Introduction: Free Baked Cinnamon Garbage

Picture of Free Baked Cinnamon Garbage

A local bakery used to throw out a lot of cinnamon bread. When someone comes back from that dumpster you hear "Any cinnamon?". But sadly no, there's never any cinnamon bread in those dumpsters anymore.

However, they do throw out a lot of dough when they're done filling the breadpans...

photo by Nagutron

Step 1: The Hunt

Picture of The Hunt

Dumpster Dowsing is a rare skill or rather a talent.

You must unhinge your third eye's lower jaw and swallow the universe with your mind, then dissolve yourself in it.

If you're a master of Filipino psychic surgery, you probably have this gift.

Today it's easy. The dough has risen enough to sploosh up through the loaves and reveal its cinnamony baby cheeks.

Step 2: The Kill

Picture of The Kill

Heart hammering, I crept into the monster's den and reached under its warm body to grip the bag of treasure without waking it.

In a single move I flung its infant out of the cave still wrapped in black plastic placenta. Pungent cinnamon afterbirth went everywhere.

I fled down the trail with my prize. No footfalls echoed my own.
My huge eyes darted for signs of Hyenas (Pixar security guards) and Warthogs (Anglo bread drivers who say "shouldn't be doing that". The immigrant drivers love it when you save bread from waste)

Step 3: Back at the Lab

Picture of Back at the Lab

I put the shmoo creature in a cozy bin in the kitchen and rounded up every ovenproof vessel for an orgy of baking. There was a whole lot of cinnamon stuff in the bag, far more than would ever go in the bakery's loaves. I put the pans in at 375 and the smell was unbelievably good.

Step 4: Testing on Humans

Picture of Testing on Humans

Moe-Zarticus came from his alcove to sample the hot stuff.

"Mwff!" He declared, "Mwumwumff!"

after a minute we still hadn't heard whether he'd died or not, so we all feasted.

Step 5: The Food of Philosophers

Picture of The Food of Philosophers

I continued to bake cinnamon stuff for days afterward. I found a muffin pan in a storage-unit dumpster, so I started making what Eric called "Cinnamuffin Rolls"
Whenever the delicious smell filled the building people would come rushing to feast.

Sometimes I overheard dialogue:

"But why am I eating this?"
"Because it's delicious."
"but it's garbage..."

As I'm fond of saying "A dumpster is like an art gallery, they can put anything in there, and to get the most out of it you have to look really carefully."


TimAnderson (author)2008-02-26

You know where food comes from originally , right? It just grows on a big pile of shit and dirt that's left out in the sun. Or it's squeezed out of or chopped off animals that sleep in shit, have sex with other animals and never take a bath.
The fact that something is in a dumpster rather than your mom's fridge tells you little about whether it's good to eat. Most refrigerators have food in them that's years old, and such pathogens as Crohn's disease. A commercial dumpster that's emptied frequently does not.
You have to look at it, smell it, and use your animal skills to decide if you want to wash it, or cook it, or whatever.

NamOoni1974 (author)2015-02-05

I loved this instructable! Tim if I was not happily married I would come courting.

ryanpdg1 (author)2013-03-13

geez... do you guys know why they threw it out in the first place?
I can just imagine " Oh no, I accidentally dumped bleach into this batch" "Well throw it out then! We don't want people to die from eating our food!"

Thundermoon99 (author)2012-11-27

this honestly kinda scares me a bit but it looks yummy

ilpug (author)2012-01-19

This makes me feel much better about dropping that sammitch and then picking it up and eating it yesterday.

frenzy (author)2010-08-19

so sad semifreddies moved to Alameda :-(

noelle_tan (author)2009-02-08

Do you pick up lets say an uneaten, wrapped, perfectly good sandwich or do you just not mind a half-eaten burger hastily dumped into the dumpster section for eggshells, dust, a used tissue, lint, and a stray-cat named Carl? No sarcasm intended. And not a rhetorical question.

TimAnderson (author)noelle_tan2009-02-15

Eating trash is just like going to an art museum. They put all kinds of stuff in there, and it's up to you to figure out what you like or don't like. Or like looking for food in your Mom's fridge. That jar of mayo with the hieroglyphics on it might have been there from when the fridge was a space sarcophagus landing from planet Norge. You've got the animal senses to smell and detect what might kill you and what might make you vigorous and give you a shiny coat.

Yerboogieman (author)TimAnderson2009-11-06

Uhh, Tim? Come back to earth..

altgrave (author)Yerboogieman2010-07-28

made sense to me!

