Michigan man says son, 6, ordered $1K in food from Grubhub
CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man says he was left with a $1,000 bill after his 6-year-old son ordered a virtual smorgasbord of food from several restaurants last weekend, leading to a string of unexpected deliveries — and maybe a starring role in an ad campaign.
Keith Stonehouse said the food piled up quickly at his Detroit-area home Saturday night after he let his son, Mason, use his cellphone to play a game before bed. He said the youngster instead used his father’s Grubhub account to order food from one restaurant after another.
The boy’s mother, Kristin Stonehouse, told The Associated Press on Thursday that Grubhub has reached out to the family and offered them a $1,000 gift card. The company also is considering using the family in an online promotional campaign, she said. Grubhub officials did not immediately respond to a message from the AP seeking comment.
Keith Stonehouse said he was alone with his son while his wife was at the movies when Mason ordered jumbo shrimp, salads, shawarma and chicken pita sandwiches, chili cheese fries and other foods that one Grubhub driver after another delivered to their Chesterfield Township home.
“This was like something out of a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit,” Keith Stonehouse told MLive.com.
He added: “I don’t really find it funny yet, but I can laugh with people a little bit. It’s a lot of money and it kind of came out of nowhere.”
Keith Stonehouse said his son ordered food from so many different places that Chase Bank sent him a fraud alert declining a $439 order from Happy’s Pizza. But Mason’s $183 order of jumbo shrimp from the same restaurant went through and arrived at the family’s house.
Stonehouse said it took the arrival of a few orders of food for him to realize what was going on. By that time, there was nothing he could do to stop the orders from coming.
Kristin Stonehouse told the AP that Mason is extremely intelligent and has been reading since he was 2 1/2 years old.
“He’s very smart,” she said. “He’s not your average 6-year-old.”
She said her husband had just used the Grubhub app on his phone to order dinner before she left and probably just left the app open. She said her son took the phone, hid in the basement and proceeded to order his feast.
She said she and her husband had a talk with Mason on Sunday morning and told him what he did was akin to stealing.
“I don’t think he grasped that concept at first,” she said.
To drive the point home, she and her husband opened up Mason’s piggy bank and pocketed the $115 he had gotten for his birthday in November, telling him the money would go to replenish their accounts. That didn’t seem to faze the boy.
“Then he found a penny on the floor and said he could start all over again,” she said.
Keith Stonehouse said most of the food went into the family’s refrigerators. He said he also invited some neighbors over to eat some of it.
He said he’s heard of things like this happening to other parents, but not at the level he experienced last weekend. He recommends making sure important apps are not readily available for children to click on when they’re using a parent’s phone. He said he’s changing his password.
“I knew this could happen, but you just don’t think your kid is going to do something like this. He’s definitely smart enough, I just didn’t expect it,” Keith Stonehouse said.
Italian novelist: Leonardo’s da Vinci’s mother was a slave
This picture made available on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, by historian Carlo Vecce shows what Vecce says is the original act of liberation of the slave Caterina, who he believes is the mother of Leonardo da Vinci and notarized by Leonardo’s father Piero da Vinci. Vecce says he found it in the State Archives in Florence as described in his latest novel ‘Caterina’s smile’. (Carlo Vecce via AP)
MILAN (AP) — An Italian scholar and novelist has provided fresh fodder for an old debate over the identity of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother, proffering a recently unearthed document as evidence that she arrived on the Italian peninsula as a slave from the Caucasus region of Central Asia.
Carlo Vecce, an Italian literature professor at the University of Naples L’Orientale, has revealed his theory in a new novel, “Il Sorriso di Caterina,” or “Caterina’s Smile.” He based his claim on a document discovered in the State Archives in Florence that granted freedom to a girl named Caterina.
Leonardo’s father notarized the record six months after the birth of the Renaissance genius, who went on to paint masterpieces including the “Mona Lisa.”
Vecce said he originally was intent on proving that Leonardo’s mother was not an enslaved person from the East, one long-held theory. “But when the evidence goes in the other direction, one must pay attention,’’ he said.
He said he chose to put his research in a novel and not in a scholarly text because he felt an urgency to share his theory with a wider public. “I could joke that no one reads a book with footnotes and a bibliography,’’ the author added.
Martin Kemp, an Oxford University art history professor emeritus, co-wrote a 2017 book that identified Leonardo’s mother as Caterina di Meo Lippi, a 15-year-old orphan. He said he continued to favor the theory that the girl who gave birth to the masterpiece painter and inventor was a “rural mother.”
“There have been a number of claims that Leonardo’s mother was a slave,’’ Kemp said in a statement provided to The Associated Press. “This fits the need to find something exceptional and exotic in Leonardo’s background, and a link to slavery fits with current obsessions.”
The art historian suggested the document may not be conclusive.
It was Leonardo’s grandfather who said his mother’s name was Caterina, according to Kemp. Caterina was a common name given to slaves when they were forced to convert to Christianity, and the husband of the woman who freed the girl in Vecce’s document traded two slaves with that name in one year, Kemp said.
Kemp both praised Vecce’s work as a scholar and expressed surprise that the Italian professor published his findings as a fictionalized account.
As bourbon booms, thirst for rare brands breeds skullduggery
A collection of bottles of Pappy Van Winkle bourbons are seen on the top shelf right, among other fine whiskies at the “Far Bar,” located in the historic Far East Building in the heart of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 4, 2023. Buttery, smooth, oaky. These are characteristics of the best bourbons, and a growing cult of aficionados is willing to pay an astonishing amount of money for these increasingly scarce premium spirits — and even bend or break laws. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
By Andrew Selsky And Damian Dovarganes in Salem
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Buttery, smooth, oaky. These are characteristics of the best bourbons, and a growing cult of aficionados is willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get their hands on scarce American spirits — and even bend or break laws.
