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The house where food goes to die

“Uh, this says pink grapefruit juice.” My friend said skeptically, holding out a container filled of brown liquid, a clump of growth in the center.

We were at my parents’ vacation home upstate, looking for something edible in the closets that would save us a trip out in the cold. My friend had no way of knowing that the house is used intermittently, and my parents are notoriously bad at remembering to throw anything away. It’s funny because whenever I’m here, I think I clear the old stuff out, only to find more the next time we come. This is the house where food comes to die.

“Yeah, sorry. It’s just old. Be careful what you eat here. The last time I was here I grabbed a bag of chips dated 2001.” I didn’t mention the four year-old cream cheese I once found that should have been donated to science.

I pulled a random box of cookies from the cabinet. “Let’s see. Not too bad… They expired in 2010.” I pulled down another box and grimaced. “2009.”

Box by box, we systematically emptied the place. It became a game to see if we could find anything that wasn’t expired. The closest was a jar of peanut butter dated August, 2013. The oldest was a refrigerated jar of jelly dated 2003.

During our rummaging, one of the kids sauntered in. “Oooh cookies!” He exclaimed, eyes wide as an Oreo.

My friend and I immediately grabbed the box. “No!” We both screamed like he was about to touch fire.

Oreo eyes now looked like they had been dunked and might start to drip.

“Sorry!” We both quickly apologized. “They’re bad. They could make you sick.”

He looked at us skeptically. In his eight years, he heard many questionable reasons from adults as to why he couldn’t have a cookie. This was just another to add to the list. He left empty-handed, but full of suspicion.

Just then my husband walked in holding a bag chips, his mouth chewing.

open at your own risk...

Open at your own risk…

“Hey,” I said slowly. “Where’d ya get those?”

“Up there.” He pointed to the cabinet.

Uh oh.

My friend and I exchanged a look.

“Um, they might be a little old.” I said, grabbing the nearly empty bag.

“Expires, March, 2013.” I read.

He shrugged, unimpressed. “Tasted fine.”

It was the exact same thing he said to me every night when I asked how dinner was. Apparently my superior culinary skills have dumbed down his expectations so that even expired food is agreeable to him. I didn’t know whether to be horrified or thrilled. I think both.

Later, we of course went out for dinner and purchased some fresh snacks for our stay.

I have no doubt that I will see them again for years to come.