steak sauce bottles found at library

Avon Lake Public Library/Facebook

No one can crack the mystery of these empty A1 Steak Sauce bottles

The steaks are high, but the culprit hasn't been identified.


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 15, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 8:39 pm CDT

Staffers at the Avon Lake Public Library in Ohio have been puzzled all year by a parade of mysterious bric-a-brac: empty, clean A1 Steak Sauce bottles, popping up throughout the building seemingly at random. “All over the place! Fic, Non-fiction, newspapers, magazines…,” the library wrote on its Facebook page. There have been about 30 bottles found thus far.

After months of playing detective, Avon Lake’s librarians, pages, and security guards still haven’t found any answers about who’s leaving the bottles and why. It’s not for lack of trying, either. If you have a hunch about how to solve the case, chances are they’ve already thought of it. Although most have been found in the nonfiction stacks,  there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to when or where the bottles appear.

“We mapped the first 12 to see if we could find a pattern, but we couldn’t find a discernible pattern,” Dan Cotton, the library’s page supervisor, told the Chronicle-Telegram, which called the situation “a real whodunit.”

Mystery of the A1 bottles!! Since January we have been finding empty, clean, A1 Steak Sauce bottles (just a hint of the…

Posted by Avon Lake Public Library on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

They even pursed a hunch that the bottles were part of a geocaching game. The Chronicle-Telegram looked into the theory, but it ultimately went nowhere:

There is a geocache on the library grounds, but it contained only a list of people who had found it, a small seashell and a felt spider when The Chronicle-Telegram tracked it down Thursday.

Out of ideas, the library is now turning to the local community and the internet for help. A Facebook post about the mystery went up about a week ago, and the newspaper story followed three days later. Still, no one has come forward with a lead or confessed to being the bottle-hider.

The story has gone mildly viral around the U.S. in the past week, appearing on the Huffington Post, Atlas Obscura, and local Fox affiliates.

Whatever the steak-sauce prankster’s original, uh … stake … in this mystery may have been, the result has mainly been some A1 bad puns.

Now some commenters on the library’s Facebook page are insisting that the steaks are high, and that all suspects must be grilled. One person even suggested “a ‘STEAK’ out and try to catch this guy!!”

Sure, why not? Nothing else has worked so far.

Share this article
*First Published: Mar 15, 2017, 4:15 pm CDT