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Eat at Home

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All words by Bethel Habte

*EAT AT HOME.

Three words, nine letters, one confounding asterik, sprawled on white, sometimes yellow, rectangular stickers.

I would trek to the Franconia-Springfield metro from a free parking lot nearby and I’d see the stickers like breadcrumbs on the path toward the station. They’d appear so deliberately out of place on newspaper dispensers, pedx signs (vertically, on the crotch of the stick figure silhouette) light posts, emergency call boxes, even on a parking garage exit sign 12 feet from the ground.

The message is clear enough – skip eating out and eat in. But what’s the maker’s motive? Who’s behind them?

In 2013, one can reasonably expect that a quick Google search could answer these questions. Instead, I found a Facebook page with the same name run by a middle aged mother of four who home schools her children. Not a likely candidate behind the guerrilla campaign.

I found a food blogger on twitter who uses the hashtag (no asterik) #eatathome…but who’s based in Oregon and knows nothing of the stickers. I found Instagram photos of other sticker appearances. Finally, I found reddit threads and blogs of people asking the same questions I am, with no answer as to who’s behind them.

Facts:

1. The stickers populate well-traveled places in Richmond, Va and the D.C. Metro area.

2. The maker(s) and distributor(s) want us, nay command us – with their words in all caps – to eat at home. (And we can assume they don’t mean carry-out).

3. At least one sticker has deviated from the script, reading “*EAT ME”. (I don’t know what to make of that, but rude).

Whoever they are, they’re not interested in being found out, (SEO isn’t rocket surgery) or at least not yet. They are interested in “slow food” home cooking, and getting the rest of us on board.

But would their message resonate if they hit the top of google? The buzz masters, by lurking in the shadows, or at least letting the words speak for themselves, are doing something slow food makes us do – exchange instant gratification for reflection, in the form of a mystery.

I’ve got three words of my own, strangers: I like mysteries.

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  1. Pingback: * EAT AT HOME ‹ CHPN

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