I caught the Biter


I caught the Biter.

On and off for a couple of years we have found cheese on the shelf that has been bitten through the plastic. It’s always the Monterey Jack or Mild Cheddar but otherwise there’s no discernable pattern. There first time I saw it happen I just assumed it was rats, the cheesemongers’ nemesis. However, upon closer inspection we realized the teeth marks weren’t rodent, but human. These cheeses weren’t eaten, just bitten into at every corner.

Now, OCD biters are not unheard of. Awhile back we had a produce biter who we had to kick out of the store. Eventually her therapist contacted us and we worked out a deal where she could shop with supervision while she tried to get her problem under control. But she didn’t like cheese. This was a new biter.

We sometimes get acts of sabotage in the cheese department. We assume its vegans of course. Sample toothpicks stuck into cheese on the shelf, cheese hidden out of refrigeration, that kind of thing. We don’t get too much however, because our department also takes care of the vegan “cheese’ and – if I do say so myself – we have the best vegan “cheese” selection in the city. Besides, a vegan wouldn’t bite into cheese. Though a freegan might…

Shoplifting prevention is not my strong suit. I’m easily distracted and, really, just don’t have the heart to figure out which nice, frequent customers are ripping us off and probably have been since 16th St. Still, I could tell that there was something mischievous when I saw a girl about 8-9 years old furtively looking around. I had just tossed two big pieces of Jack in the garbage from human bite marks so I was on alert. Sure enough, she went behind the big Parmigiano Reggiano display, picked up a piece of Jack, looked around, and went for the chomp.

“Hey!” I yelled. She couldn’t have been more red-handed. She looked up at me and I just said, “You can’t do that. Take me to your parent.” She led me halfway across the store and hid between her Mom’s legs while I told her Mom what was up. Mom was mortified and kind of shocked but she apologized profusely and made her daughter apologize also. Then she came back to the counter five minutes later and had her daughter apologize again to everyone working in cheese.

One can wonder or worry about the mental state of the girl or the hard road ahead for the mom, but there really isn’t enough information available from the incident to draw any conclusions. I’m just happy to finally have this mystery solved

17 responses to “I caught the Biter

  1. SG used to do this while teething, but it was always stuff that was in the cart already. Grossed the poor till-workers out, but I only ever bought stuff I was planning to. That poor mama!

  2. i always assume the biters are kids…one would hope.

    • I think that original produce biter made me think adult, but it certainly seems — from the comments — that she was probably the outlier.

  3. There’s some family story of some adult, who, as a child, used to push in the bottom of every chocolate in the chocolate box. Pick one up, poke the bottom, put it back. So nobody could tell from the top whether it’d been manhandled. I think it’s just “being a kid.”

  4. the vegan defense fund would like to point out that vandalism is not purely the work of people who don’t eat dairy!!!

    this totally made my day. THE BITER

  5. this happens to us ALL the time, too. yesterday, it was a piece of fourme d’ambert, retrieved warm and sticky from the vitamin aisle. at least, if it was the same kid, we can assume she’s got a well-rounded palette?

  6. I haven’t had the problem so much at LHF, but when I was at Harmon’s, we had our share of Biters and Hiders… and the hidden cheeses were almost always the blues and stinkers. I remember once an employee brought back a piece of Gorgonzola that looked like a water balloon from sitting in the cracker aisle for who knows how long… and asked, “Is this supposed to look like this?”

    I once found a wheel of St Andre that someone had quite noticeably stuck their thumb into all the way to the palm. Right in the middle of the wheel.

    These days, it’s the chocolate that the Biters seem to go for, though I do have to deal with a number of Pokers… mostly kidlets. Mostly.

  7. I smell a sequel! Bites on the Wedge?

  8. Wow- that realllllyyy bites!

  9. Michael Barrow

    Collect a few more of these and you have your next best-selling book! :))

  10. We had a biter once! Every couple of weeks, we’d find a wedge of Locatelli with a big bite out of it. Turned out to be an old guy who otherwise seemed to possess all of his faculties. Never did figure out what his motivation was.

  11. My sister was a candy bar breaker as a kid. She’d break as many candy bars as possible while we waited in line at the checkout. Maybe you’ve unwittingly purchased her work.

  12. Haven’t encountered any biters, but we have a couple of pokers I have yet to identify. One likes to pop through the plastic whenever there is a hole or indentation in the cheese. Another likes to use their fingernail to puncture the plastic and make little designs in the surface of semi-firm cheeses.

    I don’t usually find cheese in other aisles, but people love to leave anything and everything even remotely refrigerated in the cheese cooler: beer, sandwiches, fruit, chocolate, etc. Maybe they’re giving me some sort of cross-merchandising hint?

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