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We all do it, even though we know we probably shouldn’t.
Whether it’s merely snacking to help pass the time or voraciously devouring
lunch while trying to restore the CEO’s files we inadvertently deleted, we all
eat at our keyboard. On any given day, my keyboard is assaulted with fragments
of Hershey’s Kisses, drops of coffee, blobs of spaghetti sauce, and those long,
stringy things that fall off bananas.

During a recent keyboard degunking
attempt, I found myself musing on what would constitute the absolute worst
foods to eat while typing. In making this determination, three factors have to
be considered:

  • The propensity of the food to fall
  • The likelihood of the food becoming attached
    to or inserted into the keyboard
  • The degree of difficulty associated with the
    removal process

With these factors in mind, here are my worst-food

Plain whole grain rice. It falls easily and it’s
likely to end up inside the keyboard, but removing it is relatively easy to
accomplish if it is allowed to thoroughly dry before the attempt is made.

Angel hair pasta. Although not likely to fall, angel
hair pasta exhibits a distinct proclivity for trailing. If the trailing strand
of pasta should happen to be coated with a sticky sauce, it is likely to adhere
to the keys, or even descend between them. Removal from keys is not challenging
unless the pasta disappears completely from sight. If that occurs, removal is
almost impossible. If an end is protruding, grasp it firmly between forefinger
and thumb and gently extract. This process may have the added benefit of
picking up other small fragments which have fortuitously adhered to the sticky

Sunflower seeds with shells. It is impossible to eat
more than 12 sunflower seeds without losing at least one shell fragment
somewhere under the space bar, although this does somewhat depend upon the
seed-shucking method employed. Once in the keyboard, sunflower seeds are
notoriously difficult to remove, as inverting the keyboard usually does little
more than relocate the offending fragments from the base of the keyboard to the
cavity inside a key.

Rice Krispies (with or without
Dry Rice Krispies go everywhere. One
slight puff of air and they are in your hair, on your desk, and infiltrating
the nether regions of your keyboard. Removing them is relatively simple,
however; type vigorously for a few minutes to reduce them to Rice Krispies dust and then apply suction. Wet Rice Krispies are more stable but more difficult to extract.
Even when the sodden Krispies have dried out, they
tend to resist extraction by holding fast to your keyboard’s innards. Rice Krispies treats are a safer alternative.

Jell-O. Jell-O is inherently unstable and apt to
become separated from its means of transportation. Once blobbed on a keyboard,
Jell-O has a tendency to stick to the keys and slide between them, particularly
if the maker of the Jell-O was a little overgenerous with the water. Removing
Jell-O is a sticky, nasty business frequently resulting in keys that never
quite rebound as they once did. Sugar-free Jell-O made with approximately
two-thirds of the recommended water is more likely to bounce than stick.

Cadbury’s Flake. For the uninitiated, this is a
chocolate bar made from an extremely thin flake of chocolate that’s folded back
on itself numerous times.To fully appreciate the flavor-enhancing effect of the
unusual texture, this British delicacy must be experienced at least 20 or 30
times a month.

Eating a Flake over a keyboard is an extremely hazardous
operation, usually detrimental to one’s enjoyment of the experience. It is a
scientific fact that it is impossible to bite a Flake without causing a minor
chocolate meteorite shower. Although the pieces of chocolate don’t interfere
with typing or cause any unusual keyboard noises, Flakes still qualify as one
of the worst keyboard foods because losing so much of this delicious chocolate
is simply tragic. Flakes should be eaten only while lying on one’s back, over a
paper towel to catch and recycle the crumbs, or in a large bowl of vanilla ice
cream. If you must eat a Flake at your keyboard, which is quite understandable,
try substituting its less volatile cousin, Ripple–a chocolate-covered Flake.
Yep, chocolate-covered chocolate; life doesn’t get much better than this.

Keyboard cleaning tips

  • Canned air is your friend–brilliant for removing
    dry particles from the keyboard. Have a dog handy to eat the crumbs as they are
    blasted into space.
  • Alternatively, use a vacuum cleaner to achieve
    the same result, but make sure your keys are firmly attached. It’s just no fun
    digging through a bag of grot searching for the missing keys.
  • As strange as this may sound, some people
    advocate the use of the dishwasher for thorough keyboard cleaning. I haven’t
    tried it, but you can check out this link for detailed information on how to
    perform this intricate operation.
  • Grubby keys can be cleaned with screen wipes. Be
    sure to power off the computer first (pressing a key repeatedly as you clean
    could have some undesired results). Individual keys can be removed and scrubbed
    with hot, soapy water for a more thorough cleaning.
  • For dirty or dusty environments, it may be worth
    investing in keyboard covers, although these do tend to make typing a less
    pleasant experience.
  • Buy a new keyboard–seriously, they are not that
    expensive. As a courtesy to new employees, I always wipe down their monitors
    and supply them with brand new shiny mice and keyboards. There is nothing more
    unpleasant than wondering precisely what that is poking out between the T and Y

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