Applebee's Over-reaction

Hi Readers — The other day, a toddler at an Applebee’s was accidentally served alcohol instead of juice. It’s appalling — the mom said she knew something weird was going on when he started saying “Hi!” to the walls —  but the bottom line is: The child was unharmed and this was  one single incident. In fact, it was an incident so modest and local, it is bizarre that it made kafntrktar
the news.
It’s not like this was a terrorist attack. It was one stupid mistake. But as a result, Applebee’s went into OMG mode (probably out of fear of lawsuits as well as bad publicity) and from now on, it says, it will re-train all its employees and use only SINGLE SERVE juice drinks.

So now every kiddie drink has to be individually packed.  I think this is ridiculous, not just for ecological reasons, but for common sense reasons, too. If a child gets hot soup spilled on them at Applebee’s — God forbid — should Applebee’s stop serving soup? Or only serve cold (but not TOO cold) gazpacho from now on? Should it ask patrons ordering soup to sign some sort of waiver, or don heat-proof aprons, just in case?

What the alcohol incident (and official reaction) represent is the fact that though sometimes things go wrong, we cannot accept that anymore. We individuals have been trained to over-react, as has corporate America. We treat minor, even one-in-a-million, problems as major affronts. And then we try to “fix” them, even if there’s very little, if anything, to fix. It’s almost as if we have come to believe that if we just plug every pinhole in the universe, we will all be absolutely safe and sound forever more.

This is the same mentality that says we must issue a recall for any product that anyone has ever hurt themselves on, even if the product is basically very safe. A couple of months ago I read the recall of a table that had a screw protruding from the bottom of the table top. A dog had gotten its hair caught in it. Sad, yes. But worthy of a recall? Can we PLEASE accept that there is some risk in the universe? Or at least some risk under a cheaply made table?

So far I have no proof that we are that mature.  And so we spend a lot of time and money (and political air time) saying things CAN be perfect, and looking for someone to blame when — well gollllly — they aren’t.

NEWS FLASH: Life is not perfect. Sometimes things to wrong. When they’re not too terrible, could we please stop acting as if they are? And when they aren’t anyone’s fault, can we please stop pointing fingers? And, by the by, when there’s no one else to blame, can we please stop blaming parents? — L.

Its not like they gave the kid a whole bottle...

, ,

170 Responses to Applebee's Over-reaction

  1. Lisa April 20, 2011 at 4:43 am #


  2. Lynn Landry April 20, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    A-friggin-men!!!! I just can’t believe the reaction to this. I also wonder if people have this idea that only “other’ people make mistakes. This reminds me of the parents who were willing to vote for a “green”magnet elem. school in my town where they’d have to all drive their kids to that so-called “green” school because alas, we have no school bus system because we have NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS where we can now WALK our kids to school, or, in some cases, the kids can walk by themselves!

  3. Frances Locke April 20, 2011 at 4:44 am #


  4. Luckyne April 20, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    Really???? This where your going with this…

  5. Me April 20, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    It happened at a Chili’s on the S.Side of Chicago this weekend too.

    As a parent of small kids, it is sorta freaky. And if we happen to go to one of those places I may take a sniff of their drink first…at least until I forget to do so and move on with my life.

    But we’ve gotten to a point where an “oh em gee, we are so sorry, here’s a comp meal/we’ll pay the ER co-pay/bill if you want to take young kid in” doesn’t work. Instead of hailing the MANAGER, this woman summoned the police first. Everything has to be a media event. 5 minutes of fame and all. And yeah, I feel badly for the kids, hangovers suck as an adult, I can’t imagine they’re any better for small kids.

    So what SHOULD the lesson be? In my mind…waiters/waitresses, double check your orders, shadow new wait staff for longer? Anything further…not really.

  6. kcs April 20, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    Hee Hee. At our church, we only serve grape juice for communion. But once when my son was about six we visited a friend’s church. After he received the cup, my son’s eyes got huge and he said really loudly, Wow! That is NOT grape juice! I don’t remember this being traumatic for anyone involved.

  7. Marcy April 20, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    The reaction is stupid because the incident was one in a million, but the child did come very close to dying of alcohol poisoning. From another story about the incident:

    “Doctors told the parents if the boy had drank any more of the alcoholic beverage, he could have died. WJBK-TV reports Dominic the child’s blood alcohol level was .10 percent. That’s over the legal limit for an adult driver.”

    What I don’t understand is why anyone would want to eat at Applebee’s in the first place.

  8. Juliet Robertson April 20, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    It is a sad situation. On the opposite extreme, yesterday a parcel came through the post for me. I was surprised as I hadn’t ordered anything from the company, I’d only asked for some leaflets to distribute.

    When I opened the package there were 8 lengths of hemp rope of different thicknesses and really sharp bush knife and a canvas bag.

    Now imagine if I had been a paranoid parent and the parcel had been addressed to J Robertson – which could also be my son… !!!

    After all a knife, rope and bag to hide the “evidence”… my mind runs riot!

    Oh I sent an email to the company and thanked them for the surprise gift!

  9. Jrmiss86 April 20, 2011 at 4:52 am #

    Unless it has happened again, this is old news. This happened a few years ago, with the exact same reaction from Applebees, and it didn’t last more than a few months.

  10. zinkemom April 20, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    ****“Doctors told the parents if the boy had drank any more of the alcoholic beverage, he could have died. WJBK-TV reports Dominic the child’s blood alcohol level was .10 percent. That’s over the legal limit for an adult driver.”****

    Not to many years ago the legal limit in Michigan was .10 percent. I’m sorry but I don’t think the boy would DIE from that. A headache yes. Cotton mouth yes. Maybe keep his Big Wheel off the road yes.

  11. Brenna April 20, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    I know we hate to point fingers at Mommies, but why didn’t she notice her kid was acting weird sooner?

  12. Lucy April 20, 2011 at 5:00 am #

    The parents should be grateful CPS hasn’t rushed in to remove the child from their custody. Yet.

    It’s happened for less

  13. DJ April 20, 2011 at 5:00 am #

    As a corporate Training and Development professional, I fail to see how retraining all the employees solves the problem of a “mislabeled container”. That does NOT sound like a training problem to me. (Unless they’re going to train them to sniff the drinks before serving them, which is just gross.)

  14. katie April 20, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    As a mom and a bartender I can see both sides of this. However the chili’s case was much different and the beverage was served in the proper barware. I dont know of anyplace that serves a childs shake in that kind of glass. As for t he applebees case- it was a mistake. the reports are wrong. the child was released at the scene. My husband manages for them and I have had access to the some of the things the media is not reporting.

  15. Robin April 20, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    You know we’re going to start getting new “tips” on how to be a better mother. Now we’ll be required to taste all of their food before they eat it “just in case.” Imagine the surprise on your friends faces when you tell them that you’ve packed littly johnny his own snacks when he gets dropped off at your house to play…

  16. Diana W April 20, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    I’m sure they thought if they went to FAR ENOUGH MEASURES to assure this will never happen again and apologize profusely enough then the parents wouldn’t sue….they were wrong! Exactly what the knee jerk reaction of Applebee’s was trying to avoid.

  17. socalledauthor April 20, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    @Marcy– the .10 alcohol level that’s often reported differs from the data in the police report ( Margarita mix is not straight alcohol and to get a .10 level would require more than a toddler-sized drink.

    Given that children used to be given a shot of whiskey in their bottle for teething and that children in other countries drink wine with dinner starting at a young age, I’m not sure the fear of alcohol poisoning and death for this tot is truly in line with facts about alcohol consumption.

  18. Diana W April 20, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    By the way, this is local to me and it just happened about a week ago. My husband just said, “Well there goes another law suit!”

  19. CF April 20, 2011 at 5:10 am #

    Many years ago, an Applebees in California told us that they couldn’t give ANY silverware to our daughter (age 7 or 8) because one child (ONCE) stuck a fork in their neck. The parents had to request silverware and give it to the kids to reduce the restaurant’s responsibility.


  20. Me April 20, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    @DJ, I’m assuming that is in response to my comment that one appropriate reaction would be better/more training. The manager of Chili’s (the one on the S.Side of Chicago) specifically stated that the waitress involved was new and did not know that alcoholic frozen drinks and non-alcoholic frozen drinks were served in different types of containers.

    She picked up the alcoholic drink from the drink area in the alcoholic drink glass and gave it to the child. The waitress did not know that the type of glass signified there was alcohol in the drink. I think better training would have prevented that incident.

  21. Me April 20, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    Also I would say it would make sense in the Applebees’ one look into it and see how/why the juice container was mislabeled. WAS there an issue that needed to be addressed? It’s entirely possible that there was nothing that anyone would have done differently that would have caught the error beforehand, but it does make sense to take a look. (Unfortunately a lot of people conclude that means that some sort of policy change must go into effect…even if the original policy was fine and someone just made a goof.)

  22. RobynHeud April 20, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    I hate the advice that we taste our children’s food/drink before they eat it. It brings to mind medieval times where the king and other nobility had poison checkers (people who essentially wouldn’t be missed) eat their food and drink first so any ill effects would likewise befall them first. Is that really how society views parents? As a disposable means to ensure the safety and comfort of our precious little kings and queens? I think it’s atrocious that we’ve gone from a world where children were expected to carry their own weight as soon as they were able to a world where any weight is too burdensome for them to bear.

  23. Nicolas April 20, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    Who hasn’t known a child, or several, whose demeanor wouldn’t be improved by an intoxicating libation?

  24. Beth April 20, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    To whoever said that this happened years ago, the article is dated 04/12/11 and it said that it happened the previous Friday?

    Anyway, the first time I saw this incident in the press (don’t remember where), the comments were the most amazing part, chastising the mother for not checking the child’s food and drink before he could partake. Some even said that they never let a morsel pass their child’s mouth that they have not seen prepared.

    Having never seen a mother in a restaurant kitchen overseeing preparation of her child’s food, I wonder if this is just something women say because it makes them sound like the world’s very best mother, even if they aren’t one in real life!!

  25. Alison S. April 20, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    I recently learned of an incident involving some mischievous 8-year-olds allegedly absconding with (and allegedly consuming) the wine at a local Reform Temple. Apparently the kiddos wanted a chaser for their challah. So how should THAT be handled? Lynch the rabbi?? Outlaw Shabbat potlucks?

  26. Fiona April 20, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    I know it’s not very nice, but I wish she’d filmed it an put it on youtube. A drunk toddler is not something I’m ever likely to see, and”Talking to the walls”, sounds hilarious!
    Will now go and hang my head in shame for laughing at their misfortune.

  27. jrmiss86 April 20, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    Beth, like I said, unless it has happened AGAIN. This did happen at Applebees a few years ago, I remember going there for dinner for my son’s birthday dinner and getting a juice box with his kids meal, when we asked why, we were told about a incident just like this. We went home and googled it. So as others have said it is not an isolated incident.

