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Humor | October 19, 2012

Feeding frenzy


A politician has his cake and chokes on it, someone spends $10,000 for 20-year-old barbecue sauce, and lunch restrictions in Rome

Mort Bank holds the gallon of 1992, McDonalds McJordan Barbecue sauce he sold for almost $10,000 in Bismarck, N.D., Tuesday Oct. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/The Bismarck Tribune,Will Kincaid )

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is facing accusations of lying to his constituents over a really sweet deal that didn't pay out quite like he expected. Pittsburgh resident Denise Robinson, 55, claims State Rep. Jake Wheatley welshed on his promise to give $200 to the winner of a community day cake-baking contest. Robinson, whose confection took first place, only got $100 and is suing to get the rest of her prize. Her suit isn't about the money, says Robinson, a paralegal. It's the principle of the matter: "If my state rep will breach a contract for $200, then what is he doing for $200,000?"

I suppose she has a point. Wheatley claims the whole thing was a misunderstanding. Although flyers for the event listed a $200 purse, the prize amount depended on how many people participated in the competition, he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. No matter how he spins it, Wheatley's definitely learned he can't have his cake and eat it too, at least not without paying for it.

Food prices are on the rise, cakes notwithstanding, but this is a little ridiculous. Mort Bank, who once owned a McDonald's in North Dakota, sold a 20-year-old container of McJordan barbecue sauce for $10,000 to a buyer in Chicago. The sauce was used on McJordan Burgers, named for basketball icon Michael Jordan. Restaurants sold the tasty promotional item in limited markets for a short time in the 1990s, when Jordan ensured his spot in the basketball Hall of Fame by leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships. I bet the buyer never even opens that bottle. For $10,000, I'd want Michael Jordan to eat the sauce with me.

Even if I could persuade the former basketball star to join me for dinner, I wouldn't be taking him to Rome. The mayor has made it illegal to eat snacks food on or around the "eternal city's" famous monuments. NBC News reported that tourists are still allowed to eat while they walk, but stop with gelatto in your hand or have a seat while eating lunch, and you could be fined between 25 and 500 euros ($32 to $650). An Italian daily newspaper dubbed the new policy the "War on the Sandwich." NBC News interviewed the Italian officers in charge of handling the food criminals. The officers said they had given out seven citations just that morning.

"We could have given tickets to many more, but you have to apply some reason," officer Magdi Adib said. "If they drink a bottle of water it's OK, but if they camp out, we fine them. Eating on monuments can really get out of control. Once I caught a group of tourists who set a table on the Spanish Steps, with table cloth and cutlery! This has to stop."

One tourist complained that officials hadn't posted any signs explaining the new law. Local policeman said signs weren't necessary. "It's common sense," one officer said. "You can't dirty such a beautiful and historical monument with ice cream and bread crumbs just because you can sit on it."

The officer has a point-it would be a shame for the beautiful and historic city of Rome to fall into ruin, all because of a few crumbs.