
One time I brought cookies in to my office.  Most disappeared quickly, but the last one sat on the plate for quite a long time.  Finally, someone took the last cookie -- and someone (not me ;)) had put a note under it "You pig, you took the last cookie!"

Had the same thing happen with cookies.  But it got a little twisted.  I brought in cookies from my annual Christmas cookie baking frenzy, one of the cookies was a gingerbread man.  The gingerbread man was the last cookie left but no one would take him.  First someone broke off a leg, then an arm etc.  Pretty soon it was just a gingerbread amputee.  When I left my desk someone swooped down and took what was left.  It's evidently not bad manners if noone sees you take the last cookie.

MeanMom

Marbles

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2007, 09:45:46 PM »
In an environment where the food is rationed by servings, like a buffet or family dinner, it makes sense to not take the last of something without asking the other guests whether they are interested in it because someone may not have gotten any yet.

For parties, I would think that you should feel free (may I even say encouraged) to take the last item of finger food. I have a friend who always eats the last of anything on the platter at parties just to free up the dish for the hostess, since so many people won't put out more food until the first platter is clean or there is space for a new plate. (Yes, the hostess could stack things if they were teh same, but with different snacks, say olives and cut fruit, that wouldn't work as well.)

tiggeril

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2007, 10:19:58 PM »
So I shouldn't dive for the last brownie, knocking over all in my way and snarfing it down while cackling loudly and finish by rolling around in the crumbs just to rub it in? ;)


(I like brownies.)

alecmari

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2007, 10:38:02 PM »
One time I brought cookies in to my office.  Most disappeared quickly, but the last one sat on the plate for quite a long time.  Finally, someone took the last cookie -- and someone (not me ;)) had put a note under it "You pig, you took the last cookie!"

Had the same thing happen with cookies.  But it got a little twisted.  I brought in cookies from my annual Christmas cookie baking frenzy, one of the cookies was a gingerbread man.  The gingerbread man was the last cookie left but no one would take him.  First someone broke off a leg, then an arm etc.  Pretty soon it was just a gingerbread amputee.  When I left my desk someone swooped down and took what was left.  It's evidently not bad manners if noone sees you take the last cookie.

MeanMom

For some reason I find that absolutely hilarious!

cicero

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2007, 03:57:45 AM »
well the way i heard it is that he/she who takes the last portion will get married in a year.

or is it ---- "within a year" ???

or was it ---- "won't get married" :o

who cares..... ;D

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CrayonOutlines

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2007, 03:41:33 PM »
This thread reminded me of sniglets -- from the '80s -- a word that should be in the dictionary, but isn't.  I thought there was a general one for the last one of anything that no one wants to take, but the one I found is specific to pizza:

Pigslice (pig' slys) - n. The last unclaimed piece of pizza that everyone is secretly dying for.

For more sniglets:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sniglets
http://bertc.com/sniglets.htm

reddevil

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Re: What's with the rule about not taking the last piece of something?
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2007, 04:11:13 PM »
So I shouldn't dive for the last brownie, knocking over all in my way and snarfing it down while cackling loudly and finish by rolling around in the crumbs just to rub it in? ;)


(I like brownies.)


And I probably shouldn't yell "look LOOK at what that squirrel is doing!!!  WEIRD!!!"  and grab the last brownie while everyone is searching for psycho squirrel?