Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Sell By

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I’m pretty sure my neglect of concern for food “sell by” dates on packaging borders on unhealthy. Last night I learned a lesson the hard way. In the four weeks that Cyndie has been in Florida with her parents, I have successfully avoided buying any new food. Admittedly, as time passed, the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in my diet has dwindled, lately replaced by delicacies discovered in the freezer.

There are only a few clementines left in the fruit drawer in the fridge. It’s getting down to slim pickings.

With Cyndie due to fly home today, I’m claiming victory in the quest for survival on my own during her absence.

Really, yesterday’s brush with death was the only calamity worth mentioning throughout the ordeal of sheltering at home alone, and it was one of the most innocuous things you’d probably ever worry about.

With cereals and crackers, I’ve encountered plenty of stale product in my lifetime. When chips go limp during the humid season, I sneer at the people who don’t seal a bag properly. I’ve been known to continue to snack on tortilla chips noticing each bite offers a telltale hint they are on the verge of not worth it.

Desperate cravings will stoop to embarrassing levels when there are no unopened packages in reserve.

Over the previous weekend, I used up the last opened package of saltine crackers with some chicken chili soup I found in the freezer, but I didn’t use up the soup. Last night, I heated up the rest of the soup and rearranged things in the cracker cupboard to find an unopened 4-pack of Zesta saltine crackers nestled in the very back corner behind everything else.


Saltine crackers with soup harkens back to many very fond early childhood memories of comfort food for me. It’s an affection that has never disappeared. I excitedly opened one of the four tall columns of crackers and before even sitting down, spooned some good stuff from the soup on a cracker for a quick appetizer bite before finishing to prepare the rest of my meal.

The cracker wasn’t stale. It was downright rancid! It was awful. I should have smelled it coming. I certainly did afterward. They smelled like that disgusting bite tasted.

I quickly took a taste of the soup to confirm it was just the cracker that was bad, and to wash my tastebuds of the nastiness they had just experienced. The soup was still good.

I went back to the box and looked for a date.

Oops. “Sell by May 2018.”

Lesson learned.

By the way, Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips make for a great combination with chicken chili soup if you don’t have any saltines available.



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