  28. RobynHeud April 20, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    A lot of people have said that this isn’t an isolated incident or that it happens way too often, but let’s run the numbers instead of thinking about the horrible trend of three children being accidentally served alcohol in the last five years. (I know that’s just at Applebee’s according to the article, but still). It may seem like it’s a chronic problem, but it’s not. When someone can get me the number of children who eat at Applebee’s annually, we can do the math and see it’s not an epidemic.

  29. SKL April 20, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    I was surprised that some of my conservative blog-mates were saying “sue their pants off” over this. I saw on another blog where this can happen because the restaurant staff sneaks alcoholic drinks on the job, and they put them in kiddy cups to reduce suspicion. Bad, but manageable, no? Retrain, discipline, enforce rules that are presumably already in place.

    I am upset to hear that some people are publishing exaggerated reports of how this child was “hurt” or “could have died.” How is that helpful? The kid got drunk, yes, but he was and is OK.

    Of course Applebees needs to be liable for the parents’ aggravation and the cost of the ER and all of that. Applebees screwed up. But the fix needn’t be to make it “humanly impossible” to make another mistake. Whenever you make something humanly impossible to screw up, i.e., dumb it down, people no longer put any real thought into it, and that will lead to problems down the line.

    In addition, if this is seen as a good change, then all the competing restaurants will do the same thing. And that doesn’t seem to be good for the environment, nor cost effective.

  30. Jrmiss86 April 20, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    Oh, I forgot to add that my original point was that they have made these changes before and they didn’t last. Parents were not happy so they went back to the old way of doing things and I don’t think they are going to last this time.

  31. SK April 20, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    At Denny’s years ago one of my children got Apple Juice that had started turning in to Apple Jack. No we didn’t call the police. We told the wait person and she corrected the mistake, let the back area know what happened and we went on with our lives.

    What I took out of that was Not enough children ask for Apple Juice instead of Soda. It was an honest mistake.

    People need to take a deep breath and not assume harm was meant.

  32. dmd April 20, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    Stupid. When I was a kid, my grandfather would give me sips of his Schlitz beer. NOT good behavior, but it didn’t kill me. Big mistake, Applebees say you’re sorry, story over.

  33. Lisa April 20, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    Brilliant Lenore! I hope corporate Applebees sees your post, along with the rest of corporate America. And all of America. Sheesh.

  34. BrianJ April 20, 2011 at 5:55 am #

    Fiona – look up “David after Dentist” on YouTube. That’s pretty close. And pretty funny.

  35. EricS April 20, 2011 at 5:56 am #

    In a business stand point, I can understand their fears and their need to protect themselves from opportunists looking to make a quick buck. But in terms of common sense, and dealing with very rare incidences like this, I think it is a little over the top. Not only does the company have to spend (unnecessarily) more money retraining, but also re-packaging children’s drinks. And that’s not just for the ONE location, they would have to do it all for ALL their chains. This also shows the state of the world we live in, too many people are becoming to fearful, because they are afraid that someone, somewhere is going to sue them or report them. These suing and reporting people do it, because they have learned they can, because they know people are to scared to stand up for themselves and will easily cave in to their demands. Kinda sounds a little like terrorists tactics don’t it? People just have realized, the more we give in, the more we are worse off.

  36. EricS April 20, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    @dmd: I agree. A sincere apology would be good enough for me. Maybe throw in a free dinner voucher for the family. Done.

    By the way, my uncle gave my cousins beer all the time (age 7 – 10). Well not all the time, but whenever our families got together and they were drinking beer, he’d give it to my cousins if they asked, and only a small cup full. I tried it once when I was 7, and it was the worse thing I had ever tasted. So I’m guessing if that toddler hadn’t had beer before, he’d be spitting it out and making funny faces. Unless he was used to the taste. Just saying. lol

  37. Micki April 20, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    @ Brenna…. I am puzzled by your post…..

    “I know we hate to point fingers at Mommies, but why didn’t she notice her kid was acting weird sooner?”

    You realize, you just did, in fact, point the finger at the Mommy, right? For the fact that her child was served the wrong drink by someone else. Alcohol takes time to hit the system, the child can slurp down a drink in seconds, and not start ‘acting wierd’ until several minutes later.

    And as a parent, I will attest that my child has often acted wierd. Hysterically, puzzlingly, and embarassingly wierd, and never yet has any alcohol been involved.

    Please, please be careful with this line of thinking. It sounds very close to blaming the mom for an unforseeable accident.

    And in another tangent…I read the parents are filing a lawsuit for their suffering. Typical.

  38. Hattie April 20, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    Oh.My.Word. Seriously? The quantity of alcohol that is actually in most of those mixed drinks is really not much anyway. Yes it was scary that it happened with a toddler but as there was no harm can we not just get over the CYA spin control? Jeez.

    As a 13 yr old I was served a real pina colada in Mexico due to a communication glitch. I had to go outside for awhile but was fine and everyone had a good laugh and it was not a big deal even though the waiter apologized. I still like them!

  39. Leanne April 20, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    My then 2yo son kept sneaking drinks from cups of rum and cokes, etc during our wedding. If a drink was abandoned on a table, it’s likely our son took a drink our two from the cup. We didn’t really realise anything was up – we figured his crazy behaviour was just him being crazy and partying, because he used to get over excited and a little crazy in that way – until someone spied him. There’s no knowing how much booze got into him, but he survived just fine. 🙂

  40. C. S. P. Schofield April 20, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Applebee’s is (probably) reacting this way because they are aware that there is a resurgence of Prohibitionist sentiment in this country, and these people are not even slightly reasonable. MADD has gone so far overboard that its founder has distanced herself from the organization.

    The Neo-Prohibitionists are the ones that have hysterics when any state considers doing away with state controlled alcohol sales. They are the buttinskis who make sure that drinking age laws have little or no leeway for exceptions under familial supervision. They do not acknowledge that Prohibition was a disaster. And they seize on incidents like this to drive their deranged agenda.

    Applebee’s is trying to come up with a solution that will make the Neo-Prohibitionists sound unreasonable when they demand to know why a “family restaurant’ needs a liquor license.

  41. Jackie April 20, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    This story is local for me as well, and I would agree with those posters here who have said that, in general, there was truly no harm done to the child. As usual, the TV coveage was chock full of exaggeration/hyperbole. The blood alcohol level was not .1 as some believe, nor was the child “close to dying”. Ridiculous exaggeration of the situation, which of course leads to the outcry on the radio and blog posts. Unfortunate mistake, yet still a mistake. I have video of my little 2 year old self drinking from my uncle’s beer can one summer. Two sips only, but no harm done. Apparently when I was 4 I begged my dad and uncles for a drink of their Wild Turkey-they gave it to me, I drank some, lost my breath, cried, and haven’t had much to drink since. So maybe this young child won’t drink alcohol when he’s older?? 🙂

  42. kherbert April 20, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    They needed to take some corrective action and fix how things were labeled. I don’t like the single servings though.

    The story I saw went into more detail and included that there had been several incidences and some were deliberate – with left over mixed drinks being put in kids sippy cups. (GROSS)

    I can think of 2 times this happened to kids/underaged people in my family.

    1. I was elementary age and kept complaining my coke tasted bad. I was told to be quiet and drink it or water. Then my Mimmi heard the guy at the next table complain his rum and coke had no kick. She took a sip of my coke and called the waiter over. She whispered there had been a mix up and I had been served the rum and coke.

    The waiter took my drink and the drink from the guy at the other table and went to the back. The manager and the owner of the chain (local chain) came out and apologized to all of us. The other table got a comp. The owner knew that our table couldn’t take a comp because of Dad’s job. She made a sincere apology and promised Dad that she would be retraining everyone involved in the mix up and looking at procedures. Simple change was made. Regular soft drinks were served with white napkins, mixed drinks were served with red napkins.

    2. I was in university but underaged. I took my young cousins out to lunch and then Ice Skate. After we ordered our drinks (virgin daiquiris) and appetizers, I ran to the bathroom. When I got back the 5 and 8 year old were sitting with the drinks in front of them. The 8 yo whispered Kimberly they made a mistake this taste like Mom and Dad’s daiquiris.

    At the same time a group of slightly older girls took their drinks to the counter and complained that they were virgin drinks and were given new drinks. If the bartender, manager, and waitress had simply given us new drinks that would have been the end of it.

    They refused – saying nothing was wrong with them and we were just trying to get a comp. I told them flat out NO I just wanted the drinks we ordered because an 8 and a 5 yo should not be drinking. Finally I told them to cancel our order and paid for the drinks and left.

    We ate across the mall. They got a nasty surprise the next day.

    See the reason my family couldn’t accept a comp – Dad was a beer distributor. TABC can interpret comps and bribes in some situations and Dad was a stickler for rules and would only accept if peanut contamination was involved.

    I told Dad what had happened and he had me file a complaint with the TABC. Turns out the restaurant was already in trouble and they got a massive fine.

  43. Meagan April 20, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    One of the things that irritates me about this is that if they’d been following their own rules (and the health department’s rules) and NOT FILLING EMPTY APPLE JUICE CONTAINERS WITH ALCOHOL, this wouldn’t have happened. So maybe instead of changing the rules, they should just train them to follow the rules already in place.

  44. Kate April 20, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    You seem to have this big bugaboo about recalls. You do realize that not every recall is “clear the shelves! send everything back!” right?

    For instance, my daughter’s crib was recently recalled. The remedy was to contact the manufacturer for four replacement screws to make it right. The recent recall for the Arms Reach Cosleeper had a remedy of the parent to review the current assembly instructions and verify that it is properly assembled.

    Yes, there is risk in the universe. Does that mean when people find out that there is something wrong with their product or process that they say “oh well, things happen!” The idea of a recall is to say “hey, we just learned about this and we’re telling you how to fix it.” Sometimes they decide it’s easier to remove the product from the market or the home, but many times, it’s a simple fix.

    Please don’t be dismissive of this.

  45. AlanaM April 20, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Yep, sh&t happens. I drove 15 miles to my dentist to find out they gave me the wrong date. Did I flip out? No I realized mistakes happen and went on with life.

    My ds accidently drank the last of my pina colata that I left on the table when he was 9 months old. I was totally out of it and he leaned over and drank the watery dregs. We still snicker about it (after watching him for a few hours).

  46. Mompetition April 20, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    I do not applaud their decision to use single serving juice boxes, however I can’t blame them for it either. It’s the world we live in I suppose. In this situation I don’t know if Applebee’s had a choice though, due to Joe Public reaction to such an event.
    My husband and I went out to eat at a local chain the other night and the waiter assured us the water in their cups was poured himself. Poor guy, he probably has gotten bombarded by Mommy/Daddy Paranoia demanding to check all kiddie drinks for purity.

  47. Donna April 20, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    When I was 2, my parents threw a party and I walked around taking sips out of people’s glasses. Got very silly before my parents realized it. No negative repercussions.

