Sunday, February 16, 2014

Archie's Brush With Food Poisoning

Food poisoning was the topic of the All in the Family episode that aired 40 years ago tonight.

Gloria (Sally Struthers) was sick with the flu and didn't feel like eating the beef and mushroom stew that Edith (Jean Stapleton) had prepared. When Archie (Carroll O'Connor) got home, he was hungry and wouldn't wait for Mike (Rob Reiner) so Archie wolfed down a helping of the stew. Edith said she had had a big lunch at a women's meeting at the church so Archie ate alone.

When Mike arrived, however, he bore the distressing news that a brand of canned mushrooms had been recalled because it caused food poisoning. Mike and Edith thought that no one in the Bunker household should eat any more of the stew until they could be sure of the brand; Edith had thrown out the empty cans and didn't remember what the brand was.

"Oh, my, I hope I ain't poisoned you, Archie," Edith said when she heard about the recall.

Since no one knew the brand of the mushrooms Edith had used in the stew, they couldn't be certain. So, to be on the safe side, the Bunkers made a mad dash for the emergency room.

All except Gloria.

It's one of my favorite moments in the series' history. After all four Bunkers had exited the house, Mike brought Gloria back in a few seconds later and admonished her: "You can't go to the hospital. You're sick!"

At the hospital, Archie got frustrated with the admitting nurse's questions, something with which just about anyone who has ever been hospitalized will sympathize. The nurse asked Archie his mother's maiden name.

"She's dead!" he replied. "What do you gotta know that for?"

Edith gave the nurse the information she had requested, then Archie told her, "I'll tell her you asked for her when I see her in a few minutes."

When the doctor saw Archie, he couldn't be sure if Archie had food poisoning. The symptoms might take awhile to show up. To be on the safe side, Archie wound up getting a shot. Always looking to make a quick buck, Archie began plotting a lawsuit against the company that canned the mushrooms, and he instructed Gloria to contact the Jewish law firm that had represented him previously.

Then Edith came in, having stopped at the market on the way home to pick up some ice cream for Archie. She had more than ice cream with her. She had news. She hadn't use the tainted mushrooms in her stew after all. She had remembered a pink–and–yellow label, just like the product that had been recalled, but the label on the mushrooms Edith purchased was actually pink with a yellow sticker that identified it as a sale item.

Obviously, the lawsuit fell through.

That left Archie with, in his own words, "a lot of that anti–toxin dope cruising through my system looking for some disease to attack!"

A sympathetic Mike gave Archie a pat on his arm — bad move, considering that was the arm that got the inoculation.