I wrote a haiku:
Eating two hot dogs.
All my ketchup’s expired.
Sure hope I don’t die.
I’ve been thinking a lot about expiration dates lately. Pretty much since a few hours ago when I found a forgotten bottle of Dr. Pepper in the back of the pantry. I can’t remember when I bought it. It was covered in a layer of dust. Maybe flour. Possibly mold. And the expiration date was smudged so much you couldn’t read it. The last digit was definitely a 6. So I at least know it either expired this year or ten years ago.
Spoiler alert: I drank it and now I might die.
Even if it expires this year, it could have expired a month ago or six months ago.
And I don’t really get what expiration dates mean. I understand the ones that say “Best if eaten by…” because that is a clear statement:
“This cheese is going to taste awesome today, but less awesome tomorrow.”
Thank you! I appreciate knowing that the awesomeness level of my cheese is about to decline. That is useful information.
But the term “expiration” implies finality. It’s like some sort of cheese psychic made the prediction: “This cheese will be dead on June 31st, 2016.” But then you eat it on July 1st and you think, “This cheese doesn’t taste dead at all.”
Then you feel betrayed, and wonder what other lies your groceries have told you. Your world gets turned upside-down. You may even start to question if cheese psychics are actually real.
Let me assure you, this is very real:
(On a side note, this picture made this conversation happen in my household:
Me: Mom, can I borrow some hoop earrings?
My Mother: Your ears aren’t pieced. What do you need earrings for?
Me: For cheese.
My Mother: (Taking only a moment’s pause) Oh. Okay. They’re upstairs. Help yourself.
That is a woman who has resigned herself to her daughter being a blogger.)
(Now back to our regularly scheduled post)
On the other hand, you have people who have taken expiration-date-denial to an extreme and eat food that expired possibly before they were born. Their cheese doesn’t even look like cheese anymore, but they eat it for the sake of not giving into the “expiration date man”.
“Oh, those dates don’t mean anything,” they say as they hand you yogurt and you want to argue that the expiration dates might have meant something back when they printed it on that particular carton of yogurt from the 1800’s.
I think we need a better system.
As it turns out, I happened to have invented a better system.
It’s a 3 tiered system:
Best if eaten by: October 31st, 2016
Seriously, though, if you care about your health, stop eating it by: November 31st, 2016
You will expire if you eat it after: December 31st, 2016
It’s very clear and leaves no questions about what the expiration date really means. Packages will have to be larger to fit so many dates, but that just means more servings per package that you can now enjoy at your leisure because you know exactly how long you can keep eating it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see if I have any other forgotten bottles of Dr. Pepper.