The first challenge is figuring out which liquor stores have these premium bottles on their shelves – and that’s where inside knowledge can give bourbon hunters a leg up, and potentially get them into legal trouble.
In Oregon, several high-ranking officials at the state’s liquor regulating agency are under criminal investigation after an internal probe found they used their influence to obtain scarce bourbons.
That included the holy grail for bourbon fanatics: Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old, which can sell for tens of thousands of dollars on resale markets. Top-end bourbons have found themselves at the center of criminal investigations in at least three other states, from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Kentucky.
Premium spirits were always expensive and sought-after, but interest is surging. Distillers have upped production to try to meet increased demand, but before the whiskey reaches stores and bars, it must age for years and even decades.
Each state gets a limited amount of Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old, produced by Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery of Frankfort, Kentucky.
In 2022, Oregon received just 33 bottles.
“The average person cannot get good bottles,” said Cody Walding, a bourbon fan from Houston. He believes he’s years away from finding Buffalo Trace Distillery’s five-bottle Antique Collection, despite making connections with liquor store managers.
“Like, to be able to get Pappy Van Winkle or Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, unless you’re basically best friends with a store manager, I don’t even think it’s possible to get those,” he said. In a Los Angeles bar that Walding visited last week, one shot of Pappy 23-year cost $200.
Six officials from the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission — including then-Executive Director Steve Marks — have acknowledged they had Pappy or another hard-to-get bourbon, Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel, routed to liquor stores for their own purchase. All six denied they resold the bourbons.
Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery’s suggested retail price of Pappy 23-year is $299.99. Because of its extreme scarcity, it can go for a lot more on the resale market.
In December, a single bottle sold at Sotheby’s for a record $52,500. Two other bottles were auctioned for $47,500 apiece. All three were originally released in 2008.
The Oregon agency’s internal investigation determined the employees violated a statute that says public officials cannot use confidential information for personal gain. Gov. Tina Kotek sought Marks’ resignation in February, and he quit. The other five are on paid temporary leave. An investigation by the state Department of Justice’s Criminal Division is ongoing.
Marks did not immediately respond to messages Wednesday seeking comment. In his replies to the commission investigator, Marks denied he had violated ethics laws and state policy. However, he acknowledged that he had received preferential treatment “to some extent” in obtaining the whiskey as a commission employee.
The practice was allegedly going on for many years and involved not only state employees but also members of the Oregon Legislature, the investigator was told.
Five bottles of Oregon’s allotment of Pappy 23-year-old went to “chance to purchase,” a lottery started in 2018. The odds of winning Pappy 23-year were 1 in 4,150.
Utah, Virginia and Pennsylvania are among other states with lotteries for coveted liquor. Two men in Pennsylvania each bought a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle after winning the liquor lottery in different years. They tried to sell their bottles on Craigslist, but undercover officers posing as buyers nailed them for selling liquor without a license.
In Virginia, an employee of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority downloaded confidential information about which state-run liquor shops would be receiving rare bourbons. An accomplice then sold the intel to Facebook groups of bourbon fans. The now-former employee pleaded guilty to felony computer trespass in September, received a suspended prison sentence and a fine, and was banned from all Virginia liquor stores.
In Kentucky, an employee of Buffalo Trace Distillery was arrested in 2015 for stealing bourbon, including Pappy, over several years and selling it. The caper became part of “Heist,” a Netflix miniseries, in 2021.
Whiskey is a booming industry, especially the high-end products.
Supplier sales for American whiskey — which includes bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye — rose 10.5% last year, reaching $5.1 billion, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Revenue for makers of super-premium American whiskey grew 141% over the past five years.
Bourbon, in particular, has a rich American heritage. It’s been around since before Kentucky became a state in 1792 and is where the vast majority of bourbon comes from. In 1964, Congress declared bourbon “a distinctive product of the United States,” barring whiskey produced in other countries from being labeled as bourbon. Today, some of the best-known Kentucky bourbon distilleries are foreign-owned.
In the 1960s and ’70s, bourbon had a reputation as a cheap drink. Then came a change: Targeting Japan, Kentucky distillers developed single-barrel and small batch versions in the 1980s and 1990s, which later blossomed in the United States, said Fred Minnick, who has written books on bourbon and judges world whiskey competitions.
“The distillers were starting to wake up — there was an interest in the whiskey, because the culture itself was beginning to change,” Minnick said. “We were going from a steak-and-potatoes nation to foie gras and wagyu.”
Minnick lovingly describes what it’s like to sip a great bourbon, which obtains sweetness by absorbing natural wood sugars from charred oak barrels.
“It begins at the front of your tongue, walks itself back, will drip a little bit down your jawline, a little bit like butter, very velvety,” Minnick said. “Caramel is one of the quintessential notes, followed by a little touch of vanilla.”
Some of the world’s top beverage companies that own major brands include Kirin (which owns Four Roses), Beam Suntory (Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Basil Hayden), Diageo (Bulleit, I.W. Harper), Sazerac (Buffalo Trace, Van Winkle, Blanton’s) and Campari Group (Wild Turkey).
They boosted bourbon production with multimillion-dollar expansions and renovations, but there’s still not enough of the best stuff to go around.
Despite Pappy 23-year-old’s red-hot popularity, Minnick is not a big fan.
“Right or wrong, the Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old is absolutely the most sought-after modern whiskey, year in, year out,” Minnick said. “I personally think that the 23-year is hit-and-miss. It’s typically over-oaked for me.”
Dovarganes reported from Los Angeles
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