    Sure, if this was my kid, I’d be annoyed, but stuff happens. An apology, comped meal and following rules to make sure alcohol isn’t put in Apple juice containers is all that’s required.

  48. Margie C April 20, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    All I can say is that I would have been angry if that drink had been served to my child. I don’t know what I would have done in this circumstance. I would hope that I wouldn’t have over reacted, but I can’t say-it’s not my child who was served the alcohol. I do know that I would have been very angry at the establishment and my “mama bear” would have kicked in…….

  49. Rachel Federman April 20, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Have to agree with EricS I’m surprised the toddler didn’t react to the taste. That’s not to blame the mom one tiny iota but just to say I’m surprised. I too was allowed to drink beer & wine as a child (tho not a toddler) and found the taste repulsive for the longest time.

    I wonder where this mindset comes from re: the refusal to allow any risk in our lives (I still come back to how on EARTH people drive cars if they’re that worried about any possible risk to their children’s safety).
    I can think of two recent events that I’m now rethinking. 1) In a pizza place a few years ago my chair collapsed and I fell to the floor in a rather sudden and jarring way. The waitress brought me a new chair. My back hurt for a few weeks. (We didn’t even get a comped Diet Coke.) 2) My OB-GYN made a mistake and didn’t notice until month 6 of my pregnancy that I’d been anemic the entire time. She looked back at the blood records then and said someone must have forgotten to mention it. I don’t even remember anyone apologizing for either. Both fell under the “sh*t happens” category. The 2nd one had some implications for my offspring, but still fell under the idea that there are mistakes and imperfections. Both of these are EXTREMELY minor and I don’t mean to compare to any serious hardships but I just wonder what makes someone leap to “That should never happen and it will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN” ? It creates so much anxiety. This “everyone’s out to get me and I have to protect myself” vibe. Hate it. I wonder if it’s connected to the loss of religion. Fewer people believing in an afterlife or things happening for a reason. (For the record I don’t really believe in either.) Maybe it’s parental guilt. The sense that you are not paying enough attention misdirected into paranoia over safety.

  50. King Krak, I Smell the Stench April 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    1. These kind of stories shouldn’t be news at all; it was just an accident.
    2. It was just an accident.
    3. It was just an accident and won’t happen at that location again.
    4. End of story.
    5. Unless you live in the USA where there are too many lawyers.
    6. Unless you’re a corporation who feels they have to overreact so they won’t lose lots of money having to defend frivolous lawsuits.
    7. What the hell is going on in our country!?

  51. Mthousemama April 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    You should watch this interesting video about being wrong.

    I think it’s sad that it became an major incident that sparked an over reaction. But I would be more concerned my kid didn’t say “hey, there’s something wrong with this juice.”

    Oh well, I am sure the kid is fine and we’ll survive this latest wackiness.

  52. Peter Brülls April 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    @Meagan not quite. If rules get broken regulary out of convenience or other reason – often because repercussions are not obvious – it can make sense to change the rules or procedures and install new ones.

  53. Jules April 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    @Meagan: from what I understand, they kept both apple juice and the pre-mixed margaritas in store-and-pour containers (bartenders know what these are), they were not simply reusing a juice jug like you or I would purchase at the grocery store with the juice in it.

  54. momfog April 20, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    The next day a morning news show came up with another family this happened to, except at an Olive Garden. The mom took the kid to the emergency room to have his stomach pumped! Talk about over-reaction! The poor kid.

  55. Steve April 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    As long as our society keeps costing companies millions of dollars for honest mistakes, we’ll continue to see their (quite rational) risk-averse behavior.

  56. SKL April 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    Yes, some of this is due to the attitude that corporations are completely unethical and they exist to get as rich as possible while trampling anyone who gets in their way. I wish I were exaggerating.

  57. Henry Crun April 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    Moral of the story: There’s no molehill small enough that you can’t make a mountain out of it.

  58. Tuppence April 20, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Another AMEN! Love this piece.

    The strive for perfection, and the “crime” (formerly known as mistake) and punishment, which falling short of that (unattainable!!) goal begets, creates a populace which is in turns, dissatisfied, irritated, resentful, vengeful and, ultimately — unhappy.

  59. Zeke April 20, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    I don’t think the problem here is related to soup at all. If the soup spill happened, the restaurant would make amends as needed. A lawsuit might happen because of peoples overlitigious nature.

    The real problem, and I can see it from well over half the comments above, is this country’s screwed up culture on alcohol. Should we be getting our kids drunk? Of course not. Is one drink going to do anything to them? No way.

    My kids are still a bit young, but the older (6) can have sips of the beer & wine after it’s made. He likes to watch and help out. Whiskey on the gums for teething is ok too. Overall, it’s probably less harmful than tylenol.

    The reason we have teenage drinking problems in this country is because teens are not taught how to respect alcohol. With these stories, the media is helping to perpetuate this problem in the same way they distribute the fear of going outside. On the other hand, I doubt these would have made the news if the Applebee’s woman didn’t sue the company with an exaggerated situation.

  60. Sean April 20, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    This actually happened to us before and my daughter said her drink tasted funny and she didn’t like it. Finally, one of us tasted it and started laughing….

    Yes, that was the end of the story, well, beside getting a new alcohol free beverage…

  61. Sean April 20, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    the “crime” (formerly known as mistake) – perfectly stated….

  62. Selby April 20, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    I would like to quote two movies to sum up this situation.

    Monsters, Inc: “I could’ve been dead! I could’ve DIIIIIIIIEEEEEEED!!!”

    The Breakfast Club: “Screws fall out all the time, sir. The world is an imperfect place…”

  63. jenjen April 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Having worked in restaurants and knowing how hectic it can be, it is amazingly easy to make this mistake. Then knowing how stupid some of my co workers were, it is even easier for it to happen. I am actually pretty sure it happens more than you hear about. So thinking it only happened three times recently is flawed.
    I also work in healthcare. They wouldn’t pump a stomach unless the blood levels indicate that it was necessary. Kids hit alcohol poisoning pretty quickly.
    Suing is over kill, but yes, retraining is in order.

  64. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson April 20, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    A similar experience happened to my young son at a local restaurant. When he was 18 months old, I ordered a virgin strawberry daquiri for the two of us to share. It arrived with whipped cream and a cherry on top, and I was chatting and he was sipping. And sipping. And sipping. He drank so much, he finished nearly 3/4 of the drink.

    Because I don’t drink alcoholic beverages, I am very sensitive to the smell. I kept saying, “I smell alcohol.” My husband said, “I don’t smell alcohol.” Eventually, I took a sip and I said, “I now know why I smell alcohol. There’s booze in there!” I pointed to my toddler’s drink. My husband’s confirmation sip was all it took. Sure enough, the drink was uber-alcoholic.

    We told the bartender and the waitress who served us, both of whom were completely unapologetic. We didn’t make a big stink, but I have to admit, at that point, my son – who was a pretty good walker – had started staggering around the floor. He was totally bombed! Every time he stood up, he fell down and started to cry. It was sad.

    Our boy went through all the phases. He stumbled. He cried. Eventually, he vomited on the floor and then he promptly fell asleep.

    While we were initially concerned about alcohol poisoning, we got over it and realized he was fine. It is now one of our favorite stories to tell.

    I think that was the thing that bothered my husband and me the most was the lack of recognition of the wrong. It would have been nice if someone just apologized and said, “We’re sorry.” But no. They suggested we should not have brought our child into a restaurant with a bar.

    That said, it never occurred to us to sue anyone since there was really no damage done. But we have never gone back either.

  65. Lin April 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    I think it is a good thing Applebee’s is re-training the employees. Even though this is a one time inceident alcohol safety is important and if they are caught serving alcohol to people under 21 they can be shut down. It is pretty bizarre to mistake margarita for apple juice and I think they should investigate why it happened in the first place. But the single serve juice thing is silly.

  66. Dolly April 20, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    I don’t think this outrages me at all. If they want to sell individual juice bottles, they can. Doesn’t bother me whatsoever. I am not enviromental so I don’t freak out over the extra trash thing.

    It is outrageous that servers accidentally serve alcohol to kids. That is unacceptable because they are sucking at their job which is to serve the right drink to the right person and they are also possibly harming a child. Kids can get blood alcohol poisioning very quickly. They need to do a better job. Also Parents might want to sip your kids drink before giving it to them.

  67. KM April 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    I agree wholeheartedly that the entire response was an overreaction. Another great article about overreacting:

  68. jenjen April 20, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    It’s easy to mix up any beverage at the bar. The mixes are kept in identical opaque containers. The juices are kept at the bar in the same type containers. Going to single serve just makes it easier for the server to get it without putting the drink order through the bartender. Yes, your kids’ drinks come from the bar. If it were in juice boxes, they can be kept on ice by the pop station and collected by the waitstaff themselves. To anyone familiar with waiting tables, this does make sense.

  69. Dolly April 20, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    I am with Kate on recalls too. They are for a reason and many are very useful and needed. We had the Simplicity cribs that KILLED several children! That is no minor matter. Those things needed to be recalled.

    Recalls are not hurting anyone. If you don’t want to send your thing back you don’t have to. If you don’t want to do the repair, you don’t have to. Just ignore it. You just can’t resale it if it is a kids item if it has been recalled and not fixed and you can’t later on decide to sue because you ignored the recall.

    I am big on if its not hurting you, why freak out and care so much? So what if they recall something? That is their choice and its your choice how to respond to it. I have not followed all recalls and some I have. I make the call. But I am glad they gave me the heads up everytime.

  70. Matt L. April 20, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    When I was in college I worked for an establishment in the same vein of applebee’s/chili’s. We (the waitstaff) often made ourselves cocktails and drank on the job using the little kiddie cups. As someone pointed out above the size of the cup made it difficult to actually get a good buzz going so we made these quite strong.

    I have no knowledge of this incident but from my own experiences I can say that it was not a lack of training that would have kept these things from happening. I think that the single serve containers will do a lot to cut down on the type of behavior I experienced so I can see the point.

  71. Fred Flange April 20, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    The article gives another clue on why they made such a big deal: the parents do not live together. The child lives with mom. Dad had custody that night. He HAD to call the cops and make a very public fuss so his ex couldn’t point the finger at HIM for being Bad Dad and letting the kid get sloshed. Doesn’t matter if the suit goes nowhere. By (over)reacting quickly, he keeps himself in the clear.

  72. Dolly April 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    My dad used to let me lick the tops of his liquor bottles. He would also give me sips of his drinks. I mostly found it gross.

    We let my son sip Daddy’s beer one day because he kept asking for it. I figured he would think it was gross and not ask again. He ended up liking it and kept asking. whoops!

    The difference from the above stories is the parents were the ones making the call on if the kid gets alcohol or not. It is not okay for anyone else to make a mistake or make the call to give alcohol to someone else’s kid. You don’t need to freak out and sue if the kid is okay, but I would expect a free meal and maybe some gift certificates to come back for free again and an apology. Just like I expect to get when anything goes bad wrong when I go out to eat.

