or A Treatise on the Classifications and Grades of Costless Consumption

Grade A: Free food for those that don't need free food.

"Interviews with Romain (A beer and wine industry lobbyist) and lawmakers indicate the spouses alone received about $5,500 worth of the free food..." --from Modern Brewery Age
There were seven spouses, which equals to about $785.72 per wife of politician. This amount was spent in a total of 6 days, so about $130.95 dollars a day of free food. If you can manage it, it's not exactly a bad deal.

Grade B: Free food as mass-market advertising

Example: McDonald's road2rewards program
"This program (along with other programs done by companies like Evian) demonstrates an emerging model of loyalty for the future. Companies that cannot directly track customer transaction data will be well served by self-reported on-line programs."--www.loyalty-rules.com

Back in the day, they just handed you the coupons at the dentist's and when Smokey the Bear came and talked to Mrs. Snoddgrass' fourth grade class. Just pulled out the trusty calculator, and with the rewards program you get a free value meal for every (drum roll please) $62.50 you spend. Maybe I ought to take this off the free food section...

Grade C: Specialty meats.
Originally limited to what your thrifty feline friends brought you at night, newly enlightened state legislatures are allowing all sorts of tasty treats.

Example: "Tennessee seems to lead the pack when it comes to these things making the national news. A couple of months ago the New York Times ran an article detailing the legislature's program for the spring. They were most interested in the bill which would make it legal to pick roadkill off the road and eat it without telling state wildlife services. Tennessee has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, by the way. "-- The Daily Illini

God bless my home state.

Grade D: The Fruitcake.

Example: "According to Rose Murray, a Canadian cook, fruitcakes taste better when they’re created weeks before the holidays. They become moist and mellow and improve in flavor, especially for those aged in alcohol or even fruit juice. The cakes keep well for months, sometimes years, if stored properly." -- Farm Service Agency, sponsored by tax-backed dollars.

Grade AA:
"I like kids, but I don't think I could eat a whole one"--

New York City

Here's something that disproves "There is no such thing as a free lunch." Well, it's not lunch, but it's breakfast and dinner free but for the trouble of a little walk (or subway ride) out of one's way. It's Grade A free food according to "A Treatise on the Classifications and Grades of Costless Consumption," located hereinabove.

How to be prepared

  • Dress can be casual, but should be clean and stylish.  Business attire is best, though; just a jacket.  No need for a tie.
  • Your goal is to look like you're a weary business executive trying to relax and refresh a bit.
  • You can't look like a tourist, nor gawk at everything.  You need to stride confidently about.  If you look like a wide-eyed ragamuffin from Podunksville in the midwest this may not work for you.
  • If you're self-conscious about the minuscule chance you'll be discovered, your admission card will be mailed to you upon application for Hilton Hhonors membership. Application is free. Click on the Hilton Hhonors tab at www.hilton.com.

When in New York, visit the Hilton Hotel "New York" at 1335 Avenue of the Americas (equivalent to 6th Avenue; Avenue numbers get higher as you go westward) in-between West 53rd and West 54th Streets.  Take the No. 1 or the A Subway line to the 50th Street station (local stop).  The New York Hilton is a very large "glass box" that is elegant in its slenderness. ( Late Night with David Letterman is shot in a studio one block west at the corner of 7th Avenue and 53rd Street.)

Modus Operandi

The elevators to the Hilton Hhonors™ lounge are located on the Avenue of the Americas side of the building; the parking garage is on the opposite side of the building.  Take the elevator to the 44th floor. The "Executive Lounge" is on your left after you exit the elevator and face the hallway wall (and the entrance to the Presidential Suite).  Now is the time to act and look the part. The Executive Concierge will be on the right, along with a sign that says "Hilton Hhonors Members Only." Cast your gaze to the left, head straight for the bar and sit down.

If you're stopped by a member of the staff on the way in, show the Hilton Hhonors Card that you got in the mail according to procedure described hereinabove. It's good to accompany flashing the card with a creative white lie like "I'm waiting for my Sales Manager to get here to check-in."


  • A breakfast buffet is served starting at about 7 o'clock in the morning and is cleaned up by 11:00.  Good stuff, including scrambled eggs, sausages, french toast, and both bread and fruit displays.  Coffee is free.  Juices are available at the handsome little bar off to the side for about US$3.50.
  • The bar opens at noon.  There's no food out but for bar snacks.  There is no charge for water nor soft drinks, but there's a charge for cocktails, beer and wine.  The prices are on the low side of moderate in New York City terms.
  • Hors d'oeuvres that really consist of a light supper are put out in the afternoon about 4:30.  The fruit and cheese display, which includes good brie, is refilled throughout the evening, until the food ceases at about 9:00 p.m.

The View From The Top

The sweet part about the New York Hilton is that the place that serves you all these goodies, the Executive Lounge, has floor-to-ceiling windows which face East, South, and West.  The view will take your breath away (unless you work in a high-rise and are jaded about these things).  There are seating areas with chairs and tables near the windows, and sofas and coffee tables farther into the room.  Nibbling on a shrimp in puff pastry canape accompanied by a lovely Sauvignon Blanc at the classy little bar whilst watching the world go by out the windows is kinda like being rich for a night.




photograph:  http://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/content/NYCNHHH/media/images/NYCNHHH_Hilton_New_York_accom_executive.jpg

It was pointed out that even a free lunch isn't ultimately free. This is generally true. Every meal you take, borrow, or steal probably takes something from some other poor bastard.

This writeup details a few of my favorite methods of obtaining free food. I developed the methods before reading Abbie Hoffman's Steal this Book, but he's covered more methods, in better detail, than I ever could. Read Steal this Book. Thank me later.

For the Really Desperate

At the end of the day, most bakeries get rid of their unsold, stale bread. If you don't make yourself too much of a nuisance, you can usually convince an employee to set aside some bread for you, or just pick up any bread they toss in the dumpsters behind the bakery.

An increasing number of bakeries donate their unsold bread to local homeless shelters, so the only bread they toss out is too stale to eat except in cases of extreme desperation.

For those Who Like Acting

College campuses are a good place to pick up free food. Your ideal campus is one which is separated from the city, the type of place where security isn't constantly watching out for nefarious types sneaking around.

Show up on campus at about midnight. Find a few frat houses. Wander inside, make friends, and help yourself to any appetizers you see. Try to seem just drunk enough to avoid much socializing, just wander, smile, laugh, and eat.

I don't really like this method. Parties don't tend to have much food, so this technique works more as a novelty "just to say you did it" type thing. If you actually need food, these other methods work much better.

For those Who Feel Fancy

Find a hotel. Nicer hotels are harder to use this technique on, but have better food. Arrive early, no more than an hour or so after they've started serving complementary breakfast. Make sure that your clothes match the style of your hotel - fanny packs and shorts for your typical Holiday Inn, business clothes for your typical Marriot or Hilton.

If you're questioned, you can get out of most trouble by leaving to "get your key". The security doesn't care what excuse you use to leave, their only concern is keeping undesirables away from the guests.

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