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The Five-Second Rule is Still a Bunch of Garbage

HealthThe Five-Second Rule is Still a Bunch of Garbage

Scientists can rip atoms to pieces, make spaceships buzz past Saturn, and create perfect copies of other animals, so we should probably believe them when they confirm—again—that when you drop food on the floor, your food becomes gross right away. Not after a honeymoon phase. Not after a consultation.

Scientists can rip atoms to pieces, make spaceships buzz past Saturn, and create perfect copies of other animals, so we should probably believe them when they confirm—again—that when you drop food on the floor, your food becomes gross right away. Not after a honeymoon phase. Not after a consultation.

The five-second rule is childhood fantasy: a wishful assumption that if you drop a Jolly Rancher on the floor, the germs, bacteria and vermin on the ground will pause and hold a committee meeting before deciding whether to attach themselves physically to the candy's adhesive surface. According to Rutgers researchers, who spent apparently two years knocking over fruit, bacteria transfers on contact just as soon as food hits the floor—which, conveniently enough, mirrors how science works in the rest of the universe!

This makes sense, since it turns out the five-second rule does not work in other situations. For instance, when Jake Arrieta uncorks a fireball to Ryan Braun, and Ryan Braun swings his bat, it does not take five seconds for the ball to decide whether it has been impacted by physics. When, let's say, you crash your car into a beam holding up a parking garage, the surface contact is immediate. The car doesn't sit there and think, hmm, it feels like the idiot behind the wheel just scraped himself into an $800 trip to the body shop, but maybe we should ruminate on it, to be safe.

No one knows for sure where this wondrous "rule" originated, although I'm gonna go ahead and blame lazy parents. (I can do this because I've been one for 12 years.) My guess: Sometime in the '50s, probably, a well-meaning yet frazzled mother watched her precious tot drop a pacifier on her lime-green tile kitchen floor, and, exhausted from both the grueling rigors of parenting and the impending Communist threat, she was just like, screw it, you know what, it wasn't down there very long, plop that manageably germified sucker back in your baby-mouth and let's go dance to some Bill Haley and the Comets in our smoke-filled living room.

Anyway, thanks to science for confirming what we already knew: When you drop food on a place where people's shoes have been, shoes that might have recently visited farm or a NASCAR track or the Canal Street subway stop, that food gets fucking gross RIGHT THEN.

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