    If the kid is hurt by it, then yes, suing might be in order to cover medical costs and pain and suffering.

  73. Stephanie April 20, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    Ok, maybe it’s just because I was allowed to have sips of alcohol from the time I was a baby (seriously, one of my very first words was “Beer!”), but this doesn’t really phase me at all. Also, when I do have kids, I fully intend to use the “rub whiskey on their gums when they’re teething” trick. But then again, I actually have a normal, healthy attitude toward alcohol, namely that it’s fine in moderation and that it’s silly to forbid children from ever ingesting a single drop of it. I’ve been allowed to have a small glass of wine with dinner (especially big holiday dinners) for pretty much as long as I can remember, and that is largely the REASON I don’t drink to excess, because I was raised to think alcohol was meant to accompany good food, not to get you drunk.

    Yes, whoever served the toddler an alcoholic beverage should be disciplined in some way. If the kid needed medical attention because of the mistake, Applebee’s should pay for that, and probably offer the family a free meal or something as an apology. The truly sad part is that any over-reaction on the part of Applebee’s is really in response to the over-reaction by everyone else in our sue-happy society. :-

  74. Stephanie April 20, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    Ok, just read Fred Flange’s response, which went up while I was typing my comment. If that’s the case, sad though it may be, I can see why the dad would raise hell over this. But the fact that he felt the need to do so is still a sad reflection on our society, that a one-time mistake that probably won’t be repeated and presumably did not cause any long-term harm could be enough to make a case for a parent to lose custody. Blech.

  75. Maya April 20, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Yes, insist that parents police their child’s beverage for alcohol but God forbid you suggest they police the beverage for sugar content or the food for fat and sodium levels, ALL of which have direct effects on health and longer-term consequences than one incident of accidental alcohol consumption.

    How about a law that says restaurants can only serve water to children. How about no beverages allowed at all so the kids don’t fill up on liquids and then actually EAT all the food they order, instead of half of it going into the garbage, along with the million juice boxes (most half-full). Sounds silly, right? But no more so than the other things we insist on after mistakes like this happen….

    If more people showed the same amount of passionate concern and outrage about real issues like obesity and the environment as they did the chillllldrennnn the world would be a nicer, cleaner, healthier place for said chilllldrennnn to inherit. I guess that’s too abstract a concept…

  76. Dolly April 20, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    Maya: LOL. Actually I was going to post that this would not happen to us because at restaurants all my kids drink are milk or water but I figured that would sound preachy. My kids do not drink juice or soda. Pretty much ever. Never have had soda and only have juice at preschool or very occasionally like 1 time a month. LOL.

  77. BMS April 20, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    @Stephanie: When my kids were teething, I found that rubbing Vodka on MY gums did wonders….

  78. Stephanie April 20, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    @BMS: I will have to remember that sage advice! 🙂

  79. Staceyjw April 20, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    This is a big WHO CARES. If they gave that to my son, I would pass it to DH to drink, and ask for free meals 🙂 But, like Stephanie, we have laid back attitudes towards alcohol. If kids are taught that alcohol is all powerful, uncontrollable, poison, instead of a sometimes tasty, intoxicating drink, they will binge instead of respecting it.

  80. Elissa April 21, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Part of me wants to think that when we eat out we accept the risks that there will be a hair, bug, spit or some allergen in our food, or that the food was stored or served in some unsanitary condition. And we are OK with that.

    But on the other hand, I think – shouldn’t there be some sort of expectation of safety when we are served food. The drinking age in this country is 21 and that is because someone somewhere decided that drinking for the under 21 set was unsafe, which means that this kid was served an unsafe beverage.

    While I think that calling the police was a bit much – unless of course the parents thought it would protect them in the event that they took a drunk toddler to the ER and CPS was called – I too would be outraged if me or my kid was served something that was less than safe at a restaurant.

  81. Stephanie April 21, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    @Elissa – But I would contend that making the drinking age 21 is completely arbitrary and actually causes more problems than it solves. It’s not physically unsafe for a child to consume a single serving of alcohol. But forbidding children from consuming alcohol at all until they turn 21 just encourages them to either be rebellious by getting drunk behind their parents’ backs or go overboard when they finally do have the opportunity to drink, which is probably why kids go crazy as soon as they get to college and end up with alcohol poisoning.

    I just never understood how it makes sense that someone who is 21 years and 1 day old is somehow more responsibile that someone who is 20 years and 364 days old. I don’t think kids should be able to buy alcohol without parental consent or anything, but there is nothing inherently unsafe about a small amount of alcohol, regardless of age. If anything, setting an arbitrary age that people are presumed to be responsible drinkers, but not giving them prior opportunities to develop a healthy attitude and test their tolerance IS unsafe.


    (Also, that doesn’t make it ok that a toddler got drunk. But out of all the other awful things that COULD happen, this just doesn’t seem like a big deal at all to me.)

  82. Elissa April 21, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    @Stephanie – Actually, there are several studies that have researched the short term and long term effects of alcohol on the adolescent brain. A simple google search will reveal quite a few of them but here’s a link to the National Institute of Health study on the topic.

    I’m not saying that 21 is a more appropriate drinking age than 18 or 16, however, the large body of research out there indicates that the younger you are the more of an effect it has on the brain.

    Your argument is the same as giving asprin to a young person. The FDA reccomends not giving asprin to a person under the age of 19 due to the risk of Reye’s Syndrome. Is there a huge difference between an 18.5 year old and a 19 year old, no.

    Or honey to a child less than 1. Is a baby really that much more developed at 13 months than 11 and can fight off botulism?

    My point is that even though birth dates are arbitrary given the flux of human development, we can’t know for sure when something will or won’t have a damaging effect on a person. We don’t know how much alcohol it takes to cause permanent damage – especially in toddlers, as its considered unethical to run such a test. Therefore, most medical professionals would say that any level of alcohol in a child is unsafe, since we just don’t know.

  83. Rachel April 21, 2011 at 2:08 am #

    As a bartender, I totally agree with Applebee’s retraining of their staff (though I think single serving kids’ drinks is going too far). No server should be serving drinks who has not been thouroughly and specifically trained to recognize alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage cups, no bartender should ever put booze in a non-alcoholic cup and no non-alcoholic beverage dispenser should be mistakeable for an alcoholic beverage dispenser.

    Mixing up drinks can have severe and real consequences. Not many people are allergic to alcohol but the ones who are can be fatally so. It can be devastating for an alcoholic in recovery to receive an alcoholic beverage. The establishment can be shut down for serving to a minor or habitual drinker and the bartender, server, manager and restaurant can each be fined tens of thousands of dollars.

    Many of the commenters have said that a single drink won’t kill a kid, but most of what the commenters are experienced with is wine and beer, which usually have about one twentieth of the alcohol content of hard alcohol, such as the tequila in a margarita. An ounce of tequila (which is the standard serving in a mixed drink) can kill a toddler. It’s the equvalent of an average adult having 10 shots. That is one hell of a lot of alcohol to consume in the duration of a mealtime, enough to send an adult to the hospital.

    If a toddler drank an ounce of hard alcohol, I would call an ambulance. If an older child drank an ounce of hard alcohol I would drive them to the hospital. Just like some OTC meds can be harmful or fatal to toddlers, so can just a little alcohol.

  84. Stephanie April 21, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    @Elissa – I could only skim the report you linked to, but it does appear that this one, at least, seems to focus on the effects of binge drinking as an adolescent.: “This combination of frequent high alcohol consumption and increased vulnerability of the brain to alcohol’s harmful effects may result in cognitive deficits and other problems that persist far beyond adolescence.”

    I don’t by any means advocate underage *binge* drinking, my point is that allowing a kid to have half a glass of wine with dinner a few times a year will remove the sense of rebellion associated with alcohol that often leads to the very binge drinking described in that study.

    Unfortunately I’m at work right now and can’t take the time to do further research on the matter, but I wonder if there are any studies out there that analyze the effects of the sort of drinking I was talking about (exposure to *small* amounts of alcohol during childhood/adolescence) in adulthood.

    And again, I’m not saying what happened in this particular case was a good thing, but I don’t think that being exposed to less than a single serving of alcohol *once* as a toddler is necessarily going to have anywhere near the effect of repeated exposure to high volumes of alcohol as described in the study you linked to, which is why I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Now, if this toddler was knocking back a few margaritas every night, it’d be another story. 😉

  85. Jen April 21, 2011 at 2:14 am #

    As a former bartender and a mom, I am outraged at Applebee’s. First, as a mom I would have been absolutelyy horrified if that had been my child and honestly not sure of my reaction concerning the restaurant. Would I have sued? Not unless the place refused to pay the medical bills.

    As a former bartender, there is no way in hell a bartender can mistake a child’s sippy cup for a regular adult drink- even if this “sippy cup” was Applebee’s standard styrofoam, child’s cup. This bartender was either high or drunk himself or just plain mean and purposely trying to get Applebee’s in trouble. He certainly doesn’t deserve to keep his job. Juices are served from the bar b/c they are often used in alcoholic drinks. This doesn’t excuse what the bartender did; however and, according to state law (in AZ where I live), could have landed his ass in jail.

    Is the restaurant chain over-reacting? Probably, but maybe this isn’t the first time it has happened- only the first time it has been reported.

  86. Jen April 21, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    BTW: @ Rachel- Well said!

  87. Elissa April 21, 2011 at 2:34 am #

    @Stephanie – Rachel said this better than I could have. Yes – ONCE – could kill a child depending on the amount of alcohol consumed. Kids are easily accidentally overdosed because of their weight and metabolisms. We aren’t talking about a kid having a sip of mom’s wine – this kid had enough to make him talk to walls. How that is not a big deal is beyond me.

  88. jenjen April 21, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    Very well articulated Rachel! Thank you.

  89. Donna April 21, 2011 at 3:07 am #

    The issue isn’t that the parents shouldn’t be upset. Of course they should. I’d be upset if my kid was served alcohol without my consent.

    The issue is the fact that mistakes don’t exist anymore. Everything is tragic and/or criminal. We can’t just be happy that human error occurred and everyone was safe. Yes, this is a stupid error but the child was fine. An apology, comped meal and review of procedures to attempt to make sure this doesn’t happen again are all that are needed.

    I had surgery a few years ago. In the recovery room, I was given an overdose of meds. In an abundance of caution, I spent a night in the cardiac unit for monitoring. I was fine. The hospital comped the extra monitoring. It never occurred to me to do anything else. It was a mistake. The doctor or nurse didn’t intend to do this. They felt bad. I was fine. End of story.

  90. Tuppence April 21, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    Is it just me, or does this site seem to have become inundated with party crashers (only, the opposite of the fun kind), leaving comments one would find on your typical “mommy-talk” website, e.g., indignant outrage at s.o. else’s f-up — which, though it never did, it maybe could, yes definitely maybe could have affected their very own precious(es) — and just the thought of someone messing with (intentionally or not be damned) their precious is enough to make them see red, and have them calling for heads? Like we should care?

