“Haunted House of Whole Foods,” by Miriam Jayaratna and Ali Solomon

Oct 25th, 2023 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose, Visuals

On a dark and stormy Halloween night in 2016, a family from Brooklyn wandered down the gluten-free aisle in the Upper East Side Whole Foods.  Legend has it that the hunt for an edible frozen pizza crust made of cauliflower drove them mad, and they were never seen or heard from again.

But if you pay a visit to the store on October 31st, when the moon is Whole and the stars roam free-range across the sky, some say their ghosts return to snatch the souls of innocent shoppers and add them to their compost pile.

For protection, grab a bottle of lemon cayenne kombucha and dab it on your chakras. The drink’s odor, an acrid graveyard of apple cider vinegar with notes of elephant dung, will keep the evil spirits at bay.

Carefully make your way through the maze of non-GMO corn and other organic produce.  Beware: one wrong turn will take you to the forsaken realm of Whole Body.  Should you find yourself there, do NOT engage with the sales associate: she is a nefarious witch who will try to convince you that homeopathic elixirs are the cure for your IBS.

The last person to see the family alive is a team member who works at the deli counter. Order half a pound of the chili-lime soy nuggets and she’ll tell you her story.

Head over to the salad bar to investigate. Just be careful when they weigh your findings at checkout. (Ever wondered why three tofu cubes and a pile of lettuce comes out to $40? The ghosts sometimes try to smuggle themselves out of the store by stowing away in the to-go containers.)

Uh-oh: you’re almost out of time before the post-work rush hour hits. Try your luck at getting matched with the powerful sorceress, Cashier #13, who uses ancient magic to prevent the raspberries from staining your reusable tote bag.  Without her protection, the phantasms may try to follow you out of the store with their unfinished business…

At checkout, answer her riddle and she’ll allow you to escape…. for now.


Miriam Jayaratna, the writer, is a clinical psychologist and writer based in NYC.  Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Reductress, The Hard Times, and Identity Theory. She writes comedy because Freud said humor is the best coping mechanism, once you’ve blown through all your cocaine.

Ali Solomon, the artist, could be a ghost or a vampire for all you know. A cool vampire, though.

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