It's yours if you want it

Some Christmas presents come wrapped in pretty paper. Others can't be wrapped because they're too big. The gift that Tone's Spices Inc. has given the town of Ankeny, Iowa, falls into the latter category. But it's no less appreciated. Ankeny is a suburb of Des Moines, and Tone's – whose website advertises "Quality & Value Since 1873" – is one of its major employers. Fulfilling that pledge, however, sometimes means that it can't market all of its inventory, and such a moment arrived earlier this month. Nine tons of garlic salt had become outdated and would have to be thrown out. But then inspiration struck. Winter was imminent, and, with it, snow and ice. Why not, Tone's decided, donate the salt to the town, which has 400 miles of streets to maintain? The offer was accepted, and the gift was mixed with the rock salt that's usually used to keep the streets passable. According to public works chief Al Olson, garlic salt works just as well, and Tone's donation has saved the taxpayers about $1,400. Besides, he said, "That's nine tons that's not in the landfill, which we think is a good thing." Not so good, perhaps, is the strong odor that now rises from the town's streets. It's still in their clothes when they go home after work, some highway department employees complain. On the other hand, said one snowplow driver, "It makes you feel like ordering a steak and baked potato."

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