Lebron James Eats for Free: Five Food Bribes That Might Work

A recent University of Texas at Dallas release that was ostensibly about T-shirts raises an interesting food issue:

Explaining why he'd decided to display 300 commemorative T-shirts in a university building, Dean J. Michael Coleman said, "Free food and free T-shirts are the common denominators of most events planned for undergraduates."

If you want to see the T-shirts, they're on clotheslines crisscrossing the Cecil and Ida Green Center. But here at City of Ate, we're more interested in all that free pizza -- which presumably wasn't suitable for hanging.

Even in an age when industrial advancements have made food so cheap that a McDonalds' cheeseburger only costs a quarter more than it did 20 years ago, free food's still an irresistible incentive. Calculus club membership flagging? Free doughnuts for everyone! Having trouble attracting students to a history department meeting? Try breakfast tacos! Child psychologists and nutritionists may rail against bribing tykes with edible rewards, but college administrators, club organizers and managers know people will do almost anything for free food. It's surely a primitive instinct: Perhaps a few thousand years of battling mastodons left humans grateful for any meal that doesn't involve a chase and a club.

How grateful? Here, we present five brilliant food bribes -- a few of which actually worked:

A Burger for Your Blood The threat of blindness and body sores seems like reason enough to get tested and treated for syphilis, but that wasn't working in Wayne County, North Carolina, where there's lately been a surge in venereal disease rates. So, health workers last year canvassed neighborhoods, offering $5 McDonald's gift cards to residents who'd agree to get tested for syphilis and H.I.V. In the span of four hours, workers recruited more than 300 test takers.

Click It for Chicken From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the South Carolina Highway Patrol is handing out Chick-fil-A spicy chicken sandwich coupons to drivers and passengers found wearing their seatbelts. The 55,000 coupons will be distributed at the patrollers' discretion; Drivers stopped for drunk driving are unlikely to score the free sandwich, even if their belts are buckled. But local officers say law-abiding citizens aren't shy about demanding their coupons when stopped for minor traffic offenses.

The $5,000 Pizza College students love pizza. They love pizza more than their credit scores, as many dismayed parents discovered when they learned of Junior's credit card debt. Until a law enacted this year banned the practice, credit card salesmen on campuses actually signed up students at Papa John's pizzerias. "I thought, 'Free pizza? Good deal,'" an Indiana University student told MSNBC.

Nice Char on That Crust Frank John Foschini had a heroin habit and a taste for pizza, so he immediately accepted when a pizzeria owner in Melbourne, Australia, offered him free pizza for life in exchange for burning down his rival's pizza parlor. Foschini was caught and sent to jail last year: No word on whether his employer upheld his end of the bargain.

Playing Hardball What does LeBron want? Money? A ring? Dinner from Lola? Celebrity chef Michael Symon last month added a culinary dimension to the free-agent's decision-making process, offering to cook a monthly dinner for the superstar if he'd just stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mario Batali then bested Symon on behalf of the Knicks, promising a delicious dinner for 20 every other week. The world finds out tonight whether either bribe worked.

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