The local press dutifully reprints government press releases, such as when a local restaurant fails a health-code inspection. People are supposed to get very scared and avoid the place. I suspect that most readers ignore these reports unless the violations are utterly shocking, which they rarely are.
Speaking as someone who has worked in many food-service venues, I can promise you that every restaurant is in violation at some level. Indeed, the whole premise of these inspections is wrong: public-sector bureaucrats have far less interest in food health than restaurants and their customers.
Still, on goes the charade, and it typically targets vulnerable smaller restaurants rather than large and more established ones, which is, after all, part of the point. Anything to smear the competition.
And so the Atlanta Journal-Constitution headlined a claim that would shock absolutely no one: Atlanta Waffle House fails health inspection.
According to the report, an employee did not properly wash their hands before donning new gloves to prepare food. Officials also reported food held longer than seven days and food debris inside reach-in coolers.
That’s it? That’s the great scandal? Surely there are more, hundreds, thousands of violations, at most any Waffle House. They are set up so that every customer can see exactly what is happening in the kitchen. We can see it all. We are not astonished to learn that certain sketchy things are happening.
We are talking about a restaurant where most people pay cash, and no Waffle House accepted credit cards until 2006. Sometimes the clanging of plates, and banter among staff, is so loud you can’t talk. The jukebox plays 45 rpm records. There is a major genre of home-made films that show fights among the staff, all taking place in front of the customer.
We are nearly at the point of going to the Waffle House in hopes of seeing a fight, the way people go to Nascar to see crashes.
Waffle House occupies a special place in American life. It is the last to shut down and first to open in a natural disaster. In fact, even FEMA relies on Waffle House to reveal whether the population has at least some access to food. It is magnificent in being a major employer of ex-convicts, people who have a hard time getting any job at all. It’s the first employment stop for many when they leave the pen.
There is indeed something preposterous about Waffle House being hectored by bureaucrats and heckled by stuffy newspaper reporters.
Sometimes you just need someone to point it out, clearly and with comic erudition. This is exactly what happened after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article appeared. It’s just one of those videos for which you have to say: thank you for making sense.
The beauty of the video (13 million views and a quarter of a million shares) is that he says true things we all know while ignoring the civic pieties over health inspections. He says: customers are smart. We know what we are doing. We keep coming back because the food is cheap and good.
His point about pricing is right. We accept some compromises with our food so that we can pay far less, a huge point to the poor that the rich snobs among the governing elite and journalists can’t begin to fathom, whether it comes to tube socks at Wal-Mart or All-Star Specials at Waffle House. As for his health analysis, it is not crazy.
There is nothing regulators can do to improve our experience. Indeed, the opposite is the case.
In that sense, this video is deeply subversive and reaches to the core history of deep-state control over American life.
After all, how did all our troubles with regulatory control begin? In food inspection. The first major federal intervention dealt with the meat-packing industry. It’s why we still say that no one wants to see sausage being made: it’s basically a smear of a great industry.
Three things to remember about the meat-packing case of 1906. 1) The frenzy was not created by consumers but by the dominant player in the market in order to impose high costs on the competition. 2) Health standards in the industry actually declined after regulation because the mandates themselves were rooted in an unsanitary practice. 3) Upton Sinclair's The Jungle is socialist fiction.
Let’s look at some of the reactions, among 55,000, to the video by KevOnStage:
- Can somebody pulh-lease tell me how he is this hilarious without seeming like he tries? Like he's just going off the dome with back to back jokes. I damn near died from trying hold my laugh in at work. And yes Waffle House looks nasty AF but that food be rockin. You can feed a family of four for $5.87. No complaints from me.
- Currently at Waffle House. We did not ask for this cup of hot water. The waitress just brought it to us and put the knives in...at the table.
- There was a fight in Waffle House ATL Underground and no one moved or got up,. The guys fighting were falling near someone's' table and the guy eating used his elbow(arm) to physically stop them from bumping his table, and when they fell to the floor he continued to eat his food. #dinnerandamovie
- I've OCD.....Waffle House is the ONLY dwelling that doesn't need a 95 or higher on the health inspection poster. Those cheese coated hash browns with bacon are LIFE!!!
- I'm the unit manager at the Waffle House on Georgia Ave. in North Augusta, SC and you will get free All Stars on me anytime you want as long as I'm the manager. Thank you. This is hilarious! My crew loves it!
- Always asked the lady at the WH in MJ, Tennessee for warm syrup and she'd run it under hot water for about 2 seconds and hand you a wet jar of syrup.
- I knew my Waffle House was lit when my waitress served my plate, saw my fresh steak and cheese sandwich and was like "ohh that look good, can I just get a quick bite? I ain't had no break" and with her knife and fork cut off a piece and walked off....in the hood , we share.
- I have cranked out many a procrastinated term paper at 3 a.m. in a Waffle House. Best writing I have ever done. So YES, no one goes to a Waffle House without already knowing that it is probably dirty, there will be a letter on the outside sign that isn't lit up (Waffle Ho is my favorite.) You may or may not get food poisoning, and you are going to have 100 plates for no reason. I haven't had Waffle House in years only because my husband got super sick. It's his own fault for not building up an immunity to it.
- Who wants a clean Waffle House? The food will not be good lol. As long as it's dirty, the workers have about 12 teeth, outside smoking cigarettes, look like recovering substance abusers and the cook has a felony eat up! If it's clean I'm walking out I don't need that type of negativity in my life.
- Omg...two siblings at my local Waffle House share the same pair of dentures. They switch them based on when they are serving or working the grill...once Ms. Lady comes over to my table and realized she didn't have the dentures in. She yelled after her sister working the grill cuz she needed her teeth to be professional. She wrapped them up in a napkin and asked someone at the counter to "pass then down." Literally those dentures were touched by at least 4 people before the got to her...it was amazing!!! Girl didn't even need the polygrips..
- I went to the waffle house.. got in a full on argument with the waitress about.. Who knows it was 3am.. when my food came.. I ate it! It was good! Went the next day and started a fight w her again while picking up my food!! It's like tradition.
- This fool said the floor was 'slidy'! I once saw a dude kill a fly with a dishrag and in one fluid motion, wipe the area by the grill. It was then I learned the 'eyes front' philosophy while dining at WH #youdontknowandyoudontwannaknow
- I was at a Waffle House in Atlanta and saw a guy with a service dog. That wasn't a problem. The problem was that the guy was cooking my waffles then took the waffles off the griddle put them in the service dog's mouth who obediently brought them to my table....Best waffles I've ever had.
- Went to a waffle house few times. Had a check up after, Doctor said, no need for vaccine renewals, your immune system got upgraded 2.0
Like Kevin, I’ll trade in all the regulations for some slidey floors and bacon on a napkin. Humankind struggled mightily for 150,000 years just to get the next meal. Now Waffle House gives it to us whenever we want, rain or shine or hurricane, for under $10, and with a dose of immune-system building grime for good measure. Show some respect for a great institution.
Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.