    I’m all for converts and everything. But we free-rangers come here to relax, with like-minded folk, and this new “vibe” here is bumming me out.

  91. Uly April 21, 2011 at 3:14 am #

    Off-topic, but definitely within the general thrust of the site:

    I think the URL there basically sums it up, but I’ll try to recap anyway. This guy, with the permission of the school, sang a clean song to a group of first graders. Their teachers were there. Then, as a joke, he edited the video – the kids never were to see it! – as though he’d been singing something inappropriate.

    For this, Emory was charged with a felony count of “manufacturing child sexual abusive material”, a charge which carries a maximum 20 year sentence. He was not convicted of that; instead he pled guilty to a reduced felony count, and sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years probation, 200 hours of community service, mandatory counseling and fines and costs. As part of a condition to his probation, Emory can’t be within 500 feet of any venue where children under the age of 17 gather.

    There’s an article link as well, I’ll post that next comment.

  92. Donna April 21, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    @ Elissa – it’s not a big deal because the kid was 100% fine. There is no indication that the restaurant intended to get the child smashed. It was a stupid mistake that could have had bad consequences in extreme cases but didn’t in this case.

    The world is not perfect. No matter how hard people try, mistakes are going to happen. Be happy that everyone was fine and move on with your life. Getting upset that you are dealing with a world filled with error-prone human beings who cannot guarantee your perfect safety 100% of the time is a waste of time and energy.

  93. Stephanie April 21, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    @Elissa – Exactly – depending on the amount of alcohol consumed. That’s been my point all along, that it’s not an all-or-nothing situation. I wasn’t trying to say that it’s perfectly ok that this happened, I was just debating your assertion that the reason alcohol (at the time I assumed in any amount) is illegal for those under 21 is that it’s inherently unsafe for young people. In small amounts on an infrequent basis, I highly doubt it does much harm.

    And like Donna just said, I’m not suggesting the parents shouldn’t be upset AT ALL, I just question the motives behind any lawsuit that involves the words “emotional distress” (as this one does) because most of the time they’re just trying to get more money instead of getting compensated for their own *actual* expenses. My criticism is more about the nature of the lawsuit than about Applebee’s retraining staff to be more careful with alcohol.

    Also, according an article someone linked to earlier, the police report said the child’s BAC was .014, not the .1 that was being reported in the news, so I’m not sure how much alcohol was actually involved here anyway, which further makes me suspicious of the motives behind the lawsuit…

  94. Uly April 21, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    For anybody specifically keeping track, there’s been another alcohol/small child case, this time at Chili’s.

    That makes three (Applebee’s, Olive Garden, Chili’s) in, what, a month?

    I’m not saying that they’re not overreacting now, but this is just *weird*.

  95. Elissa April 21, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    @Donna – You have a higher tolerance for negligence than I do. I’m not saying I would have sued the hospital in your example, or Applebee’s in the original post, but when someone screws up – in a way that could potentially KILL me or my family I would want it brought to some sort of authorities (hospital board, police, health department – whatever) attention to be sure it didn’t happen again with what could be much worse consequences.

    @Stephanie – I think we are on the same page. I don’t think a lawsuit is helpful or warranted in this situation. However, measures should be taken – either by some restaurant oversight entity or Applebee’s internally – to make sure this never happens again. They got lucky this time in that the kid was fine, but next time, if they don’t correct what went wrong in the first place, could end up not so well.

  96. Tuppence April 21, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    It seems to me that what is considered the appropriate age to consume alcohol in the US, is guided by reasons other than a concern with bodily health. Legal age of consumption of alcoholic beverages is lower in other countries. At 16 you can buy beer in Germany, and spirits at 18. And, apparently, it’s left to the parent’s (guardian’s) discretion whether a teenager of 14 or 15 can drink a beer.

  97. Library Diva April 21, 2011 at 3:39 am #

    @ Dolly: Really, it is not acceptable for someone to make a mistake? Have you never made any yourself? Good for you if that’s the case, but most of us are human, not cyborgs, and will screw up occasionally. As is evidenced here, there is an ‘incident’ like this one lurking in the pasts of many functional adults.

    Also, you may consider yourself “not enviromental,” but this country is generating such a staggering amount of trash that it is now our greatest export. We’re rapidly running out of places to put it, and I bet you’ll become “environmental” in a hurry when they want to build a landfill or an incineration plant near where you live, work or like to hang out on weekends.

  98. Dolly April 21, 2011 at 4:00 am #

    Library Diva: I am not an environut. Sounds like you might be. Not going to get into a huge debate here, but no, I don’t buy into all the “Save the Planet” crap out there. Most of it is bull. Recycling anything but aluminum does not actually do that much good. I don’t use reusable bags because I reuse the plastic grocery bags myself at home. I drive a Chevy Impala and a Saturn Ion which is going to kick most mom’s cars butts on emissions. blah blah blah. I don’t freak out about a restaurant deciding to use individual bottles. Big whoop. I am a vegetarian. My mom has enough carbon offsets for everyone on this board on her freaking property since she owns several acres that she keeps free from hunters and feeds the wildlife and grows plants and trees and composts, etc. She is not an environut, she just enjoys nature. She even has several endangered species on her property that made her property their home.

    Don’t like what Applebee’s is doing. Don’t eat there. Done and done.

    And no, it is not acceptable for some mistakes to happen. Any mistake that could potentially kill or severely injure someone especially a child is not okay. Would you just be like “OH well accidents happen” if a doctor overdosed your child and killed him? I doubt it. You would be livid! Some mistakes are not okay thus why you should check, double check and triple check when it comes to something like this. A foolproof method needs to be established to prevent this like the individual bottles.

  99. Rachel April 21, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    And just for clarification, I think the parents are probably either over-reacting or very greedy in suing over the error.

    With such conflicting reports from the media I don’t think we can make any accurate assertions about how much alcohol this toddler had and whether it was enough to cause lasting damage.

    It is approprite for Applebee’s to make restitution, there is no excuse for insufficient training when it comes to alcohol service and it is not impossible that if the kid has as much as some of the media says he did that there could be lasting damage to his brain or kidneys.

    However if businesses can be held financially responsible for making people afraid of bad things happening, then I can think of a few major media outlets that owe everyone in America a million dollars.

  100. Jen April 21, 2011 at 4:29 am #


    You may or may not be referring, in part, to me. I am a regular here, but since I worked as a bartender for 5 years, this particular story struck a nerve with me. Had I been the restaurant manager, that bartender would have had a very tough time explaining to me how this was a legitimate mistake. As I said previously, there is no way a bartender can mistake a sippy cup for a regular glass. I believe this was intentional or the bartender was under the influence of something.

    Yes, the child is fine. No, I wouldn’t sue, but I would make darn sure that employee was fired.

  101. Jen April 21, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    And another “well said” to Rachel on her more recent comments. We won’t know the true effect of the alcohol on the kid’s brain or other organs for a few months or so yet.

  102. Donna April 21, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    @ Elissa – just about every mistake could potentially kill you. When it doesn’t, you thank your lucky stars and move on. I’m certainly not going to report a good nurse or doctor to the police or medical board for being human. No bad intent was shown.

    The thing about mistakes is that you can’t make sure they don’t happen again. Mistakes are by definition unintentional acts. The perpetrators are usually as upset as by their mistake as the victim. You can’t somehow make people not commit acts they never meant to commit to start with.

  103. Donna April 21, 2011 at 4:33 am #

    The bartender DIDN’T mistake a sippy cup for a real cup. The alcoholic beverage was in an Apple juice container.

  104. Dolly April 21, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Donna: That is why hospitals have review boards that determine if the mistake is going to be forgiven or not. The point is mistakes are taken seriously. Same should happen for restaurants wouldn’t you think?

  105. Donna April 21, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    So Dolly, I guess you’ve never commuted a single driving violation? Never sped? Never almost ran a stop sign? Never turned too close to an incoming car? Any car wreck COULD potentially kill someone, so any mistake involving a car is a potentially deadly mistake.

  106. Donna April 21, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    No because exceedly few mistakes at restaurants are fatal. Considering how many people eat in restaurants each day and how few deaths occur, I’d put the chance of a restaurant mistake equaling death at about 1 in a trillion. Further, that is what the manager is for. If this is a result of a planned action, the people responsible should be fired. Nobody said anything different.

  107. Donna April 21, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    I don’t mean that the restaurant shouldn’t look at what happened and try to put things in place to try to see that it doesn’t happen again – not putting alcohol in apple juice bottles would be a good start. Individual cartons of juice are not necessary.

  108. Rachel April 21, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    @Donna “The bartender DIDN’T mistake a sippy cup for a real cup. The alcoholic beverage was in an Apple juice container”

    When the liquid came out of the container into the child’s cup the bartender should have instantly noticed. A decent bartender can tell the difference between two whiskeys at their bar by the minute differences color, light play and the way the liquid moves in the glass and the difference between Diet Coke and Regular by the carbonation. No way could any bartender simply mistake margarita for apple juice, no possible way.

    Bartenders are legally obligated to pay attention, they are part server, part councelor and part cop. The legal burden on bartenders is very high and demands attention to detail and accountability. Keeping alcohol away from minors is the number one obligation.

  109. Dolly April 21, 2011 at 5:12 am #

    Donna: You are splitting hairs. If I was driving around having wrecks right and left then I would get my liscense pulled. Same thing here. Actually anytime anyone has a wreck the police look into it issue citations and even pull liscenses if necessary. So you know, basically that proves my point. If you make a mistake that hurts someone, you pay the price. So either don’t make such a mistake or pay the penalty after it happens.

    For your info I have a perfect driving record except for one minor wreck. I have never had a citation. Ever.

  110. Elissa April 21, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    @Donna – When I make a mistake, whether on the road, or at work, I get corrected for it. My boss evaluates the matter and takes action. In my car, if the cop doesn’t catch me, I correct myself – I pay attention more and go whew! that was close, I’d better do XYZ so it doesn’t happen again!

    THAT’S the POINT of the authorities – to be the double checker when something goes wrong. In this case (and in your hospital example), it may have been a series of mistakes, or small errors by different people that lead to the incident so no one was to blame and therefore their internal checking mechanism isn’t kicking in.

    The people in charge should be notified so that the system can be corrected so it doesn’t happen again. It doesn’t matter if its a restaurant, hospital, air traffic control tower, oil company, mining company, or me at my job. We are all human and make mistakes but that’s why we have systems to make sure that they can be avoided in the future.

  111. Tuppence April 21, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    @Jen — what do you mean “We won’t know the true effect of the alcohol on the kid’s brain or other organs for a few months or so yet”.

    I have never heard of a small amount of alcohol having a “true effect” — damaging I suppose you mean– months later. Sounds overwrought to me. Do you have any scientific studies you could reference for us?

