2010 WAS A GOOD YEAR FOR JELLO PUDDING.

I had no idea bringing up the notion of Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up was going to be such a firestorm a couple of weeks ago. How could I know? Who knew tidying would be such a hot button topic?

There are those of you who love Marie Kondo and her Zen militia type attitude towards getting your house in order and there are those of you who are quite annoyed by her. I’m still only halfway through the book so I haven’t formed a complete opinion on her or her methods, but I do think she’s got some stuff right. Like doing it all at once. Getting rid of all your STUFF in one fell swoop instead of little bits over the entire year.

Why? Because if you’re anything like me (and you probably are because we’re basically all the same person in different skin colours and hairstyles) then if you clear out one area of your house and make it tidy, what ends up happening is the overflow of other areas you haven’t tidied begin to infiltrate the tidy area. Because it’s so TIDY! So neat and organized and there’s so much space! So you just keep shifting stuff from room to room.

No room in the basement for the bread maker anymore? That’s O.K. you just tidied the bedroom. The bread maker will fit perfectly under your bed. As will your tax returns and car jack now that you think about it.

So that part of Kondo I like. Doing everything at once. Even though I also think that part is kind of insane. So I’m leaning towards both loving and shunning Kondo. Because I have a relatively tidy house so it’s not a HUGE job to go through everything but MAN, it would still take a month of full time going through stuff to do go through every article of clothing, shoes, knick knacks, kitchen gadgets and books. Who has an extra month laying around?  Actually six months.  Ms. Kondo says if you work really hard and FAST you might be able to make your way through her program and tidy your entire house in 6 months.  If you’re fast.

And yet, this is exactly what the people who took my Summer of Doing Stuff Challenge this summer did. They devoted not just one but THREE entire months to doing stuff. They finished huge projects in June, relaxed a bit and redid their backyards in July and this month … they’re tidying.

Which is turning out to be pretty hilarious.

Why? The kitchen cupboards.

The very first day of the course one of the members tackled cleaning out her pantry because that’s the homework I assigned for the day. Clean out your pantry and get rid of the weird stuff you thought you’d love to cook with but never did. Like the bottle of sauce you picked up at the Chinese market that’s so authentic the label is in Chinese which you can’t read. And therefore have NO idea what it actually is. And being a Chinese ingredient you’re too afraid to taste a bit on your finger because what if it’s saucy, pulverized fish guts?

At the end of her pantry cleaning this particular member posted a photo of a box of Jello.

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A box of Jello pudding that expired 6 years ago.

And then another reader posted a box of Curry Mix that expired 8 YEARS AGO.  Ditto for a jar of fig chutney.

 

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Imitation Coconut Extract that expired in 2008.  Apparently 2008 was a good year for expired food.

That one went over well with the group but THEN there was this from Kate …

Careful now, ladies- you’ve entered into my Thunderdome… I bring you unopened vanilla frosting, best by date: Apr. 6, 2006.

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Then there was the blackberry jam Sharron had been saving “for the right occasion” since 1992.

Over and over these photos and comments kept coming in of the hilariously expired foods.  I checked my own cupboards but I didn’t have anything funnier than 2015.  I think that’s based on the fact that I redid my kitchen a few years ago and it certainly isn’t a reflection of the comedic abilities of my food.

So now I’d like to propose a challenge to all of you.  The keeper of the most expired food wins.

Go now to your pantries, to your cupboards and shelves, and find the can that screams Hey, what the HELL?

Then come right back here and tell us what it is and when it expired. And guess what?

You can attach photos to your comments!  So take a picture of that 2001 bottle of no name ketchup and add it to your comment!

I. Cannot. Wait.

Have a good weekend! (and I pray my mother takes part in this)

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141 Comments

  1. Alana says:

    I, too, just redid the kitchen cupboards about two years ago, so nothing terribly dated lives there. But I wanted to grab first comment!

  2. Auntiepatch says:

    Seeing that Jell-0 was popular, I went there first. Sure enough, I have a box of Cranberry Jell-0 with the Best When Used By: Feb. 07, 2001! I had no idea!

