News From Lankville

Area Grocery Store to Dispense Utensils One at a Time


By Brock Belvedere


Barlow Foods is changing the way it offers plastic eating utensils in its cafe, and the new system is getting mixed reviews.

Instead of setting out forks, spoons, little shovels, and knives that are individually wrapped in plastic, the store is unveiling machines that dispense unwrapped utensils one at a time.

The new system was the brainchild of Barlow Foods CEO John Barlow. In an attempt to reduce food packaging waste, Barlow created a contest for employees to submit suggestions for sustainable packaging solutions.

“I shut down the contest almost immediately, however,” noted the enigmatic Barlow. “I had an epiphany about the unwrapped utensils and I knew that that would be the best idea. There was no point in going through the charade of entertaining other ideas.”

Barlow has also instituted “Single-Pull Napkin Allocators(TM)” with digital display faces that alert customers to the number of napkins they have taken.

“The numbers begin to turn scarier colors after five napkins,” noted Barlow. “We are not messing around here.” 

Some folks, however, want to return to the traditional method of plastic-wrapped cutlery, citing sanitary reasons. Others have voiced concern over the fact that a utensil can sit out in the open air for considerable periods of time before it is taken and used, since utensils are discharged immediately after the first is removed.

“I don’t care for it,” said Barlow Foods regular Cindy Hopkins (rated about a 7 of 10 by this writer). “I’m suspicious of the intent and I find the way that the utensils pop out at you to be a little insinuating.”

Nevertheless, the machines have accomplished what Barlow hoped they would do- cut waste. The stores have seen a 35 percent reduction in the number of utensils and napkins being used.

“Are you going to argue with those digits?” Barlow asked, as he rose to his feet. When no comment was forthcoming, Barlow smiled self-assuredly and noted, “Well, I think we know who’s in charge here.”

Image courtesy of the Agricultural Research Service

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