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Unscrewed Salt Shaker

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An annoying prank in restaurants, wherein the top of a salt shaker is unscrewed and left loosely sitting on top. The next person to attempt to use it will unexpectedly get an entire jar-full of salt all over their food. On occasion, it might be done with a pepper shaker—causing a Pepper Sneeze.

The combination of being a Discredited Trope and the harsh effect of ruining someone's entire meal for a cheap laugh means this prank usually doesn't get a very good reception, unless the target is particularly unpopular. It can also be used to establish that Evil Is Petty.


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     Films — Animated 

     Films — Live-Action 
  • The Brothers Bloom: The sugar variation. Bloom tries to shake some sugar into his coffee and it won't pour. In disgust, he puts it back down on the table. The sugar jar is instantly picked up by Stephen, who taps it twice on the table, then pours sugar into his cup of coffee. Still disgusted, Bloom picks up the jar after Stephen puts it down and pours... and the entire jar of sugar pours into his coffee.
  • La Chèvre: At the airport, Campana unscrews the salt shaker when Perrin is eating eggs. Perrin uses the shaker and a lot of salt falls on his eggs, but he does not seem to notice it and keeps on eating. A bit later, he says that the eggs are too salty.
  • Daredevil: Matt's colleague is irritated with him and hands him the mustard instead of honey. Matt plays along, squirting the mustard into his cup, but promptly swaps them as soon as Franklin is looking elsewhere.
  • Kiler: Used to a lethal effect. The titular protagonist tries to salt his soup in the prison cafeteria, but the lid falls into the bowl. The prison bully, Uszat, promptly grabs the bowl and pours the entire contents into his mouth, then dies by choking on the lid. This promptly elevates Kiler to Living Legend status among the prisoners.
  • My Sweet Little Village: A worker at the dining hall of the collective farm does this to Otik and Pavek, unscrewing the cap to the salt shaker. Otik haplessly uses the salt shaker on Pavek's food, prompting a Death Glare from Pavek after Otik dumps the whole shaker of salt into Pavek's soup.
  • Pure Luck: Raymond decides to test Eugene's bad luck for himself and does this. He unscrews one salt shaker and puts it alongside a screwed one near Eugene, while Eugene is out. When Eugene comes back, contrary to Raymond's expectations, he grabs the normal one... only for a waiter to come by and ask for one of the shakers. Eugene gives him the one he's holding and then uses the unscrewed one. After dumping all the salt on his food, he calmly proceeds to eat it without any negative reactions. Obviously, this happens to him frequently enough that he's gotten used to the overly salty food.
  • You're Darn Tootin': Done by Laurel and Hardy. Stan, unable to get any salt out of the shaker, unscrews the top. Then Ollie tries to use the shaker, not realising what has happened, and the entire contents end up in his soup. He promptly changes plates with Stan, only for the whole process to be repeated with the pepper.

     Comic Books 
  • The Powerpuff Girls: #41's lead story, "Pizza My Heart," has Buttercup and a faulty garlic shaker, which pours a mound of garlic salt on her pizza slice. She proceeds to gross out Blossom and Bubbles by eating the slice, mound of garlic salt and all.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Corner Gas: In "You've Been Great, Goodnight", Davis tries to set this up with Karen to prove that the cops are funny, but Karen forgets to actually unscrew it. Davis later gets a girl from the high school drama club to demonstrate the trick properly to Karen.
  • Happy Days: Done in an early episode at Arnold's by Ralph Malph to some random extra. Ralph found this hilarious. Less than two minutes later, Ralph is eating and starts to shake some salt and gets a pile himself, presumably courtesy the same guy.
  • Frasier: This happens to Niles with a sugar shaker while he's getting coffee. He notices some teenage girls sitting at the next table and laughing, so he loudly tells them off for being so childish. The girls then tell him they weren't the ones who unscrewed the cap, which is when a pair of middle-aged men at another table burst into laughter, indicating they played the prank. One of the girls asks if Niles is going to yell at them too, but Niles sheepishly claims the men probably heard him the first time.
  • Fringe: September inflicts this trope on himself when he deliberately unscrews the top of the pepper shaker, and then proceeds to dump the contents onto his plate of food. Apparently the Observers have extremely dulled taste buds and iron cast stomachs.

     Newspaper Comics 

     Video Games 
  • Cragne Manor: A clipping near the library has a child saying that his uncle taught him to unscrew the salt shaker so people get too much salt on their food. The kid finds it amusing, so he starts putting laundry detergent and broken glass in the shaker instead.
  • Hello Kitty: Happy Party Pals: Tracy, Kitty's raccoon friend, apparently loosened the salt shaker lids in the Sushi restaurant. He tells Kitty not to use the salt shakers at the Sushi Restaurant because of this, and Kathy (the rabbit) had noticed, as well.
  • Undertale has Sans tampering with the ketchup bottle to prank you if you accept his offer of ketchup for your food at Grillby's. He's a good enough sport to give you his lunch after yours gets drenched in ketchup thanks to his prank. If you don't accept the initial offer, he just chugs the bottle of ketchup all in one go instead.


     Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Duncan pranks Trent

Thanks to Duncan, Trent spills salt and pepper all over his scrambled eggs... and Heather.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnscrewedSaltShaker

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