In a nutshell, condom case closed
Post Independent Staff
Condoms may not exactly grow on trees. But it turns out they’re a lot easier to find in hazelnut shells than one might expect.
After the Post Independent reported Wednesday about a yellow condom found in a nutshell bought at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rifle, several readers reported having seen the items over the years.
Rifle police chief Daryl Meisner also came to learn that a company actually sells the condom-stuffed hazelnuts.
“It’s a novelty item,” he said.
Probably no crime was committed by whoever apparently slipped one of them into some mixed nuts that Diane Geist of Silt bought before Christmas, Meisner said. Her husband discovered the condom on New Year’s Eve morning.
“Because there’s no malicious intent we’re closing the case,” Meisner said.
Meisner said he hasn’t talked to Wal-Mart or the nut supplier, Diamond Foods, about the situation, which Geist reported to police on Tuesday.
“There’s no point in wasting their time or ours,” he said.
He said he couldn’t find any law that was violated in the case, but added, “I’m sure somebody could be offended by it and I don’t want to sell that short.”
Geist had found the matter amusing rather than offensive, but worried that someone could put something more dangerous into a nutshell. She said Wednesday it’s logical that someone may have tossed one of the concealed condoms into the bulk bin where she had bought the nuts.
The novelty nuts may not be rare, “but maybe I’m the first to buy one at Wal-Mart,” she said.
Debby and Bill O’Leary, owners of O’Leary’s saloon in Rifle, said condom-stuffed nuts found their way into area bars over the summer. Debby O’Leary said someone who worked for the natural gas industry was bringing them in.
“We’d call him the nut man,” said Debby O’Leary.
She said the gag nuts abounded and someone probably stuck one into the Wal-Mart bulk bin as a joke.
Her husband said the items have been around for years, and he brought two of them in to the Post Independent Wednesday. They appear to be made by drilling out the stem of a hazelnut and removing the innards, then plugging the shell with a wood paste after inserting the condom. Breaking one apart revealed a pink condom inside.
In a letter to the editor in today’s Post Independent, Kirk Beattie of Rifle wrote that he saw something similar about 20 years ago in Wisconsin. A bartender had him break open a condom-stuffed acorn and joked that it was the reason for a declining deer population.
Said Meisner, “Apparently there’s a fellow in Glenwood who just loves to give them to his friends and get a yuk out of it.”
Meisner said he went on the Internet and found a company that makes the novelty hazelnuts. A search using Yahoo turns up the Rubber Nut Co., apparently based in Montana. A company official could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Vicki Zeigler, public relations manager for Diamond Foods, said she agrees that the nut purchased at the Wal-Mart store apparently got there as a result of a prank.
“We are so concerned about quality control that we will continue to investigate, but that’s just from a quality control aspect. We won’t be pursuing it any further after that,” she said.
Zeigler previously had noted that Diamond Foods has no control over bulk items once they leave its plant. The company is moving toward selling more packaged nuts in part because of consumer concerns over possible tampering.
Karen Burk, a Wal-Mart spokesperson, said the company continues to be interested in the incident.
“We’ll certainly look into this to see if we can find out any information on how this happened,” she said.
Meanwhile, anyone who comes across one of the, shall we say, specialty nuts might take heed of the seemingly sensible caveat the Rubber Nut Co. offers via Its Web site.
“They are for fun only and are not to be eaten or used,” the company advises.
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