10 Second Rule
January 28, 2009, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I just dropped a deliciously perfect crispy kettle cooked potato chip on the floor and could not bare to see it go. We vacuumed and mopped this wknd (and when I say we, I mean Zach) so I figured what the hell, shouted ’10 second rule!’ out loud to myself and snatched up that tasty chip right off the kitchen floor. Which led me to wonder (Carrie Bradshaw moment..) What’s the deal w the 10 second rule? Who came up with? How has it become so well-known? What are its geographical boundaries, if any? Do people in the deep South use it? People in Montana? I think it has spread to both US Coasts as I have friends in Cali who I’m sure are familiar with, and use, the 10 sec rule when necessary. I allege it is somewhat age specific, as I don’t think my Grandma has ever been known to invoke the 10 second rule. Any info on this is appreciated.




12 Comments so far
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I don’t know about its origin, but the rule has definitely gone international. In Russia, apparently, the saying goes “Promptly picked up is not considered fallen.”

Comment by OKComm

See now I thought that was an ancient Chinese proverb? xo

Comment by speropolis1

I’ve often wondered about this too although I’m sure we’ll never get an answer.

And, Hey! I was really excited to have heard you have a blog…because you aren’t on myspace but that’s cool. Blogs are much more fullfulling. Anyways, nice getting a Northern State update. Hope you’re doing well. Stay Warm.

JHO from DC

Comment by Jessica

aww thanx jho! totally appreciate it. yeah, myspace is not my thing! blogs r more fun! xo

Comment by speropolis1

We definitely use the 10 second rule in Canada….we don’t usually go past 10 seconds though as there is a pretty good chance the item will be frozen solid!

Comment by North of the 49th

HA! good point! thnx for weighing in with the Canadian perspective!

Comment by speropolis1

We definitely have the 10 second rule here in Canada. We do not go over 10 seconds though as there is a good chance that the item will be frozen solid by then!

Comment by North of the 49th


i have some concern about this so-called “10 second rule”… in deepest western new york, the rule is either 3 or 5 seconds in length. i first learned of it whilst working the grill at mcdonald’s. and yes, we gave the burgers a full 5 seconds on the, ahem, clean floor before inserting them into big macs. my real concern, though, is that you don’t drop anything moist on my grandmother’s oriental carpet. thanx!


Comment by William Williams

I generally abide by a 5 second rule. However, all is a matter of opinion. I believe location should be taken into consideration. For example, in public areas, time is of the essence. As soon as one realizes they would like to salvage a food item dropped, it should be picked up faster than one can say “Five second rule.” With one’s own kitchen floor, time is negligible. Consume as one sees fit. Also, the moisture content and surface area of the food item is important. Let’s compare a skittle with a pickle slice. The curved hard surface of a skittle minimizes any transfer of germs from floor to food. A pickle slice is flat and wet. Germs are more likely to stick to it and in greater amounts, unless one rinses it off. But that is a whole other discussion… :p

Comment by Bri

According to the “Mythbusters” episode (yes, i watch the shit out of the Discovery Channel) — They found that the amount of bacteria that was picked up depended on the moisture of food, the surface geometry of food, and the location that it was dropped on, but there was no correlation to the amount of time it was dropped.

Comment by Zach

The 3/5/10 second rule can be tricky. There are definite exceptions to its application. For example, pudding. Then there is the situation where you drop some morsel on the floor and you are just about to pick it up and pop it in your mouth when you realize, “Hey, I wasn’t really lovin’ that – might as well just leave it on the floor.” As you can see, this is not a hard and fast rule, such as “Finders keepers, losers weepers” or “Always listen to your Mom.”
Your Mom

Comment by Frannie

In the South (most specifically North Carolina), we generally abide by the 5 second rule, but the severity of this rule depends where you are and on which type of surface. Personally if I drop something on a surface where someone generally walks (i.e.- kitchen floor), I do not take any chances.

PS – I demand a NS concert in Raleigh! 🙂

Comment by JH from Meredith

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