Getty / Thinkstock
Getty / Thinkstock

10 Declassified CIA Cafeteria Complaints

Getty / Thinkstock
Getty / Thinkstock

Investigative journalism collaborative MuckRock re-discovered a Freedom of Information Act request goldmine: The complaint box from the CIA cafeteria. Jason Smathers and George LeVine each filed separate FOIA requests (Smathers in 2011, LeVine in 2013) and the government had no choice but to divulge these most shameful secrets from the clandestine agency's food court.

What follows are 10 unedited email complaints from CIA employees about their cafeteria. We've ranked each culinary blunder in order based on how much of a threat they pose to our national security. The emails are reprinted as they appeared in their original form, so all misspellings and grammatical errors have been left in (looks like they could have used their own CIA style guide).

We can only pray that the Jazz Salad travesty has since been resolved.

[Check out more CIA cafeteria goodies over at MuckRock]

10. Sandwich Bread Disaster

Subject: Subway and Stale bread

I was very aggrevated at buying subway sandwich and going back to my desk to eat…to find the bread sale and “crunchy” hard…I had to ear the inside and throw the bread out…normally I would return it and have them make me another but I was already at NHB…6th floor…and too far and time consuming to return. PLEASE PLEASE…do not serve us stale bread…I never get stale bread at other subways…so can you lease hold quality control here to subway standards. Thank you

9. Friday Kielbasa Switcheroo

Subject: Friday Breakfast Kilbasa

I purchase the usual Friday Kilbasa this morning and was disappointed to find that FS has changed the brand or this morning’s batch was bad. It doesn’t taste, look or have the same texture as the kilbasa I have been getting from the cafeteria for the past several years. Please change back to the previous brand. This is a Friday treat that I look forward to every week.

8. Diet Pepsi Cloak-and-Dagger

Subject: Wrong Pepsi

Last week and then again this week I have talked to numerous cafe employees to inform them that the pepsi coming out of the regular pepsi spout is diet pepsi. They have the wrong pepsi tank hookled up to the wrong pepsi spout. Yet no one has fixed this problem. Why has this problem not been fixed? Thanks.

7. Unconvincing Russian Undercover Operations

Subject: Today’s Russian Menu

I had the Russian meal today and am disappointed. First of all, to try to be cute with substituting a backward R, a “Ya”, for an R, is tacky. I feel that someone tried to “Americanize” the food so it is palatable to Americans. Please realize that many of us have really traveled to these countries and when you provide food like you did today, it causes me to not support this kind of cuisine in the future. I feel that for example Beef Stroganoff is more American than Russian.

6. Almond Kidnapping

Subject: Breakfast Cereals

As of late there seem to be a shortage of almonds for the breakfast cereals, such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc. I sure I’m speaking for myself as well as others, when I kindly request that whomever is responsible for ordering food supplies note the level of usage and increase the almond purchases/supplies as appropriate. Thank you.

5. Condiment Pump Box Catastrophe

Subject: Main Cafeteria at Headquarters

Please put back the individual packets of ketchup, mustard & mayonnaise. The large pump boxes of these items are not convenient to use, causing frustration & are not liked by many people. Two times this week I heard folks make comments about these pump boxes. There were no containers to put ketchup, mustard & mayonnaise in. When I & others have had to use the pump boxes, we use the containers at the salad bar to put the condiments in. We have to find someplace to put down our food & drink, put the condiments in the container & put the lid on the containers. If people are taking their food back to their office they will need a bag from the cashier to juggle all these items. Comments have been made indicating this process is cumbersom, a pain in the neck & is causing frustration to some people. For these & I’m sure other reasons, it would be appreciated by many to put out the individual condiment packets. Thank you for considering this suggestion.

4. Burger King's Dollar Menu Regicide

Subject: Burger King

Why doesn’t the BK facility here offer the “dollar menu” as the outside facilities. Why can’t there be nicer food handlers? Attitude every day.

3. Chicken Meat Coup

Subject: Senor A’s

I recently purchased the 1/4 White Chicken Platter at Senor A’s. However, I was surprised to see that the portion served was not actually 1/4 chicken. I noticed that a portion of al of the breasts had been cut off and whole breasts were not served. As with the 1/4 Dark Platter being the leg and thigh, the 1/4 white should have been a whole bread and a wing. This needs to be corrected. Thanks!

2. Iced Tea Tech War

Subject: Iced tea in OHQ Careteria

I noticed that the previous Brewed Iced Tea dispensers have been replaced with different dispensers with pipes coming out of the back. This new tea tastes terrible as does most processed tea. Please consider reinstating the previous dispensers or with something that brews the tea close by. Thank you. By and large the cafeteria doesn an excellent job.

1. Jazz Salad Apocalypse

Subject: Jazz salads in Cafeteria

Hi — I’ve sent comments about the jazz salads being misadvertised before, but yesterday takes the cake. The Jazz Salad was supposed to be a Sonoma Grape and Proscuitto salad. This was advertised on the on-line menu, and on the sign above the salad (sometimes they are different). This is one of my favorites, so I stand in line and notice there are no grapes. Grapes are in the title of the salad. I asked about them, and the server pointed to the cherry tomatos, said they are red grapes. I said, “nom those are tomatos, sooooo should I just get grapes from the salad bar”. She didn’t really give an opinion — but I did get grapes from the salad bar, and I did tell the cashier about it (she asked me to write a note — I hope you got the note). I do not condone putting salad bar items into a Jazz salad (I have been known to get a separate container for salad bar items to add to my jazz salad) but felt justified in this case.

However, when an item is in the title of the Jazz Salad, please make an effort to include this item in the actual salad. Thank you.


Subject: Hot bar

The carrots on the hot bar today, 9 January 2013, were amazingly good. Thanks!


Subject: salad dressing

Finally, you have improved the salad dressing set-up…it is GREAT…THANK YOU.


Subject: Great pre-made salad

Hi — the pre-made salads in the cafeterias are very good, but this new one, Southwestern Chicken Caesar chop salad was EXCELLENT. thanks!

8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3

[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.


The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”


If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”


The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).


The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.


Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”


The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.


We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.


Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

Big Questions
Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?

Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at


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