A few curious thoughts by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Admit it!  You have probably invoked the five second rule many times in your life.  Maybe you tend to do it when no one else is around, but you do it nonetheless.  No matter what some in society may say, you can not help yourself.  You may think it just a little bit evil, but you do it anyway.  You may even do it openly, not caring what others may think.  Don’t worry.  They do it too.

In case you are one of the few who have not heard about it and have not followed the widely disputed practice, the “Five Second Rule” is the belief that if you drop some food on the floor, it is alright to eat if you pick it up right away, say in five seconds.  While common sense may speak against such a practice, some science seems to be coming down in favor of what once was folklore or an “old wives’ tale.”  A recent study seems to suggest that a few seconds on the floor does not matter much.  Your wet gummy bears are not likely to pick up much in the way of bacteria if you pick them up right away.the special

Unbelievably, dropping food on your carpet seems to pick up less bacteria than dropping it on your tile or linoleum floor.  Of course, if you own a dog or a cat, the food item may pick up some animal hair or dander you might not want to pop in your mouth.

No matter how clean Fido looks to you, all that rolling around on the floor is not good for your dropped food.  Also, you have to consider that Fido might beat you to the item, in which case your dog has the treat you lost and let’s face it.  Your dog never seems to get sick after eating food off the floor.

While I would not care to eat off my floors, considering what I know, I may be less reluctant elsewhere.  You may have heard that Aunt Matilda’s house was so clean you could eat off the floors.  That may literally be true, although I do not think I would try that on a dare.  She might slap me.  Still, it is good to know that your odds of puking later are greatly diminished according to modern-day science, if your food is not down there too long.

Who funds this type of study, you may wonder?  Who cares?  This particular science is extremely important when you consider the amount of people who drop food on the floor, then pop it in their mouths.  Isn’t it time we got the answer to the age-old question, “Does the five second rule really exist?”  Now we know (perhaps).  There are, of course, studies that say the exact opposite (see link below).  We will ignore them for now.

Life itself also has a rule like the Five Second Rule.  It goes like this. The longer you are down, the more likely you are to pick up dirt.  When you fall down, get knocked down, get tripped up or whatever it is that causes you to land on your butt or your face, it is best if you get right back up and get going.  The world just does not look as good when you have fallen to the floor.

No scientific study is needed here.  Hopefully common sense will tell you. The quicker you get up and clean yourself off the better it is for you.  If it has been a particularly bad day, it can be hard to convince yourself to get off the ground.  You may wish to wallow in whatever is down there.  Just like the food in the study, more is likely to jump on you if you stay put.  It is the nature of life.

There is one more thing to consider while we are invoking scientific studies.  It is a known fact that if you fall and stay down, you will look like a dropped treat to people-eating Cyclops.  In that case one of them is likely to scoop you up and pop you in his mouth.  Another thing to know from the most recent study is that Cyclops have a much longer time, a 5 day rule perhaps.  In that case, wallowing in the muck with one of Fido’s playmates is likely to do you in.  Being chomped on by Cyclops is far worse than eating candy off the floor.  You have been warned.

See also:
“Does the five second rule really work?”

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional


  1. Interesting Post, Rich.

    Just a couple of thoughts…

    Bacteria are everywhere, not just on the floor. The greatest number of bacteria are not outside of us but inside of us – we have around 150 trillion of them – they make up some 85% of our body’s cellular matter.

    We need to ingest bacteria (in limited amounts depending upon their virulence and life-threatening capabilities) in order to build up immunity to them and similar species. The five second rule might come into play here as it might limit the number of bacteria our fallen food picks up but that would largely be dependent upon what it landed on. If it lands on a recently washed floor i’d be more inclined to extend the five second rule; if it landed in a pile of cat poo or the litter tray i’d be inclined to give it a miss all together 😉

    Basically not all things food lands on are equal, so i’d be inclined not to rely on it too much.

    As i bet the research did not go into that too deeply either – i’m less inclined to ‘trust’ science reports these days either for similar reasons. We rarely pay too much attention to the ‘scope’ of any research and just focus on what are often quite purpose-specific conclusions based upon a very restricted set of conditions, believing that the conclusion must be true in most cases when it probably isn’t.

    But that’s probably just me getting way to serious on a fun post 🙂


    Liked by 2 people

      1. Fascinating piece, Rich.

        – A dropped piece of sashimi (RARE occurence) would see me retrieving it in the blur of a second.

        – Dropped pieces of food at our address are almostly instantly seized and consumed by our furry kids, Bonnie and Gibbs. Then they diligently peruse the surrounding area for anything misssed.

        – I stumbled and fell (recently). I lay there feeling dizzy and stupid as Bonnie and Gibbs licked my face.
        They quickly left. No food on my face.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought it was 3 seconds Rich, but then again I was often competing with an animal whose combination of sense of smell and reflexes challenged my own simple visual reference. I did win a lot though….

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Since the children have grown up, the days of eating off the floor are over. They used to be pretty handy at that so I had to keep the floors a lot cleaner than they are today.

    Liked by 2 people

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