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What is Double Dipping?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 17, 2024
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In a classic episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, George Costanza, played by Jason Alexander, commits a fatal food etiquette faux pas at a wake by "double dipping" his corn chip into a communal bowl of dip. Another guest notices the blatant double dipping and confronts him about it. A fist fight ensues as George defends his right to dip any way he chooses and the other man refuses to allow any more double dipping to take place.

After this episode aired, manufacturers of snack foods and dips were inundated with consumer questions about the dubious practice of double dipping. Was it actually dangerous for someone to dip a chip into a communal bowl, take a bite, and then dip the chip again? Would this practice contaminate the entire dip, or could it survive the occasional double dipping?

One manufacturer of corn chips did issue a largely tongue-in-cheek response to the double dipping issue, but it did contain a few snippets of real advice. The practice of double dipping a snack chip or vegetable stick is considered to be a major infraction of food etiquette by many experts. Since the dip-laden chip must be put in the consumer's mouth, the rest of the chip should be considered half-eaten, or even partially digested. Placing the remainder of the chip back into a communal bowl would indeed be the same as putting one's entire mouth in it, just as the party guest suggested to George shortly before fists began to fly.

Instead of double dipping a chip, some experienced party planners suggest spreading enough dip to cover the entire chip at one time. If this is impractical, then a small amount of additional dip could be scooped onto the consumer's plate or applied to the half-eaten chip with a new chip. The danger point of double dipping is the return trip to the dip bowl. Guests should be aware of the public aversion concerning double dipping and avoid the practice altogether. The only exception would be if the dip in question were not communal and the sole consumer intends to finish off the contents himself or herself. If the dip or spread is intended to be communal, then the conventional wisdom is to dip the chip once and act done with it.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By HoosierLewie — On Mar 05, 2009

There are valid health concerns here. Many viruses and bacteria can be transmitted via saliva. Subsequent dippers run the risk of being infected with hepatitis, HSV1 and 2 infections, etc. Similar concerns surround the peanut dishes at bars. So, no double dipping period. No consumption of nuts from bar nut dishes either.

By anon27710 — On Mar 04, 2009

Double dipping can also refer to someone who is getting retirement benefits from two different sources.

Donald W. Bales

By anon27691 — On Mar 04, 2009

Double Dipping offends me to a greater extent in regard to all the Govt. pensions that fall into that category.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
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