  112. Beth April 21, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    @Fred Flange and others, I just read the article again. It quotes a person, identified as the child’s mother, describing how he was acting, as if she was right there observing him. How did we get from that to “this was dad’s night with the kid and he had to make a stink so that the child’s mother wouldn’t accuse him of something.”

  113. Tuppence April 21, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    Maybe you people are right — it wasn’t an honest mistake. . .

    Father notices alcohol in kid’s drink, instead of bringing it to the attention of the wait-staff, he immediately calls police. Odd thing to do. Humm.

    Nothing bad happens to kid, but parents sue anyway for “pain and suffering”. No longer just odd, moving into some serious a-hole territory now. Double humm.

    A ha. It’s obvious what happened here — the father slipped the kid a mickey, then blamed the restaurant so he could get some cash.

    Sort of a new twist on the “bring your own cockroach into the joint, drop it into (the last few mouthfuls of) the dessert dish, complain and Hey– the entire meal gets comped!

  114. Donna April 21, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    I’m gonna join with Tuppence here. There are some new posters who don’t seem to agree with a single free range idea which leads me to ask: why are you here? We all occasionally disagree, but it’s every thread not just one or two.

  115. David April 21, 2011 at 6:56 am #

    What always irritates me about this sort of discussion is when people come out with the phrase ‘make sure it never happens again.’ It will always happen again. No matter what what systems and checks you put in place there is always the potential for human error. People, whether they are waiters, doctors or traffic controllers are still human. They can be feeling ill or experiencing personal problems or just be tired and overworked. Saying mistakes shouldn’t happen is as senseless as complaining there shouldn’t be earthquakes or tidal waves. Shake your fist at the universe and scream it’s behaviour is unacceptable as much as you like, but it won’t do any good.

    Of course you can put procedures in place to reduce the risk, but then we come back to our old friend the cost/benefit analysis Any but the most minor organisational changes are bound to have an effect on prices or speed of service or both. What price are consumers prepared to pay to reduce the risk of an accident where the chance of any significant harm being caused is vanishingly small? I suspect not a very high one

  116. Giorgia April 21, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    This reminds me of something happened not long ago: the police foiled a terrorist attack discovering explosive hidden in a bunch of printers inside a cargo plane. Guess what? They made a regulation which prohibit to transport printers by plane!
    As if the problems was really the printers and not the explosive inside of them…. so stupid.

  117. pentamom April 21, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    “Doctors told the parents if the boy had drank any more of the alcoholic beverage, he could have died. WJBK-TV reports Dominic the child’s blood alcohol level was .10 percent. That’s over the legal limit for an adult driver.”

    “Almost died of alcohol poisoning” does not compute with “barely over the legal limit for driving.” Since BAL is a PERCENTAGE, the kid was no drunker than an adult with .10. It’s not like he had as much alcohol in him as an adult with that level — how could he have, after one drink?

  118. Elissa April 21, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    I don’t understand why this is a free-range issue anyways. I thought the point of the free-range children was to “raise safe self-reliant children without going nuts with worry.” How this has anything to do what that escapes me.

    This is a food safety issue – along the lines of e.coli in spinach an salmonella in eggs or bad mayo on a chicken sandwich that sat under a heat lamp for too long.

    Restaurant employee(s) messed up. Sounds like the restaurant learned from their mistake and evaluated the best way to fix it and are moving forward. Seems reasonable to me.

    Is it grounds for a lawsuit? No. Is it national news? No.

  119. Tuppence April 21, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    @Elissa — I’m not trying for a one-up-free-range-man-ship here, I swear! But for some of us this issue comes under the “without going nuts with worry” section.

  120. Elissa April 21, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    @Tuppence – I guess that’s just a personal thing as to how much one worries when their kid eats something they shouldn’t and then gets sick over it.

    I don’t ‘t worry if my kid eats dirt, but when hubby got food poisoning from a restaurant last week and it was coming out of both ends – violently – for 48 hours straight, you better believe I was worried and called the health department to report it. They took my info and said it took 5 complaints to be considered an “outbreak”. They looked at the restaurant’s info and said it appeared to be an isolated incident and that they would make an note of the items he ate to check them next time they did an inspection to make sure those items were being handed properly. They gave me advice on when to seek professional help and asked me to call them if we had to see a doc.

    I was glad I called because its one of our favorite local restaurants and I want to make sure its safe to eat there. I don’t feel it was out of line to call the health department. If the restaurant is making a mistake in the way they handle food, they should know and it should be fixed.

  121. Sky April 21, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    “We individuals have been trained to over-react, as has corporate America. We treat minor, even one-in-a-million, problems as major affronts. And then we try to “fix” them, even if there’s very little, if anything, to fix.”

    This goes a long way toward explaining our national deficit.

    I myself would not have thought it noteworthy if my toddler were saying hi to walls and might never have known…

  122. chad April 21, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    This happens to me all the time….go to wendys and order a coke and get diet or even worse get dr. Pepper….holy hell I’m callin cnn and and oj’s lawyer johnny c. Next time this happens….I mean if I would have drank it the sheer shock would of ran me off the road in to a tree….wow thanx to my taste testers I’m still alive….lmao….that’s about how these ppl sound sayin how horrible it is for this to happen. Git over it….there’s better things to get all riled up about….like all this damn cold rainy weather….lol

  123. Donna April 21, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    “when their kid eats something they shouldn’t and then gets sick over it.”

    I guess I missed the part in the article where the kid got sick. The kid talked to walls – not even particularly notable for many toddlers. He didn’t even puke to my knowledge.

  124. Donna April 21, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    Actually most driving mistakes don’t result in a ticket or an accident. However, any driving mistake is a potential accident in the right situations. So turn in your license the next time you have a near miss. Afterall, that’s the only true way to assure that it never happens again – with potentially worse consequences – because, according to you, we have to assure that a mistake is never repeated and the only sure way to do that is to never engage in the activity again.

    And if you make a mistake at work, your boss may say something to you; you may even get fired if it’s a serious enough mistake. Not an unreasonable result. You mistake doesn’t become national news with large public outcry from people not involved in the situation and panic over tasting children’s drinks any time you go out in public. An unreasonable result. Hell, I’m subject to review by my boss, my judges, appeals courts, and the State Bar. I still don’t lose my license for a mistake. I can lose my license for intentional misconduct but not for a simple mistake even though my mistake could send someone to death row.

    @ Rachel – I don’t dispute that the bartender probably should have caught the difference. But it got annoying reading someone continue to blame the bartender for mixing up sippy cups with the adult glasses. That is not even close to what happened in this situation. Rag the bartender all you want but do it for what the bartender actually did which was fail to notice that there was something non-apple juice in the apple juice container.

  125. Dolly April 21, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    Wow I guess the free range mothers are just as cliquey and judgemental and the helicopter mothers. Several posters keep saying they don’t like the new posters and trying to run them off. How childish. Since I am a new poster I guess I am supposed to take offense to that. Nice.

    So I can’t think a little differently as the majority or I am not allowed to appreciate the free range movement or philosophy?

  126. Verity April 21, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    When my oldest son was 2.5 years old we went to a family wedding, they had several verison of punch available as refreshments, two being non-alcoholic, my son loved it and kept going and getting more, after a little while I noticed he had gotten pretty silly so I smelt his drink, someone had spiked the non-alcoholic punch. It was all pretty funny really, we had a good laugh and he had a really good sleep that night! Certainly hasn’t done him any damage.

  127. pentamom April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    @Elissa — of course when there’s a mistake that causes more or less harm, there’s nothing wrong with bringing it to the attention of the business, and by all means, the business should correct any procedural problems that led to it.

    The thing here is that the switch to individual serving containers isn’t really a correction to a procedural problem, it’s creating a new procedure to try to eliminate a completely different kind of mistake. The mistake wasn’t caused because there weren’t individual containers, but for two reasons. 1) The procedural issue of storing things that shouldn’t be confused with each other in similarly, or even wrongly, marked containers. This is in fact bad practice, and should be corrected. 2) Human error in not catching the difference. The reality of human error can’t be “correct” and you certainly “can’t make sure it never happens again.” The best thing you can do is implement an intelligent procedure to minimize the likelihood.

    In point of fact, individual containers probably do make it much, more difficult for this particular mistake to happen again. But is it an appropriate solution, or is it a bomb on a mouse solution that creates needless expense for Applebee’s and/or its customers? And more to the point, is this overkill solution being implemented primarily because Applebee’s wants to be extra-extra-careful rather than simply implementing a sufficient solution (such as strictly forbidding the use of mislabeled containers), or is it because there’s a national outcry over a small mistake that *didn’t actually hurt anyone*, and they need for marketing reasons to be overly obvious in their efforts to deal with the situation? I think a lot of us suspect the latter, and that it is the case because of the culture of overworry — which makes it relative to Free Range issues.

    I’m reminded again of one of my favorite passages from Sense and Sensibility, in which a small child hurts herself by lightly scratching herself on one of her mother’s dress pin, and an overly solicitous lady friend points out that “it could have been a sad accident.” To which a more sensible lady responds that she doesn’t see how, unless the circumstances were entirely different. That’s exactly what you have here — the child couldn’t have been hurt unless he had drunk far more alcohol than he did, which couldn’t have happened unless the circumstances had been entirely different.

  128. ebohlman April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    pentamom: In fact, that reference to the blood alcohol limit for driving was an example of what Darrel Huff, in his classic How to Lie with Statistics, called a “semi-attached figure”: a number that sounds precise but really has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    In reality, the driving limit reflects a fairly low level of alcohol, simply because it doesn’t take much alcohol to impair the kind of split-second judgments that are essential to safe driving. Most people just above the driving limit wouldn’t appear drunk to others, and would probably be subjectively feeling at most a slight buzz. So it’s useless to extend the concept to situations that don’t require split-second judgments.

  129. D.W. R. April 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Now I am the kind of dad that does not treat our 4 year old like a china doll, but as a recovered alcoholic I would be be very angry as science still is unclear on how the whole gene thing works…still it most likely be okay.

  130. Larry Harrison April 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    As usual, I agree with the post 100%. Now granted, giving a child alcohol is kind of a big deal, but yes indeed–there is SOME risks which are not as bad as it’s made out to be. It’s not like someone dropped the child from the top of the Washington Monument and then went “oops.”


  131. Myriam April 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    The point is not whether or not it is acceptable to give alcohol to a child. If the child was talking to walls he was dangerously drunk. It’s whether it makes sense to base policies, whether public or corporate, that will affect the way everyone lives, on one person’s one-off mistake.

    And suddenly a responsible mother is one who checks her children’s drinks? It’s a only a small step from there before we have the situation where perfect strangers, emboldened by this mindset, chew mothers out for being irresponsible for not sipping their children’s drinks first!