Pinky212 (author)2010-02-24

I can't stqnd waste!  What a pity this is!  I'm glad you're getting something out of it.  I understand the liability concerns, but com'on, people have lost jobs and are hungry.  Couldn't they put it in another "clean" dumpster where they know people will get it but officially it's being stolen?.  It's not like they're going to lose business.  The wealthy don't Dumpster Dive!

ixisuprflyixi (author)2009-10-09

Stupid question and I didn't read all the comments to find out if you already answered a similar question but, how do you know that the cinnamon wasn't in that garbage bag because it fell on the floor or the blew a snot rocket in that batch or something similarly disgusting? Just wondering. Also if anyone is in the mood look up the book   "the art and science of dumpster diving" by John Hoffman, Good book, fascinating really. 

Berkin (author)2009-10-05


wordgirrl (author)2008-01-31

dude--you know that garbage bags are made with insecticide in them to discourage pests, right? are you making this from dough that's directly inside the bag? it looks delicious, but...i'm a little worried about you and your friends!

urbanhg (author)wordgirrl2008-02-02

why would garbage bags have insecticide on them it seems pretty wasteful to me to spray plastic bags with insecticide i dont think that would be a wise use of a company's funds when they could just bang out some plastic and call it a day

wordgirrl (author)urbanhg2008-02-02

to keep pests away from the garbage while it sits outside and waits for collection day. i've never read labels, but i took some classes through the community college and the health department here a few years ago when i was thinking about making my catering hobby a real business, and this is where i heard about the pesticides in trash bags. (the context being that caterers need to find solid ways of transporting equipment, tools, supplies, and ingredients, and trash bags aren't allowed because of this pesticide.) i suppose that it could be an urban legend, but i wouldn't take my chances with food.

poi_pai (author)wordgirrl2009-06-07

That's not true, if it were, why would mothers make trash bag ponchos for their kids? I'd like to think that we aren't accidenally poisoning our kids by keeping them dry in a pinch.

kirnex (author)poi_pai2009-06-26

How many parents do you know who take classes in ecology before deciding on a rainy day to use a trash bag as a makeshift poncho?

poi_pai (author)kirnex2009-07-02

I doubt they took the classes for that sole purpose, but three. Going to the beach and doing marine biology lessons with little kids is surprisingly fun as well. I miss being a kid now...

kirnex (author)poi_pai2009-07-02

Ah, you should move to a beach area so you can relive those times (as if it were just that simple)! Sadly, I now have to live it vicariously through college-aged step-kids and my own kids--all of whom's lives are MUCH more exciting and culturally varied than mine EVER was as a kid! You're right, though--it's more fun to be a kid: then people also don't look at you quite as strangely when you actually ACT like one. No one takes you quite as seriously when you're little.

poi_pai (author)kirnex2009-07-05

The way I see it, I took things too seriously as a kid, and I'm making up for it now. Heck, I'm happy enough knowing my Goddaughter can wear either red OR blue to school without a fear of getting shot.

tcabeen (author)wordgirrl2008-01-31

I think this is a totally fair argument. But then ... weighed against all the chemicals that go into food that's allowed to be sold off grocery store shelves, and over fast food counters, etc etc etc ... I still wonder if even a little trash-bag insecticide is such a big deal. I'd be a little timid about eating it, probably. I'm just saying I don't think my own trepidation would be enough to counter the baked cinnamonny goodness swirling through my nose.

wordgirrl (author)tcabeen2008-01-31

so, so true. mmm, cinnamon.

monkeeeee001 (author)2009-06-30

I had heard, a while ago, that many restaurants and bakeries are required to pour bleach on the food that they throw away. I am pretty sure that this information is absolute bologna, but I just wanted to make sure. Is this the case anywhere? Particularly concerning Minneapolis, MN and surrounding areas...

soulscour7 (author)2009-04-29

A garbage bag producing company would have to label their bags if they contained pesticides. Since your hands would come in contact with their product during normal use the likelihood of the inclusion of insecticide is unlikely and illogical. When was the last time you saw a fly avoid garbage in trash bags? Have you seen garbage bags packaged with this warning: 'Caution: Harmful if swallowed or absorbed through skin. Avoid breathing spray mist. Avoid contact with skin or clothing. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling. Provide adequate ventilation of area being treated. Do not apply to humans, pets, or plants, or contaminate feed, foodstuffs, dishes, or utensils. Cover and avoid spraying fish aquariums. Cover or remove exposed food, dishes, utensils, and food handling equipment. Keep out of reach of children.' That was taken from the warning label for Raid ant spray. The dough is fine.

