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The Crosby Chronicles: Burbank should discourage sunflower seed spitting

May 15, 2012|By Brian Crosby
  • Sunflower seed debris at Burbank's Olive Park.
Sunflower seed debris at Burbank's Olive Park. (Brian Crosby )

“Eat, Spit and Be Happy.” That’s the motto of ConAgra’s David Sunflower Seeds. That also apparently is the motto of most people who sit in city park bleachers as evidenced by the abundant piles of sunflower seed shells literally left in the dust.
Every time I go to one of my sons' baseball games in Burbank, I cringe knowing that I have to sit in the bleachers, desperately searching for a clean place to put my rear and feet so that my body doesn’t touch the shells that fly out of people’s mouths.
The main culprit is people who selfishly think that spitting out food debris is okay, assuming city workers will clean up their mess. I observe many people, from senior citizens to young kids, spitting out their shells all over the place.  The benches and the areas underneath the bleachers are blanketed with them.

I was told by one city official that the habit of spitting out shells is an ingrained cultural trait, as old as the game of baseball.
However, what is wrong with posting signs asking people to use the park trash cans? Another city representative said that the problem with posting a sign is that there are too many signs already posted. However, in many areas there isn’t a single sign around.


The mess that greets visitors at city parks does not show off civic pride. Of the Burbank City Council, it appears that the only Councilman Gary Bric cares about this issue since the mayor and three other council members did not feel the issue warranted an acknowledgment to a citizen, let alone a journalist.

I contacted ConAgra to see what they thought about this issue. Company spokesperson Daniel Hare said that he thinks there is no public health issue when it comes to shells from sunflower seeds even though the shells have saliva on them. Does he think the company’s ad slogan encourages young people to spit? He didn’t think it was a problem. Would ConAgra consider a public service announcement on their packaging and advertisements such as “please do not litter”? No comment.

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