  3. Mark says:

    I don’t know if unopened jam (real jam) can ever go bad because it has so much sugar in it.

    Please pass along to Sharron that the right occasion for blackberry jam is anytime on toast…. 🙂

  4. Kate says:

    A few years ago I’m sure I’d have won! But we moved 5 years ago to another state, and then again just 2 years ago. So no comically old food here! I will be back to read comments!

    About the Marie Kondo book, I guess I’m the only person in North America that hasn’t heard of her. But I looked up on YouTube and now all the tshirts are neatly folded! But that’s as far as I’m going. Sticking to the advice from another organizers book I recently read about the socks/underwear drawer-she said it’s a waste of time to fold those!

    • Bianca says:

      I agree!! I did my t-shirt drawer, and attempted to fold the underwear and socks for awhile, but found it to be a waste of time. I have a 3 year old, so getting the laundry done and put away is an accomplishment in itself.

  5. Paula says:

    I have a jar of spice from Knob Hill Farms.

  6. Donna says:

    I don’t have any hilarious expiration since right now but back in 2009 I moved to a rental in SC while waiting for our thieving builder in TX to finish our house. So when we finally moved in and I was unpacking stuff, I found 12 cans of tuna, all expired for several years. I had paid twice to move expired tuna. The bad thing is, I really hate canned tuna. Can not understand why I bought one can much less 12

  7. Chris says:

    No photo unfortunately, but helping to clean out a friend’s cupboard we found an EMPTY can of Baked Beans. It had exploded and the contents had entirely disappeared into another time zone.

  8. MaryJo says:

    The summer of 2015 my husband and I were staying with my sister in Minnesota and one day I decided to make a cake as a surprise for her when she got home from work. Fortunately, I thought to check the expiration date on the can of Calumet Baking Powder before I started the cake. I was blown away to see that it expired in 1998! She had acquired it when she cleaned out our mother’s kitchen cabinets after Mom passed away in 2004!
    You can imagine how much teasing mileage I got out of that little item!
    Unfortunately, I tossed the can and I can’t find the photo I took of it as proof.

  9. lisa says:

    This would have been a contest I could win, except for the kitchen remodel 5 years ago. Even then, my friends came over and vetoed many kitchen items, to great hilarity at my expense.

  10. Ardith says:

    Great topic and I am thoroughly enjoying all the stories. I don’t have one. At least I don’t think I have one. Wait. I’ll go check my pantry…

  11. Amanda says:

    I read Marie Kondo’s book a few weeks ago, so I’ve already thrown away my expired food! I found some pretty old cans that I think may have been moved 3 times!!! We have moved a lot in the past 3 years, but still…! The piece of advice I loved best from her book was the most simple: have a place for each and every item you own. So simple, but never occurred to me –and, I’m pretty organized and tidy!

    • Karen says:

      I still haven’t finished it Amanda, but I’m being much more consciences about putting stuff away immediately even if I really, really, really don’t want to, lol. Like after finishing fixing something or in the middle of it even, I’ll try to put away the tools I’m using or materials. My biggest problem is I’m always in the middle of building, creating, fixing or moving something. Always! So things can get to be a mess and stay a mess for a long time if I don’t stay on top of it. 🙂 ~ karen!

  12. Lisa says:

    Not at home at present…however I do have Vegemite that is at least 10 years out of date – it never ever goes off! I ignore the use-by dates on my honey and treacle – they don’t go off either.
    Lise….ps I prefer Promote, can’t stand Vegemite! pps: ditto re the baked beans – where do they go?

  13. Stephbo says:

    This won’t be a winner, but it’s the oldest I have after several moves. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Nov 2002. I’m pretty sure I “borrowed” it from my mom’s cabinet when I moved out of her house. In 1995. ?

  14. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    My son and I went through the cupboards recently..there was some pretty old things but nothing before 2000…it is funny what we hold on to sometimes..lol..

