Monday, October 27, 2008

A food mystery

Here's a weird one for you.
I found a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in my pantry the other day. I don't remember buying it, but what the hell. I don't have particular memories of purchasing any of the stuff in my pantry. Easy and delicious, I decided to whip it up for dinner.
I boiled the macaroni for 12 minutes. No problem.
I snipped open the foil packet of cheese. Problem.
What oozed out was pulpy, orange and disturbingly solid in texture. It looked like something you might scoop out of a pumpkin. It just sat there in a blob on top of the boiling hot macaroni, not even attempting to melt. It didn't really smell bad but it sure looked awful and I decided right away not to eat it. I checked the box and sure enough, there was an expiration date on it: June 3, 2003.
I know what you're thinking; "that's no mystery, that's just gross (and I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced that you didn't eat it)". You're right (but I swear I didn't). There's nothing mysterious about a food item being rendered inedible by the passage of half a decade, although it's at least curious that there are enough natural ingredients in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese to warrant an expiration date. I would have guessed the only thing that could outperform it as bomb shelter food might be a potted meat product from the fine folks at the Prairie Belt company. No, the mystery arises from the fact that I've been in this apartment for less than three years. That means it actually expired two years before I moved here. Not knowing what the shelf life was originally, there's no way to determine that I didn't buy it during the Clinton administration. And yet I obviously made a point of packing it and bringing it with me for some reason. Did it have sentimental value? Did I think I wouldn't be able to get macaroni & cheese in my new home, five miles away? Am I just the world's dumbest human? Hmmm....

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