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A down-and-out and very hungry man finds a "nut" on the street, practically breaks a tooth biting down on it, and accidentally swallows it. It isn't really a nut, but an alien matter transmitter, and his bite has triggered the mechanism to "send." Fortunately, the transmitter has a safeguard not to send living tissue, but as long as it is lodged in his stomach, any food that the man eats is transmitted to the aliens' planet. He bums some food and is even hungrier after eating it than he was before. He enters an eating contest and wins handily, complaining that he is starving.

Meanwhile, the aliens, a cheerful male and female couple who are exploring Earth, relocate their missing device after some anxious searching. Just in time, because their colleagues back on the home planet, perplexed by the repeated transmission of Earth food, have sent them a shipment of alien melons. Suddenly the poor man's belly is bulging and he is in terrible pain.

Well, it all turns out right in the end. The alien couple are content to leave the transmitter where it is as long as they can control it, and they not only give the poor man a job, but cure him of his ailments and educate him. By the time they are ready to leave Earth, removing the transmitter first, the man is in great shape physically and mentally.

This was a mildly humorous short story that I read in an English-language anthology. I don't recall when I read it, but the style was somewhat old-fashioned, which means it was most likely written during the 1940s to 1970s.

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    Aw man... this sounds very familiar. – FuzzyBoots Apr 5 at 18:49
  • Seconded. Very frustrating, I've read that, but cannot remember title nor author – Winchell Chung Apr 6 at 3:07
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    Strange how some of the stories I remember only scraps of have been identified within hours, while stories I remember well resist identification for days or weeks. Nearly everything is identified eventually, though. – Invisible Trihedron Apr 10 at 12:17
  • Reminds me of another story I read once, in which an alien disguised as a human walks into an "all you can eat" buffet restaurant. He has a teleporter hidden in his stomach, and he just keeps eating and eating. – Ben Crowell May 16 at 23:38
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"Shipping Clerk" by William Morrison. Short story originally published in the June 1952 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction.

A down-and-out and very hungry man finds a "nut" on the street, practically breaks a tooth biting down on it, and accidentally swallows it.

He picked up the nut, banged it futilely against the ground, and then looked around for a rock with which to crack it. None was in sight. Rather fearfully, he put it in his mouth and tried to crack it between his teeth. His teeth were in as poor condition as the rest of him, and the chances were that they would crack before the nut did.

The nut slipped and Ollie gurgled, threw his hands into the air and almost choked. Then he got it out of his windpipe and, a second later, breathed easily. The nut was in his stomach, still uncracked. And Ollie, it seemed to him, was hungrier than ever.

Meanwhile, the aliens, a cheerful male and female couple who are exploring Earth, relocate their missing device after some anxious searching.

Zolto put the paper down. "This is the one," he said to his wife. "There can be no doubt that this person has found it."

"I knew it was no longer in the alley," said Pojim.

their colleagues back on the home planet, [...] have sent them a shipment of alien melons. Suddenly the poor man's belly is bulging and he is in terrible pain.

It was swollen like a watermelon—or, rather, like a watermelon with great warts. Lumps stuck out all over it.

[...]

“They look like pineapples and grapefruit," replied the bewildered X-ray specialist. "Square-edged pineapples? Grapefruit with one end pointed?”

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