  15. Went straight to the pantry cupboard…
    Gazed in…
    First thing (3things) I picked up…
    They should be good for another 19 years right?
    Julia x

    • I might treat myself later and actually open the dill weed! The thing is, I have used a lot of dried dill recently, I guess I just keep buying new and ignoring this box!
      To be fair, it (they) was on a higher shelf.
      Now wondering what is in the back (unexplored since we moved in in 1995) of the under the stairs pantry… ?

    • m'liss says:

      What is ground “mixed spice”?

  16. Linda Q says:

    I might possibly win as I’ve been in this house 28 years, but I’m afraid to reach into the spice cupboard through the spiderwebs to prove it! (Yeah, I keep a few–that I use more often than never–on the back counter in case I get an attack of spicy feelings.)

    • Stephbo says:

      I used to live in a house that had a scary cupboard too. There were things in there when I lived in which were still there when I moved out 7 years later because I was too creeped out to reach into it.

  17. GC Lehman says:

    How about a zip lock bag full of cookies that my Grammy put in the freezer when she visited the summer before she passed away….in 1999. How about that? After we found them sometime around 2012 we couldn’t just throw them away. That was like lost gold!! I think we all snuck downstairs to steal one every once in a while until they were gone. I’m pretty sure they aren’t still there. Yeah, they were still good.

  18. Linda Q says:

    Oooo, to go along with someone’s previously entered Imitation Coconut extract I found Shilling Imitation Almond extract (still in the box) on my back counter. It evidently was produced in a time before dates (on products, anyway) as it reads only “5030A” on the bottle. Thank you, back counter, for providing something old enough to keep me from having to entertain the idea of opening the spice cupboard!

  19. The best part would be to open those food products and test them to see if they truly have expired. Really it’s just a guideline. I’ve got a pretty good hunch those ingredients listed are true foods anyway and mostly just preservatives so you’re probably still good to go on most items. Never know when you might need some vanilla frosting.

  20. Terri J. says:

    Crazy how I’m fascinated by all these comments…but of course there is some relief in there too that I’m not the only one with out-dated items. It almost feels like some kind of therapy!

  21. Renee says:

    Only expired in 2011, but here are 112 cans of mackerel that we found in my grandfather’s pantry after he passed away.

    Not pictured, the 2 pallets of canned green beans

    • Debbie from Illinois says:

      Oh my!

    • Jenifer says:

      And we have a winner! Just the sheer volume of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Wow! WOW! ~ karen

      • Audrey says:

        Holy Mackerel

        • Penny says:

          Blast and damn. Audrey beat me to it!!
          I’ve just been reminded of when my Dad’s mum died, about thirty years ago. We found about 5 dozen assorted tins from which every trace of label had been removed, possibly to redeem for some tatty ‘reward’ or other. We took the tins home and made every Saturday ‘Surprise supper night’ for a few weeks. Each person would choose and open a tin until we had enough assorted ingredients for a meal. Thank goodness we didn’t have mackerel and green beans every time!

          • Audrey says:

            I remember many years ago I was at a house warming party for a friend and some of us decided to take the labels of our hosts canned goods. Well she came in the kitchen while we were doing it and I got stuffed in the pantry for about twenty minutes. I took full advantage of my pantry time to take every label off of every can. I was very quiet as I worked away in the dark.

        • TucsonPatty says:

          Hahahaha!

        • Ann Brookens says:

          Penny, that’s so funny! And the most reasonable way to use up 5 dozen unlabeled cans.

    • Auntiepatch says:

      OMG! How funny….and sad, too……..

  22. Beckie says:

    I have 3 Durkee spices in my cupboard that I know were purchased no later than September of 1990. My Gram put them in my wishing well at my shower before I got married.

    I keep them, because they are sentimental. They sit in the back of the cabinet, safe from use. Gram is gone, but her spirit lives on in my kitchen, since she is the one who taught me to cook & bake.

