Dear Abby Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About

Abigail Van Buren, better known as Dear Abby, has been dispensing advice for many years. One of her first queries came from the wife of a California gold prospector in 1849 who wanted to know how to handle the intense jealously she was feeling when her husband fondled gold bars more than her. Abby told the woman to add some extra baking soda to her cornbread the next time she made dinner and that would remind her husband how lucky he was to have such a fine pioneer wife. Yeah, Dear Abby has been giving shitty advice for over 150 years and she is still going strong. This week, someone wrote the following letter to Abby wanting to know her esteemed opinion:

DEAR ABBY: My cousin’s son is 4 and a picky eater. We love to try new restaurants and cuisines. When we go out to eat, she sometimes brings along a PB&J for her child. Is this acceptable? I always feel a little awkward about it, but then I think the restaurant would rather have us come with something he can eat rather than go to a different restaurant. In her defense, she does have him try the restaurant’s food before she produces the sandwich. — AWKWARD DINER

DEAR AWKWARD DINER: I think it’s perfectly acceptable. Look at it this way: Which is preferable — a child with his mouth full of a PB&J sandwich he’s enjoying, or one who’s loudly complaining that the food is awful and he doesn’t want to eat it?

Hey, Abby: you’re wrong! It is not perfectly acceptable, it’s rude. If the 4-year-old doesn’t like anything on the menu, but the parents of the child are craving something at a particular restaurant, then the parents needs to do one of seven things:

  1. Allow the child come into the restaurant and if it chooses to not order off the menu, let it sit there and be miserable and hungry throughout the course of the meal.
  2. Leave the child in the car to eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that was brought from home.
  3. Force feed the child to eat something off the menu. Intravenous feeding tubes are always available at the hostess stand.
  4. Give the kid some money and a curfew, call an Uber and tell it to go eat wherever it wants to and meet at home later.
  5. Hire a hypnotist to convince the finicky eater that the grilled salmon is actually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. While the hypnotist is there, also hypnotize every customer in the restaurant to tip their servers 50%.
  6. Offer the peanut butter and jelly sandwich but tell the child if they choose to eat it that Santa Claus will put them on the naughty list permanently and then watch them struggle with the moral decision as you record it for a Facebook video that will go viral.
  7. Tell the kid this: I’m ordering you something and you’re gonna fucking eat it.

As you can tell, there are many options for this problem and it’s really very simple. You see, restaurants are in the habit of making and selling food to customers. We are not in the habit of loaning out clean plates free of charge so that people can take up valuable space without contributing any revenue to the business. If that Mom of the 4-year-old always has her child try the restaurant food before producing the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then all they are doing is teaching that kid to refuse certain foods until mom reaches into her purse to pull out something the kids already knows he likes. When will that end? Is this kid going to be 16 years old and still looking at Mommy to whip out a sandwich every time the menu isn’t to their liking?

Abby Girl, please. You have never worked in a restaurant and you don’t know what you’re talking about. Let me handle the restaurant advice from now and you can keep on giving advice on the perfect hostess gift (vodka) and how to keep romance alive in a relationship (also vodka).



13 thoughts on “Dear Abby Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About

  1. Cameron Rose

    Several pediatric nutritionist have stated flatly there’s no such thing as a ‘naturally picky eater’ children will try things if you present them in the right way . Cut things into shapes, make sure nothing is touching, make sure they are hungry first. but parents who bow down to a child who ‘refuses’ (you’re the parent, let them know REFUSING is not an option!) to try new things is just being a bad parent.

  2. Mel

    Also…the parents may want to re-think catering to this kid like that. Sometimes, coddling can potentially skew a kid. Doing this might send the message that he should expect to always get what he wants. At minimum, they could also be setting the stage for him to be reluctant to try new things.

    Yeah, yeah, I know that one little thing like bringing a freaking sandwich to every dinner seems like it can’t possibly be that far-reaching, but if they are willing to do that, kinda makes you wonder what else they do to pander to the kid…

  3. Jenna Comerford

    Commenting as both a 25+ yr (and counting) F&B vet AND the mother of a fairly picky 4 year old, your suggestions are everything. Abby’s response should have included the obvious question “is your cousin an uber-cheap fuck?” because we eat out a lot, and 95% of restaurants have any combination of the words “chicken, bread, cheese, fruit” somewhere on the menu. And the “makes him try the restaurant’s food” blah, blah, blah. Make him finish that shit.

    The babysitter comment is ideal, but it’s not always that easy (says the woman who hasn’t had a date with the hubs since moving to a new state in November…).

    But back to the topic at hand- that kid’s fucked when he leaves home. At age 45.

  4. Jasmyn

    Many restaurants have strict policies about outside food and beverage due to cross contamination not only because of allergies but also because of general food poisoning. Board of health states no outside food and beverages in the lovely state of Florida… so unless it’s an infant breastfeeding or bottle feeding, almost all restaurants I’ve worked at have not allowed the children to eat whatever they wish.

    1. Geo

      Can confirm. The pb&j is bad enough, but we get parents try to bring in happy meals from the clown across the street. Unless it is a baby, NO outside food or drink.

  5. J

    Honestly, I don’t mind when moms bring food for their babies to eat, I’d rather have a full happy baby at a table than a cranky screaming one because we don’t sell food for babies, but 4 is absurd. Unless you’re slipping me an extra 20. At which point I might go with it.

  6. Matt

    Not only that with the prevalence of peanut allergies out there it can be dangerous to the other guests… It’s not all about you/ or your bratty rat.

  7. Joe

    This is gold. If any of you down here make a single remark about the obviously sarcastic suggesstions, go home and flush your face in the toilet.


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