guitarman63mm (author)soulscour72009-06-26

Thank you. This nonsense of it being poisoned is totally unwarranted. Great 'ible, I've not seen someone trying it with dough before. Usually they just eat the pizza and ditch.

wenpherd (author)2009-06-26

is that...... safe to eat

kirnex (author)2009-06-26

I would personally never dumpster-dive--especially for food, although I'm completely favorable toward curb-perusing for items to refurbish. Dumpsters, however, are NOT regularly cleaned, sit out in heat and are not designed to inhibit bacteria, etc. Thus, the chances of encountering various types of dangerous molds, bacterias, even viruses is pretty high. Just an additional thought: our local city's health department lists restaurant and food-specialty stores' health inspection info online. If I WERE so inclined to dumpster dive for food, I would probably want to go see how that establishment rates in their inspections. There's a place down the street that happens to be owned by someone in my small neighborhood. The place SEEMS, on the outside, to be really quite a nice place. The owner lives in an upscale home, keeps everything nice, and is always offering to host various events for the neighborhood at his restaurant. Out of curiosity one day, I checked out his restaurant online and found out in terms of health inspections, the place is a gutter-cesspool. He's failed numerous inspections for CRITICAL errors. I'm just saying: that's the kind of place you'd want to avoid. But it SEEMS nice: it's an "upscale" restaurant. If you were inclined to forage for food in dumpsters, you'd choose this place to do it! I've got to say: since then, I check every restaurant I consider eating at online before I go. Finding out your fave place has failed inspection for the last several years for problems like keeping food way past its expiration, improper food storage, etc. is a real bummer, but getting food poisoning is a lot worse!

poi_pai (author)2009-06-07

I agree whole heartedly, there is absolutly nothing wrong with dumpster diving. Common sense is the best ticket in most of the situations one will run into. Instead of knocking it, be thankful there is a choice for most of us. We CHOOSE to look for things / food in these places. I gotta say I remember a time not too long ago that it wasn't a choice. I'll tell you what though, it's a valuable skill to have. It's not like there's a step that says "Grab a handful of raw dough, put in mouth, chew, swallow, repeat as needed". I bet I have something much scarier in my fridge at this moment than an oven fresh piece of bread with unorthdox origin. *checks fridge* Yep, much scarier. Duck Confit.

daemonkrog (author)2008-10-15

I just think its funny when people get all squeamish about dumpster diving, especially when someone's found decent food. There's just some rules of thumb when diving for food, keep to things that are sealed. These bread-things I'll admit though are one of the best exceptions I've ever seen. To those saying "Eww gross" Think about it, they were cooked at 375 degrees. Your hands are dirtier than they are.. go wash up! _

puffyfluff (author)2008-09-07

Wow. The Instructables team eats garbage. That's... disturbing.

But I still want to work there...

Lithium Rain (author)2008-04-10

*sigh* I wish I could work at squid sounds like so much fun. What positions are open? :D </wishful thinking>

puffyfluff (author)Lithium Rain2008-09-07

I have to agree.

Woodenbikes (author)2008-08-15

Yippee! We have a saying at our house... Mmmm, it's dumpster-licious!
There is something very satisfying about meeting your needs from other people's would-be landfilled items. Dumpster Dipping
Another mantra is: "The dumpster will provide."

Danish M1Garand (author)2008-01-29

Freegans make me laugh. You claim to reject the very consumer culture that you exist on. It produces so much abundance that you may exist on it's castoffs. Move to the country, grow a garden, raise some chickens and pigs. Then you are truly rejecting the consumer culture.

urbanhg (author)Danish M1Garand2008-01-30

i subsist mainly on a freegan diet and its not so much as rejecting consumer culture as it is 1. being thrifty ( i can easily get $60-$70 worth of produce in about an hour that lasts me the whole week) 2. In a world where 842 million people go without sufficient food on a daily basis it seems incredibly wasteful to let that food that is otherwise good go and sit in a land fill. lastly i feel there is nothing wrong with living on the excesses of American society think about how much shit you throw away because you got something newer or its a little broken... a lot of things can be fixed easily with a little bit of known how and a can do attitude. :-)

The Wapusk (author)urbanhg2008-01-30

I have an ex who worked for a certain hockey player named donut chain here. They tossed dozens of bagels at the end of the day. When she asked why not give them to the shelter (three blocks away) she was told by management that they could not. Lest the needy complained about "stale" bagels. How *wrong* is that?