    They don’t have expiration dates, this was long before that was common or a requirement. The bottles are glass.

    ps: I hope the photo doesn’t post huge, there isn’t a preview option

  23. Eileen says:

    My mom has a “memorial” jar of home-made powidl (it’s a type of plum butter, cooked down until it’s thick and almost black and indescribably delicious) that was in her mom’s freezer when she died…in 1983. I’m pretty sure it’ll be listed in my mom’s will….

  24. Mary W says:

    I learned my lesson 30 years ago about old cans. When I came home from work, my husband proudly showed me a plate of deviled eggs that he and the kids had made and offered me one of the few remaining. I started to take a bite then saw that the paprika was black and asked before I bit – did you use pepper instead of paprika. He said no and I looked at the can. Then I looked inside. It was jam packed full of wiggly beetles and the black stuff was their poop – the only thing small enough to come out the holes in the can. The kids started gagging and ran to the bathroom. My husband started brushing his teeth and got out the floss. I did not try one of the eggs! So I keep a black marker on the spice shelf and mark the date I OPEN the can with BIG numbers. Lesson learned!

  25. Alexandra says:

    Perhaps more frightening than the expiration date on that tub of frosting, is the visible list of terrible ingredients! Eek!

  26. Kate says:

    There is no expiration date (does an alcohol-based extract ever expire?) But I got this gem when I cleaned out my grandfather’s house. Guessing solely by the label and my own childhood memories, I’m guessing mid-eighties? Maybe early nineties? Who wants lmon bars?!?!

  27. Kate says:

    I give up. Picture in your mind a 30 year old bottle of Durkee imitation lemon extract, complete with funky brown gunk on the lid (origin unknown)

  28. Anna says:

    If you want to see some awesome and hilarious expired food items I suggest spending an afternoon sorting at your local food bank. I took a group of kids there one day and they thought it was hilarious when they found food that was older than they were…KD from 1983? Yep, someone donated that.

  29. Thera says:

    Already on the minimalist bandwagon, though I have not read Kondi’s book, so no old food here.
    I follow the January Cure every year and clean out the cupboards and I also found a system to eliminate spices you don’t use:
    Clear space on two shelves (I cleared two that were above/below each other) and put all your spices in the one space, if you use a spice move it to the other space and keep it there from then on. In 1, 3 or 6 months (your choice) any spices you never actually use will still be in the first space and you can toss them without fear 😀

  30. Connie says:

    After I retired, and before I got around to cleaning out my pantry, my adult son discovered a couple expired items… I have never heard the end of it. I don’t think he believes I check the “kill date” of every item when I cook! ?

    • nancy says:

      These kids are way too worried about expiration dates. I keep telling my daughter they found honey in the pyramids and it was still good. It’s a sell by date planted by people who want to sell more.

      Paprika is bad about wormieness. I keep it in the frig and still check before I use it.

      Google Translate is good for those strange to me bottles and clothing care labels.

      • Elaine says:

        Gee, I didn’t know this about paprika and “wormies”??!! Yuck! Am going right now to check my paprika. I hardly use it so a bottle lasts forever so I thought I’d buy in small amounts from a Bulk store but then I heard horror stories about critters having food fights at night when the staff closed shop so stayed with the bottled stuff. I never know what to do!

        • Nancy. says:

          I don’t think you have to be afraid of paprika. Just sprinkle some out before putting it any food to make sure it’s still what it’s supposed to be.
          Critters having food fights??? I love bulk stores and I never heard of that? However, I have no illusions of how clean those scoops are. I figure I’m challenging my immune system and keeping it strong.

      • Sandra says:

        I’ve never heard that about paprika. I do use it quite a bit, though – and, I put it in a container where I don’t just sprinkle it. I actually take a pinch of it with my hand. But, I guess I’ll have to ask my sister about this – she sprinkled what she called paprika on the potato salad she made for a family thing this past w/e. Her roommate was wondering why it was so dark, which I also noticed. Nooooo, can’t be.

  31. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I want to know just what the heck is imitation coconut extract made of? I thought imitation vanilla and lemon were the only fake stuff out there. ewwww . . .

