Minnesota Musing: The Expiration Date Feared by Many

Updated on February 25, 2018

The Expiration Date Code

What is an expiration date code? It's a date stamped on most, correction, all of our food. It's the date we are expected to have it either consumed or throw it away, destined to poison our compost pile.

Reasonable and Unreasonable Dates

There are expiration dates on everything. Some seem unreasonable, but others seem like a challenge. For example: milk seems like a challenge. Many times, we ignore the milk in our refrigerator because we only buy it when they come. Actually, we sent it home with them, because we know they will drink it, and we will not. Blame it on me being somewhat lactose intolerant and my my husband only drinking certain kinds. The kids like the Whole D stuff and my hubby drinks the 1 percent. It's like water with a teaspoon of milk in it.
I am a cheese person, myself. I don't know why there needs to be expiration dates on my cheese, since most of mine is better aged anyways. Actually, we buy 10 year old cheese for dad for Christmas, because it's his favorite. Talk about something that is figuratively expired already. Limburger must have expired the day after they made it, and they still encourage people to eat it. Have you tried it? It's like the dried, crispy crud you find on your milk carton. Yummy!

Grandma's Cookie Jar

Shall we discuss expiration dates on cookies? Like someone I work with pointed out, way back when, people would put cookies out. People, you know, like Grandma's. Those cookies weren't made that day. They sat in a cookie jar, until someone got there and ate them. With travel the way it was, you'd didn't get there very often. There was no telling how old those cookies were.


But, if they were hard cookies, you dipped them in your milk or coffee. No one judged Grandma for it. I'm still here to tell you about it, so obviously it didn't hurt me. Of course, now that I'm thinking about it, Grandma is dead. Mom is dead. Dad is dead. My aunts and uncles are dead. One of my sisters is dead. Yikes. Maybe those cookies weren't good after all.

Some People Buy It

Some People Discuss Them

Expired Cereal?

Way Back When in 1982

As I recall, I worked in an accounting temp position in a food supply company, selling turkeys, and there was a book on the shelf about expiration dates. Since I was sitting there for the entire day, I managed to read quite a bit of the book.

One fact that I found rather interesting, in 1982, was the the expiration date was an estimate of when the eggs and larvae of the fifteen percent of bug particles that was allowed in the product, would hatch.

Since then, in 2002, I had a bag of some sort of flour in my cabinet, and one day, someone decided to try using it, but there were a lot of little brown worms and worm casings mixed in with the flour. Apparently, I managed to exceed the hatch date.

We did not sift the flour and use it. We tossed it in the compost heap.

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