I was in bagels for a long while, the reason they complain is that many stores give to rescue missions, and the homeless people get constipated from all the bagels. Plus, the ones who like to drink complain that bagels absorb too much liquor, so they stop being as drunk.It totally sucks, too, because we'd end up throwiing away so many. I used to do Food Not Bombs , and more than one homeless fella flipped me off when they were offered bagels! Now who'd a thought, beggars can be choosers?

by the way, dumpster divers, beware the ides of filled donuts. As a hungry homeless youth, I stalked donut and bagel shops, because they can't sell those day-olds, so they throw them all away. Looking to get the maximum first bite(it had been a couple of days.) I seized he first big filled I saw, a raspberry. i took a big hungry bite, and as I chewed happily, I suddenly saw that the filling was writhing with happy industrious little maggots. To say the very least, I will not eat a filled, even fresh, ever ever again. To be so hungry and so nauseous was intense!

HockeyPop (author)Subconscionaut2008-02-01

Here's a little trick that I learned while volunteering at a food bank... Take a box of any brand of raisin and bran cereal, remove the bag (still sealed) from the box. Lay the bag on it's side in a dark room, with an UV light laying parallel to one of the long edges. Leave the bag for an hour or two, then come back and inspect the bag (left laying in the same position) along the illuminated edge to see what has been drawn to the light. It took me many years before I was able to eat a bowl of Raisin Bran again, and that was only after realizing that most production made foods have a certain percentage of insect material in them (although, usually not living).... :o)

ewohkoda (author)HockeyPop2008-02-01

awwwwww i dont even want to know

I will still eat raisin bran, because it's never killed me before.

How come Walls is allowed to sell expired chips?

nodnol (author)The Wapusk2008-01-31

Actually, there are health code laws that prohibit serving food that has been out a certain amount of time. Unfortunately, the law applies to food donations, so they're not allowed to give the food out, even if they want to. Then again, I find it hard to think poorly of Timmies (jelly filled donut holes, anyone?? mmmm....heaven) so maybe I'm just trying to justify.....

urbanhg (author)nodnol2008-02-01

they can give out the food there is something known as The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. it basically says

It protects donors from liability when donating to a non-profit organization.

It protects donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the needy recipient.

It standardizes donor liability exposure. Donors and their legal counsel no longer have to investigate liability laws in 50 states.

It sets a liability floor of "gross negligence" or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products. (See Act text for further definitions.)
bullet Congress recognized that the provision of food close to recommended date of sale is, in and of itself, not grounds for finding gross negligence. For example, cereal can be donated if it is marked close to code date for retail sale.

groups like food not bombs use this to get food donated all the time that would otherwise be thrown away and then go out and serve it as a meal to hungry people

urbanhg (author)urbanhg2008-02-02

ps... this includes fresh foods such as produce which are bruised or browning and very ripe... food not bombs kids usualy will cut off the bad parts and use whats still good... its sad that most americans will waste an entire apple if it has a little mark in it or it is bruised ... we need to stop living in such an uptight atmosphere... our ancestors wouldnt mind eating a bruised apple it wont kill us! :-) anway have a nice day all its to beautiful to be on this computer... cant wait to hit the woods for a hike in a few

TimAnderson (author)urbanhg2008-02-01

Best Comment Ever Award!!!!

meritsetgo (author)nodnol2008-02-02

what's even worse is that in my area health codes prohibit any kind of fresh food donations at all and all shelters have to cook food on the premises and be certified as a restaurant, so many are just shutting down because of having to have a certified food manager, separate insurance, and all the red tape. So now they have to tell the homeless to go dumpster diving again to get their food. Is this insane or what?

cfuse (author)nodnol2008-02-01

Probably not applicable everywhere, but I live in Australia and I saw an interesting spot on our public broadcaster about feeding expired goods to farm animals. It was mainly about giving milk animals sweets and biscuits to improve the quality and yield. This would seem to be a sensible way to get more use from a product that is going to end up in the bin otherwise. Seeing a cow eating a giant (the size of a pallet on each side) cube of 'minty' was almost as funny as seeing the goats with lollies stuck to their necks.

woofboy111 (author)The Wapusk2008-01-31

I was at Universal Studios a few years ago at a concert. I was standing next to a food cart and they had two cases of soft pretzels. About halfway through the show, I saw the employee take one of the cases and dump the pretzels into a nearby garbage can. I went up and asked if she was throwing the other pretzels away too. She replied yes, and I asked if I could have one since they were being thrown out anyway. She called up her manager to ask permission, and the response was that I could have one if I pay the $4.00 for the pretzel. I declined, and moments later the second case of pretzels was in the garbage as well. Not being able to give out stale bagels is one thing, but trying to sell something that is going into the garbage anyway is something else all together....

About This Instructable



Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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