    • Ann Brookens says:

      Jan, you really need to check the flavoring extracts in a big grocery store baking aisle! They have butter and chocolate and rum and maple and strawberry, etc. etc. etc. All artificial, of course!

  32. Melissa in NC says:

    I have nothing to contribute in the way of out dated food but, I am really enjoying these posts!
    Tidy up folks!

  33. meredith says:

    When we cleaned out my grandfathers house, we had to throw LOTS of very expired food. LIke 10 plus year old food that he was still maintaining was fine. But he did also have an insane amount of table salt……in the round cardboard containers. We did the clean out in 2002 and I brought all that salt home with me and have yet to ever purchase my own salt. I think I still might have a 5 year supply. Glad that salt doesn’t expire! Thanks Pappy!

    • Jennie Lee says:

      When I cleaned out Dad’s house, he had 7 boxes of salt and 13 packages of cotton swabs. And he didn’t use salt, for medical reasons. He had lighter fluid that cost 26 cents from a store that closed maybe 30 years ago. (It doesn’t go bad, though.) He had Vapo-rub from when it came in a beautiful cobalt blue GLASS jar. I kept the jar.

  34. Laurie says:

    Hi Karen, no pictures, just mental images.

    Picture my Mom cleaning out my Nana’s pantry after she died. She brought home a few things that she thought we might use. She was transferring a half used bottle of Bee Hive corn syrup (remember the yellow bottle shaped like a bee hive?) into our half used bottle. The transfer stopped mid-stream as something was lodged in the spout. She pushed harder, and out popped a little grey field mouse, perfectly preserved in the syrup!! We all screamed, then laughed until we cried.

    Second mental image. Me at 12 years old looking for something to make for lunch. I came across a bag of Lipton’s onion soup mix and thought, why not? I opened the bag and dumped it in a pot, only to find it was a big squirming mass of bugs!!!

  35. Marilyn meagher says:

    I’m out, just finished a kitchen Reno..but before ,oh yeah!!

  36. About 12 cans of mostly vegetables…some taco mix, two boxes of dried cranberries..nothing earlier than 2014. But thank you! Clears up some space and my husband can no longer say..what do you mean we have no food? What are all those cans up there?! haha

  37. AmyL says:

    Does a bottle of Angostura bitters from 1958 count?

    When my grandparents moved to a retirement condo, I snagged the contents of their liquor cabinet. That was in 1994; I still have a whole 10 years to go before I catch up to the 36 years they held on to it.

  38. Zoe says:

    This article reminds me of a home-economics class assignment ages ago. We had to make dinner with a specifically assigned menu and for a minimum of four people. The menu included hamburger soup and jello for dessert- pretty basic even for a middle-schooler.
    At the end of dinner all of my guests had to review the dinner. Not an easy task considering the uninspired menu. I remember my mom’s friend trying to complement me on the variety of color in the meal and how the red jello added a nice brightness. At which point I realized that the jello was NOT supposed to be red. It was grape. We pulled the box out of garbage to find out that the jello had expired 10 years earlier.
    Moral of the story: Jello doesn’t go bad. It just might change color.

  39. Holly says:

    OK, here’s my contribution. Granola, expired in April 2015. Not that long ago, but I LOVE granola, so why did I never eat this?! Grosser is the Celery Salt (exp. Nov 2006) and the Corn Meal (a grain for crap’s sake — ewww!) (exp. July 2006). Thank god for this challenge.

  40. Jean says:

    My favorite story…finding a plastic bag in the cupboard containing bits of string. The bag was labeled “String too short to save”.

