5 Reasons It’s a Bad Idea to Ban Food on Subway Trains


Following the Spaghetti Incident of ’11, in which a woman and another woman behaved quite badly pursuant to a fight about food on a New York City subway train, the MTA has been thinking, and a board member has posited the “informal” idea of banning food and drink altogether on trains. This is not only because eating on trains is rather gross, and people should not have to smell your food while sitting in close proximity to you, a stranger eating smelly food, but also because people by and large have a propensity toward slobbish behaviors in public arenas, and they throw their food bags willy-nilly onto the tracks, and rats love that, and a ban would solve all of those problems!

Except that it wouldn’t. Hey, we think that people who take to the subway train with full styrofoam containers of fragrant edibles that they then shove this way and that until they finally get some in their mouths are…well, let’s just say we’d avoid that. For many years we’ve only taken small sips of water from a sports bottle in cases of severe dehydration while riding on the subway, such is our lack of appetite en train. But that does not mean that we think a ban should be implemented. We have 5 reasons why.

5. Giving the MTA the idea that they can and should ban things is unwise. This is called a slippery slope, a/k/a, where will it end, a/k/a am I going to be charged more because suddenly the subway is clean and free of rodents? I don’t think so, MTA. We’re onto you. What’s next, dirty shoes? Will we all have to wipe our feet before we enter the train? (Actually…maybe that’s a good idea.) Anyway, do we really want food on the subway to follow in the sad path that is smoking anywhere? Eating is pretty much a victimless crime, one of the few we still have in today’s world. Let them eat cake, said Marie Antoinette. On the subway, say we.

4. Where’s the enforcement? Will someone be stationed at subway doors and card kiosks to check your bag for your thermos of tomato soup or your container of fried pickles, or your pocket for an errant granola bar or beef jerky slice, which, if caught, you will be forced to throw away, much like you would at airport security? Will this person be able to carry a weapon? You don’t ask a man to get rid of his last slice of jerky without some backup.

3. It simply won’t work. Already, eating/drinking on the subway is dissuaded, and, in fact, open beverages are illegal. There are signs. Guess what, people do it anyway — and those who disobey a “suggestion” are always the worst transgressors when it comes to law. Making things illegal just makes those people, yep, sneaky. Sneaky on the subway is bad. It also encourages civilian food narcs, and there’s nothing we hate more than civilian food narcs. (See Spaghetti Incident ’11.)

2. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Despite what we said earlier about our own penchant for water and water alone in transit, it is both New York City right and New York City privilege to consume coffee at any time of day, wherever you happen to be, including on the subway. If you drop the cup or spill, that privilege is revoked and you will be shamed. But like anything else, we should uphold innocence until guilt is proven! And, in fact, open beverages on the train are currently illegal, while lo-mein sucking goes free. How is that right? This is the sort of injustice that arises when we get ban-happy.

1. If people can’t eat like pigs on the subway and engage in epic battles of spaghetti to frighten unwitting tourists and propagate the Internet with clips to amuse our progeny, where will we be, really? YouTube will be a far duller place, and on this particular blog, we’ll have to rely on subway dancers and everyday crazies and that guy who put the rat in his mouth for attention. Like anything else, subway videos should be well-rounded, covering all bases of humanity, and otherwise. After all, it’s a slice of life you’re eating on that N train.