    While I don’t like to use a real person’s tragedy to make a point, here’s a dilemma for people who think one-off occurrences make good polcy: I read in the paper yesterday of a six-year-old girl who had a heart attack and was left brain damaged after a fire alarm went off at her school. Cue people writing in to say that actually that’s not as rare as you might think and maybe fire alarms shouldn’t be so loud.

  132. John Rohan April 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Does this mean that 20 year-old customers will have to get their drinks in Caprisun bags or little “juicy juice” boxes? That would be kind of humiliating.

  133. pentamom April 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    John, they’re not actually going to serve the individual packages at the table, they’re just going to dispense them from those containers into the glasses, before serving them, to prevent the kind of mix-up that occurred.

    “If the child was talking to walls he was dangerously drunk.”

    That’s kind of a hard assessment to make when you’re talking about a one year old, who might just talk to walls when he’s *sober* because one year olds do talk and sing to themselves, or people not in the room, or imaginary characters, at times. The point of fact is that his blood alcohol level was .10, which is NOT dangerous unless there are other, quite rare, underlying conditions.

  134. Brian April 22, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    Maya–you hit it on the head. This is a diversionary story from the real problem which is the soda they tried to order in the first place. Something that is actually killing our children.

    Lenore–Take it one step further. The problem here is the breakdown of community. If this was a locally owned and operated bar/grill there are no assets so no lawsuit. The owner would apologize and take care of it. The 10 staff members would be trained. But instead its a multinational corporation with thousands of employees and hundreds of millions in assets. The result shows in the response.

  135. Cheryl W April 22, 2011 at 1:57 am #

    Actually, .40 is considered to be about lethal in adults and teens. I am not sure why .10 would be lethal in a child because it is based on percentage of alcohol, not the amount consumed. A child would of course, need to consume much less to get to .10 than an adult.

    If .10 were lethal, then years ago when some states had a limit of .12, all those drivers would have been dead before they got in the car.

    Is .10 healthy for a child? Of course not. But it seems that the doctor blew things out of proportion or the parents misunderstood what the doctor said.

  136. Matt April 22, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    I won’t defend or attack Applebee’s here, but there is a simple explanation having to do with public relations and damage control.

    A company in this situation cannot possibly be seen as having anything but utmost concern, and must be seen instantly as “doing something” to prevent the problem from reoccurring, ever. Otherwise they’ll be lambasted in the media as uncaring and callous and they most assuredly will lose a ton of business over some silly one-time mistake. It’s fairly axiomatic in PR that no strong reaction will be spun negatively, no matter how sane a course of action doing nothing would be.

    So you can blame our hyper media environment, you can blame parents in general for freaking out (and I, too, would’ve freaked out if my kid had been given alcohol, frankly), but it’s very difficult to blame the chain.

  137. pentamom April 22, 2011 at 4:34 am #

    “But it seems that the doctor blew things out of proportion or the parents misunderstood what the doctor said.”

    I’m guessing the latter. The doctor probably said something to the effect that if the child had enough, he could have died, and that would have been less than would have killed an adult, and the parents somehow interpreted that as a close brush with death. (“He fell out of a little tree. If the tree had been 30 feet high, he would have DIED!” But the kid never climbed any 30 foot tree.) But if the doctor intimated that there was any danger in a .10 blood alcohol level in an otherwise healthy person who was not operating any kind of heavy equipment, he was just plain wrong or exaggerating to try to scare parents into being overly careful.

  138. pentamom April 22, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    “So you can blame our hyper media environment, you can blame parents in general for freaking out (and I, too, would’ve freaked out if my kid had been given alcohol, frankly), but it’s very difficult to blame the chain.”

    I think we can additionally blame a culture where there’s no such thing as a mistake and no such thing as an accident. Someone Must Always Be Morally And Legally To Blame if something unfortunate happens. That’s not quite the same thing as the Free Range issue, but there’s significant overlap. They feed each other.

  139. Jen April 22, 2011 at 5:18 am #


    A child’s brain is still developing at 15 months. Alcohol robs the brain of oxygen- much like a child drowning in a pool would. Feel free to google the effects of alcohol on children.

    I tend to agree with another commenter on here who asked how this is a free-range issue. It’s really not.

  140. Jynet April 22, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    It may not be a free-range issue in your opinion, and that is fine.

    It is related though, since as a community we are supposedly against over reation to ‘threats’ to our children, which this reaction by the parents/media/chain is.

    Also, it is an issue that interested Lenore, and about 100 other people here. So, given that it is Lenore’s blog… and as such she gets to post any damn thing she wants… it is free-range-kids-blog issue because Lenore SAYS it is.

  141. Jen April 22, 2011 at 6:48 am #


    You’re right. It is Lenore’s blog.

    Oh please excuse me for being a member of this blog and expressing my opinion. I thought we were allowed to do that on here. I promise not to try to have a conversation or make any more comments b/c they might be upsetting or offensive to others who also comment on this blog. My opnion, professional or personal, concerning the posted subject matter, matters not and I shall refrain from future conversations about this particular topic.

    Jen G.

  142. Larry Harrison April 22, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    I agree with Jynet. It is free-range because it illustrates how, in society, often-times there is no such thing as a mistake that we can learn from and move forward with, without hysterical overreactions and “someone’s at fault and we’ve got to hold them accountable” types of responses.


  143. Donna April 22, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    Jen, there’s a huge difference between expressing your opinion on the topic and trying to control what Lenore posts on her own blog. That’s the only way those “how is this a free range issue” comments can be interpreted – that you are trying to dictate what is a suitable subject for this blog.

    It truly doesn’t matter whether it’s a free range issue or not. It was a subject that interested Lenore and she chose to post about it on her blog. End of story. If you don’t want to read posts that you don’t feel are free range enough, skip them.

  144. Uly April 22, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Jen, you’re not a member of this blog. As far as I can tell, there’s only one person who can post new entries here, and that’s Lenore. You don’t have to jump through any sort of hoop at ALL to comment, so none of the rest of us can be called “members”.

    Now, I do agree we could use a decent *forum*, and that’d be different, but right now… we do not have that.

    Man, is everybody here in a pissy mood lately? I know I am too, though I’m trying really hard not to snap at EVERYbody. Is there a full moon? (Must be, Easter’s coming.)

  145. pentamom April 22, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    “A child’s brain is still developing at 15 months. Alcohol robs the brain of oxygen- much like a child drowning in a pool would. Feel free to google the effects of alcohol on children. ”

    This is a good example of what someone said above about throwing comparisons out there that are completely out of scale. Drowning or near-drowning means the brain is *entirely* robbed of oxygen for a period of time, which leads to death in a small number of minutes and irreversible impairment in less time than that. Alcohol leads to *some degree of limitation* of the oxygen available to the brain, but does not deprive it entirely of oxygen for any length of time unless it leads to cardiac arrest or death.

    A blood alcohol level of .10 is not good for a child, but cannot in any way be compared to a drowning incident, except as a very, VERY loose analogy (the common factor being oxygen deprivation, with one case being very partial and limited, and the other being catastrophic.)

  146. Frances April 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    How does wondering why this is a free-range issue translate to trying to control what Lenore posts? I wonder the same thing. But it’s an interesting debate.

    My toddler chugs his drinks and he likes odd-tasting things. How much the child actually drank of it doesn’t matter. The fact that the child is ok is a relief, but not really relevant. Whether some kids sneak drinks at weddings or get whisky for teething or shouldn’t drink soda is really irrelevant. This isn’t the same as giving someone Dr. Pepper instead of Coke! If this error can happen, it seems repeatedly, then there is something wrong with procedures at the restaurant. They need to fix that. Nobody should be served an alcoholic beverage they didn’t order, especially a toddler. Things are probably different in the US but in Canada the apple juice isn’t even kept at the bar.

    If this had happened to me I doubt I’d have called the police (health department, maybe) but you can be damn sure the manager would have heard from me — and I would not have been satisfied with having my meal comped. I would want some kind of assurance that whatever led to the mixup would be reviewed and corrected.

    The solution of using individual drink containers suggests that these types of chain restaurants don’t trust either their staff or their training procedures. Who works at Applebee’s and do they get paid enough to care about doing their jobs well?

  147. Stephanie April 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    I am not sure where to post this, but I am a tad of an insomniac tonight, and watching an old (early to mid-80s) game show called “Card Sharks”. It is “Kid week”. The kids not only give their FULL name at the beginning of the show, but they say their hometowns, grades and (god forbid!) SCHOOLS! A very pretty 11 year old girl went into some detail with Bob Eubanks about her hometown of Acton CA, “a small desert community” and said she lived on a horse ranch! So much detail! Amazing that she wasn’t abducted or murdered after appearing on that show!

  148. Nicola April 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    To whomever said the kid was close to dying… I’m going to call bullsh*t.

    Unless they gave this kid refill after refill after refill, the only thing this kid was probably close to even if he had multiple glasses was falling asleep.

    We must use common sense here and the science of what happens when one drinks alcohol. I know… sense and science all at once… whew! What a head rush!

  149. Eldo April 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    There seems to be a problem with the RSS feed.

    As for Applebee’s “accidentally” serving alcohol to a toddler, I agree that everyone is overreacting in a typically modern fashion. When I was about two years old, I sucked down a rum and coke and I am no worse for wear.

  150. Tuppence April 23, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    @Jen — we all have things that push our buttons, this issue seems to have done that for you. I think you mentioned that you were a bartender? I can imagine that may be why. When you take something seriously, and try to do the job right, realizing the danger that can be caused if you don’t – then witnessing someone taking that same thing lightly – well, that’s hard to take.

    I think I can probably relate best to this with driving a car. I take it seriously, because I keep in mind the harm that can be done otherwise, and try to be as careful as possible. It’s nothing less than infuriating to witness those who don’t. I’d luuuv to see the book thrown at all of them, each and every time — and how! But, I’m not going to be made empresses for the day, so that’s not gonna happen any time soon. Ggrrrh. Oh well, it’s probably best cooler heads prevail in these matters anyway.

    Regarding this Applebees incident, (and of course I don’t know every. single. detail, but either, I guess, do you), it really does seem to be the case that no great harm was done to the child. But certainly a bad mistake was indeed made, and we can, if we so choose, get into a “what if” kind of thing: He’s okay now, but what if something goes bad several months from now? I think that’s not such a good idea. And, more importantly, I just don’t think it’s at all possible, this being a one time, relatively small amount of alcohol. But of course you are entitled to your opinion! Goes without saying. But this website is a “let cooler heads prevail” kind of place, so look sharp!

    And just to clarify, if you’ve been commenting for a while here, then I didn’t have you in mind in my grip about the “bad vibe”. There seemed to be some people whose comments in post after post suggested annoyance with every aspect of free-ranginess. Had the impression they just showed up to bother everyone. I believe such folk are known as trolls. And they like to be pesky. And they were.

  151. Rachel April 23, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    Children do not process alcohol like adults. Children cannot safely imbibe alcohol like adults do.

