EDITOR'S NOTE: This editorial originally appeared in the Nov. 16, 2007, edition of The West Virginia Record. Also, both cases mentioned in the following editorial eventually were settled out-of-court and dismissed.
America's most gravy-crazy holiday looms on the near-term horizon, so the warning couldn't have come at a better time.
Gravy, whether the object of your appetite for breakfast, lunch or dinner, is hot.
It's actually supposed to be. In fact, like coffee, when it comes to gravy heat is something of a must. Coldness defeats the purpose – the warming, satisfying mission – of the famous sauce itself.
Alas, it will pay to remain vigilant this Thanksgiving, when tens of thousands if not millions of West Virginians will wield the ladle to douse their bird and mashed potatoes. That's lest an overzealous gravy-lover get careless and hurt themselves.
Or someone else, as Clarence Naugle of Great Cacapon learned in September 2005 while dining at a Martinsburg Bob Evans. The offender was actually white gravy, a distant gravy kin of the brown stuff we use on Turkey Day. But gravy is gravy like danger is danger. Let that guard down, and some guy in a red apron dumps a dollop on your wrist.
Naugle isn't crying over spilled gravy. But he'd prefer $5,000 in damages, including punitive ones, for his troubles. That means he believes Bob Evans was "willful and wanton" in its handling of the gravy boat; all those involved, accordingly, must be punished for their actions.
Didn't realize the precarious, nefarious side of gravy? Well, you heard it here first this fall. And second.
Also first reported by The West Virginia Record, Bethel Owen Bias of Putnam County similarly suffered at the hands of the stuff in September. It happened after he heated up a biscuit in the gas station microwave at a Nitro Speedway.
It cooked for one full minute, reportedly. Then Mr. Bias took a bite, and the gravy inside burnt his lip and tongue. Guided by his lawyer, Mr. Bias filed suit, seeking "damages for annoyance, inconvenience and aggravation, pain and suffering, and missed work."
The gravy-filled-biscuit-maker was to blame, according to the attorney, for failing to warn Mr. Bias that a cooling time should be observed before eating the biscuit.
That's the thing with gravy. It tastes so good. But if someone isn't there to warn the diner to be careful, it just might burn their tongue.
So holiday hosts, consider yourselves exhorted. Hang a big yellow sign, make an announcement or slap a warning label on that serving spoon.
But don't be the one to (negligently) cause another West Virginia gravy-related accident this Thursday. We'd hate to read about you in the newspaper.