The Truth About Sqirl's Moldy Jam Scandal

Sqirl, the LA eatery previously known for its flagrant violation of English language spelling conventions (why is there no "u"??), now has another scandal on its plate. Minnesota-based food blogger Joe Rosenthal heard rumors of possible food safety violations at Sqirl, and he took it upon himself to contact a number of the restaurant's employees, all of whom had some hair-raising tales to tell about what went on behind the scenes at this hipster hotspot. According to what Sqirl employees told Joe (via Vice), the restaurant not only had ongoing rodent and roach problems but also operated a second kitchen that was deliberately hidden from health inspectors.

The biggest shocker of all, thanks to photos that quickly made the rounds on social media, was the fact that the restaurant didn't store its jams properly, which led to many of them becoming severely mold-infested. When you consider that Sqirl's menu lists a price of $5 for a slice of toast with jam – well, a mold-free option would have been nice, just saying. Oh, and what's even more disturbing? Jam is one of those products that Sqirl doesn't just carry in its restaurants, but markets in stores as well.

Sqirl's rebuttal to the allegations

Sqirl owner Jessica Koslow issued a statement rebutting all of the accusations as best she could. She outright denied the restaurant's ever having a rat problem, and said that the secondary kitchen was used "primarily for baking and food prep" and just somehow "fell off the radar of the Health Department."

Regarding the moldy jam, this is where she went into some serious spin control. The restaurant had previously tweeted an explanation that their jam is made with less than half the sugar of typical supermarket jam for "a more natural, fruit-forward product," but that its lack of sugar meant that it had a tendency to develop surface mold similar to that found on some types of cheese and charcuterie. In both the tweet and the statement, Koslow was adamant that the retail jam was prepared separately using a method that practically guaranteed it would be impossible for mold to form, although there were allegations by employees that some of the moldy jam used in the restaurant had its surface mold scraped off and was packed in jars for resale.

The internet's reaction to the Sqirl shocker

Perhaps not surprisingly, hardly anyone is really rushing to Sqirl's defense here. It seems that Koslow's explanations regarding the restaurant's jam weren't as reassuring as she'd hoped, with comments on her Twitter post including "Please, please tell me I'm greatly misunderstanding what you wrote about your hot pack and processed jars," and "'we promise we will start putting lids on the jam in our secret mold fridge' is not the winning apology you think it is." One top comment brought up yet another sore point with Sqirl, the fact that this restaurant has been viewed as one of the main culprits in the unwanted gentrification of the once-diverse Virgil Village neighborhood: "you've stayed silent for 6+ years about your role in the displacement of POC and POC-owned businesses from Virgil Village. But sure, this is a much better time to talk about your sh*tty overpriced jam."

For anyone outside the Los Angeles area, though, one tweet pretty much summed up the whole tempest in a jam pot: "i hate how heavily twitter weighs content from LA, why do i now hate a restaurant called Sqirl for selling moldy jam? i am in nashville, tn, we make our own jam here, who are you people." Amen to that, says the entire internet. But still, be sure to toss out your moldy jam, everyone. That stuff can make you sick.