    It takes less alcohol to intoxicate a child than an adult. This is partly due to a child’s smaller body size and partly because a child’s liver is immature and unable to deactivate toxic substances as efficiently as an adult’s liver.

    The lethal dose of alcohol is roughly 1.4 to 2 grams of alcohol per pound of the child’s body weight. For example, if a 75 lb child drank a single beer or one ounce of hard liquor, it would cause a blood alcohol level of 0.050 g% to 0.060 g% in the child. In a 150 lb adult, the same amount of alcohol would produce a blood level only half as great.

    Most children show symptoms of drunkenness at blood alcohol levels of 0.050 g% to .100 g%. Higher blood alcohol levels in children often result in blackouts, coma, and death.

    It only takes 28 grams of alcohol to kill a 20 lb toddler. A shot is 28.3495 grams. A 20 lb toddler would experience a blood alcohol up to .225 g% from one beer or one shot.

    Yes the parents are probably greedy, yes the restaurant, the media, and thousands of people across the country are probably freaking out over an rare and isolated screw up. But please, please, please don’t suggest that the child was’t in danger. Please don’t think that a small child who gets a spiked drink or snags a cocktail off a table isn’t in danger.

    I wish there were statistics on child injury and mortality from alcohol poisoning in the US. In the UK upwards of 8000 chilren are hospitalized for alcohol poisoning each year. In the US 50,000 people of all ages are diagnosed with alcohol poisoning. In the UK 30,100 people of all ages are diagnosed with alcohol poisoning. If children and adults both here and the UK experience alcohol poisoning in similar proportions then there could be more than 13,000 hospitalizations of children in the US from alcohol poisoing each year.

    This is like carseats and helmets and keeping toxic chemicals in cabinets that babies can’t get into. A very small amount of alcohol can really truly kill a small child. You wouldn’t assume a toddler who drank just a little tiny bit of anti-freeze or floor cleaner was fine. Don’t assume a child who has consumed enough alcohol to be drunk is fine. A drunk child can, without exaggeration, be a dead child in a fairly short period of time. Just because you or your child turned out fine last time doesn’t mean that it always turns out fine.

  152. Jen April 23, 2011 at 5:12 am #

    I was not trying to control what Lenore posts. I was just expressing my thoughts and happened to agree with another commentor on this one. I have been reading and commenting here for a long time and I don’t like it when other people start getting angry with me or rude just b/c we don’t agree. It’s unnecessary.

    @ Tuppence- Thank you for your last comment. BTW, you asked for some references about the effects of alcohol on children. I wasn’t trying to be rude by ref. google. it’s just the easiest way. If you really want, I can get you some psychological studies when I have more time. (Used to be a bartender- now a psychologist/teacher).

    @ Rachel- I like you!

  153. pentamom April 23, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    “It takes less alcohol to intoxicate a child than an adult. This is partly due to a child’s smaller body size and partly because a child’s liver is immature and unable to deactivate toxic substances as efficiently as an adult’s liver.”

    But what is measurable in the blood is precisely that which the liver has failed to detoxify. So the point is the same — if the blood alcohol level is only .10, it is only .10, *by body weight,* and AFTER it’s been detoxified up to the liver’s capacity. Nobody’s looking at the amount consumed and saying it’s not a problem — we’re looking at the amount *measured in the blood,* which already accounts for body weight and liver capacity, and saying it’s not a lethal amount, or close to it.

    That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, that means all the stuff about “almost died” and “lasting damage” is so much hogwash. It can still matter without near death experiences and lasting damage.

  154. Tuppence April 23, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, that means all the stuff about “almost died” and “lasting damage” is so much hogwash. It can still matter without near death experiences and lasting damage.

    Zactly! Thanks for summarizing it perfectly, Pentamom.

  155. Donna April 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    “How does wondering why this is a free-range issue translate to trying to control what Lenore posts?”

    Because it’s usually done in a snide fashion, indicating “why are we even talking about this” and is always said by someone who doesn’t agree with Lenore on that topic. It also assumes that the poster has determined that Lenore can ONLY post about free range topics. It’s her blog and she can post lengthy analyses of the price of milk or nuclear weapons if she so desires. We, as readers, can comment on what is posted but not the legitimacy of her posting it. If you’re upset about a particular person that you think is attacking you, address that person or back out of the thread, but questioning the validity of a subject posted on their own blog seems kinda rude to me.

    “A drunk child can, without exaggeration, be a dead child in a fairly short period of time. ”

    Only if they continue to consume alcohol. If you’ve caught it before they hit a fatal level of alcohol, they don’t die.

    As someone who has had alcohol poisoning: (1) your blood alcohol level is WAAAAAAY over .1. (2) You only symptoms are not talking to walls. I puked for hours, passed out, woke up and continued to puke for hours (I believe it was about 48 hours before I stopped puking), my muscles cramped so that I could barely move (lack of oxygen to the muscles due to the high alcohol concentration in the blood). And this was a totally non-nearly fatal alcohol poisoning. I was never in danger of death.

    As other have said a child with .1 BAC is exactly the same alcohol concentration as an adult with .1 BAC. Yes, it takes a child less alcohol to get to that level; just like it takes less alcohol for a 120 lb adult than a 220 lb adult. But they are not more intoxicated than an adult at the same BAC. Based on the average weight of a toddler, I’d assume that this child really only had a couple sips of the drink before it was discovered.

    While I certainly don’t support accidently giving toddlers alcohol in restaurants, this particular kid was no where near death.

  156. susan April 24, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    I started reading the comments on this site because my daughter would post some comments once in a while. The more of these I read the more I think most of you people should be busier raising your kids than sitting on the computer reading about other peoples opinions. Since when do you need a hundred peoples input to know what is good for your family?
    All of you need to get a life, get off the computer and just do what you think if right for your own family. Some of the opinions on this site are downright dangerous, including the owners opinions. To say that kids are safe and that no danger will come to them if you let them ride the subway, ride their bikes in bad areas, and to not care who they talk to because “there are no bad people out there” is just ludicrious.
    You all need help yourselves.

  157. Myriam April 25, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Many of the people who read this blog believe that parents should just do what they think is right for their families – that’s one of the main themes of this blog.

    No-one here has ever said that children should ride their bikes in bad areas or be taught to believe that there are no bad people out there – far from it. However there is criticism of hysteria and self-righteousness masqerading as “concern”.

  158. pentamom April 25, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    “A shot is 28.3495 grams.”

    A shot *of 200 proof* is 28.3495 grams of alcohol. A 12 oz. glass of non-light beer therefore contains less than half of that, a typical 6 ounce glass of wine a little more than half.

    “A 20 lb toddler would experience a blood alcohol up to .225 g% from one beer or one shot.”

    I question this calculation, because the “shot = one beer” formulation usually assumes stuff people actually drink in shots, which tends to be in the 40%-60% alcohol by volume range, not the 200 proof (which is very rare) that you evidently used to calculate the 28 grams per shot. (I did look up alcohol mass by volume.) But I don’t know for certain.

    Again, just trying to bring some accuracy to the comparisons, not disputing that it’s not a good thing for a small child to drink alcohol, knowingly or unknowingly.

  159. Micki April 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    I find this whole thread amusing. The kid was exposed to a mixed drink, it’s not like he was sucking down Everclear, or sampled antifreeze. Most of what he was drinking was not actually acohol. He is 15 months old, and children are incredibly resilient. I am sure he will be fine. If he wasn’t, the parents who are currently suing Applebees would be sure to let us know about it.

  160. Scott April 26, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I am all aboard with the all-gazpacho policy. Gazpacho is delicious and hard to find. Let’s come down hard on restaurants that serve warm soup and put their owners in jail. Hot soup is dangerous. Gazpacho is not.

  161. SKL April 27, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    I can’t resist making one more comment. Someone above said “if he was talking to the wall, he was dangerously drunk.” Well, they have not met my 4yo. She acts like a drunken sailor whenever she drinks mango juice. It’s actually hilarious. Rolling around, singing, laughing about nothing, etc. We always joke that she is DRUNK! I am almost afraid of the day I introduce her to actual alcohol.

    Thing is, the parents thought the behavior was weird, and they know their son. Therefore, I’m going with them on that. He was drunk. Drunker than he’d ever been before. But dangerously? That is most likely an exaggeration.

  162. Myriam April 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    OK, I said “dangerously” but the point I was trying to make was actually that we can all agree that it wasn’t a good thing that he had drunk some alcohol but that that is all really beside the point.

    Whether the child was a little bit drunk or nearly died from alcohol poisoning, the fact is it was due to one person’s one-off mistake. Whatever we do such mistakes will always happen and making one-off errors or accidents the basis of blanket policies can have undesirable and unintended consequences.

  163. tdr April 29, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    I love the bit about the toddler saying “hi” to the walls!

    About 30 yrs ago I was babysitting a 2 yr old. The parents put wine in a pitcher and I gave it to him thinking it was grape juice. We all got a good laugh out of it and the kid repeated to me endlessly with a big smile on his face “You gave me wine, right?”

    Noone got in trouble. Not me and not the parents.

  164. tdr April 29, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    Oh and he is a well-functioning 30 something by now. No lasting brain damage I’m sure. 😉

  165. Darrel Streight February 8, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Within YouTube video embed code you can also give parameters in accordance to your wish like width, height or even border colors.


  1. Death and Taxes, a Round Up « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue - April 21, 2011

    […] In Death [of the West] category, Applebee accidentally serves child alcohol, overreacts. […]

  2. Saturday Links (4/23/11) | The Screaming Kettle at Home - April 23, 2011

    […] If I could have any one person write a parenting book that I could force every U.S. citizen to read and implement, it would be Lenore Skenazy. Here she weighs in on the whole toddler-getting-drunk-at-Applebee’s thing. […]

  3. Applebees Chairs - HOME DECOR WORLD – HOME DECOR WORLD - May 7, 2011

    […] Wow, needless to say a group of 20 at Applebees caused and issue … Applebees Chairs" title=" Applebees Chairs" width="543" style="border:none"> PEOPLE REPORT: Kaucic and Prutsman of Applebee's to Chair People … Applebees Chairs" title=" Applebees Chairs" width="543" style="border:none"> Ergonomic Chairs For Back Pain Applebees Chairs" title=" Applebees Chairs" width="543" style="border:none"> Applebee's Over-reaction « FreeRangeKidsAçıklama : 1) In a pizza place a few years ago my chair collapsed and I fell to the floor in a rather sudden and jarring way. The waitress brought me a new chair. My back hurt for a few weeks. (We didn’t even get a comped Diet Coke. …http://freerangekids.wordpress .. […]

  4. Free Range Kids » A Knife, a Walmart Birthday Cake and a Frenzy of Overreaction - March 15, 2013

    […] you’re wondering what, for its part, Walmart did…I bet you can guess. Reminds me of what Applebee’s did after a waitress accidentally served a kid a cocktail instead of apple juice.  The m.o.? Wild […]