    • Jennie Lee says:

      Perfect! Dad had an electronic gizmo with a neatly labeled sticker that said “Broken. Doesn’t work.” I laughed so hard…

    • Penny says:

      Jean, you must’ve been there when we cleared out dad’s shed! He had over a hundred boxes of watch and clock parts, nails, screws, washers and staples and one box labelled, in his beautiful italic handwriting, “Pieces of string too short for usefulness”. I’m not sure, but I think that’s somehow worse (more illogical, maybe?) than your plastic bag. Perhaps because a box seems more permanent and the label wasn’t as concise?
      I can’t act all superior, though. My pantry may be clear of expired foods, I have an entire 9’x7′ room full of stuff that might come in useful ONE DAY.
      Do I need professional help?

  41. Jody says:

    The woman with the best before vanilla frosting I would so still use it. Maybe not on a cake but certainly on a big spoon direct from container to mouth. It says “best before date” not “don’t-eat-this-after-date-because-you-may-vomit”

  42. Liz Douglas says:

    I thought those dates were just suggestions…….

  43. Dale says:

    How about home canned fruit or veggies? I am sure I have something in my basement that may be over 10 years old. I’ll go look. If I’m not out by noon tomorrow, send in a hazmat team.

  44. Beth says:

    Not sure it counts, since it isn’t food. But I have a bottle of Syrup of Ipecac that expired 11/89!

  45. Beth says:

    Oops. Trying again with a picture.

  46. judy says:

    This will be the dumbest comment posted but I realized I keep the durn stuff because I waste so much money on groceries-mostly to feed 220 lbs of dogs and 3 feral cats – that I feel as though I am throwing away the $ that the stuff costs,but as long as I keep it in a way I still have the $$$$$$?

    This is Crazy and from now on out it goes but I will cry at its passing and maybe a short Eulogy?

    • Stephbo says:

      I sometimes struggle with that too. Although for me, the struggle is “It might be good still, so I should eat it. But it might be bad, so I should throw it out. But if it’s good, then I will have wasted it.” Seriously. I need help sometimes.

  47. Sondra says:

    I’m also half way through Hondo’s book. I think she’s obsessive-compulsive to the degree she might need serious counseling. None of us can fixate full time on hidden away stuff unless we are drowning in the clutter and then maybe a big shovel and a dumpster would fix the problem!

    The bigger the house, the longer you live in it and life’s other pressing needs leaves you open to accumulate lots of STUFF! My husband hoards and I throw away. Been married 40 years and moved every five years until 20 years ago. What a perfect opportunity for me to rid myself of clutter hidden away but now I’m faced with an on going, never ending collection that I keep throwing out just to find it hidden away in another part of the house! I figure if I can’t see it then I’m not going to worry about it. If he dies then in comes the dumpster. If I die, then who cares what happens to the stuff. My motto: If I see it and it’s no longer needed it goes to the trash but I’m not going to spend six months of my life pawing through every closet, drawer and bookcase looking for things to throw away. Live life, love it and keep moving forward but don’t become obsessed by the detritus you don’t even know is there!

  48. Renee says:

    Enjoying this so much. My Mom had some doozies when we moved her in with us. A few years back, I was babysitting overnight for my sister-in-law. For lunch I decided to have a salad, and grabbed the italian dressing out of her fridge. After a bite or two, it really tasted odd. Looked at that half full bottle – expired 3 years before. Along with the thousand island she had in there, and the yellow mustard that was so old, it was dark BROWN. Ew. I told her about it, as it did not belong to me & I didn’t want to be the one to toss it, but I am pretty sure I saw it in there the next time I visited. I keep alot of junk, but I am pretty good about foodstuffs, or I use them fairly soon after the date.

  49. Cat says:

    My mum gave me some purple food colouring for my son’s birthday cake a couple of years ago (it was a rainbow cake). My dad was a pharmacist back in the day and back then you often got your food flavourings and colourings from the chemist and not a supermarket. Anyway the bottle was I. His handwriting and dated 1978…! Colouring still worked and didn’t seem to contain any additives that sent kids at the party crazy…! As far as I know she still has it, and some orange flavouring from about 1975…

    If I can will get a picture when see her tomorrow.

  50. Kim says:

    I found a box of 20 year old Rice-a-Roni in my mother’s pantry that she had moved twice – once across country.

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