Food as Reward is a Taxing Matter


It’s Tax Day, and you know what that means. Free food and drink all over the place:

·        Buy one footlong at Subway, get on free today.

·        Bring in your own reusable mug and Starbucks will fill it up for free – not with a caramel macchiato, unfortunately, but with their own brew.


·        Cinnabon (of all godforsaken places) is giving out two free cupcake bites to everyone today.

Several restaurants are offering 15 percent off of meals – the equivalent of a tip, I suppose. (I always tip at least 20 percent, because it’s easier for me to do the math.) There are some non-food rewards. Staples, for example, is offering 30 pages of free tax return copies. I just have to wonder why in the world anyone would have 30 freakin’ pages to copy in the first place.

Know what I’d like? A free massage. Or a mani and a pedi. A book. A magazine. Dang, how about a pair of socks? Just not a foot-long sub sandwich, because even if you fully intend to only eat half and save the other half for later, our people don’t look the way we do because we stopped after eating six inches.

Food as a reward is always going to cost African Americans, especially, because we love soul food, but it doesn’t love us. Now, we’re careening toward a summer full of graduations, weddings, cookouts and family reunions, and you can count on some collard greens and pound cake at every one of those. It’s tradition. It’s familiar. It’s fun, really. But it’s also killing us.

Some of those family reunions take place because there’s a funeral.

OK, that was depressing and unnecessary. Sorry …

Seriously though, I’d like to see some fresher, better rewards, starting with Tax Day. So instead of a foot-long, 1,000-calorie sub, how about a free scented candle from Pier 1? Or massage oil from The Body Shop? Or bubble bath from Bath & Body Works? How about one of those squishy stress balls from Office Max, a beach ball from Walmart, a dart board from Dick’s or a peace lily from Home Depot?


(How obvious is it I’m late finishing my taxes?)

I’m the first to admit that giving up food rewards can be hard, especially for a celebration. What’s a birthday without birthday cake? In our house, there are three August birthdays, and you’d best believe each gets his or her own cake on that special day.


But not every win, nor every loss – financial or otherwise – needs to be salved with saturated fat. Tax Day? How about a punching bag?

Gotta go. It’s getting late, and I need to get to the post office before it closes – and to Starbucks before they run out of free coffee.


Congress shall also create a tax code weighing more than the combined poundage of the largest member of the House and the largest member of the Senate, plus a standard musk ox.   ~  Dave Barry

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.