Bottled History

My Mother-In-Law invited us for dinner last week.

Now my MIL is notorious for having things past their use-by date in her kitchen but I thought she excelled herself this time. There were three bottles of salad dressing on the table. I picked up the first one, and noticed that it had a use-by date of 19 August 2000, and I had a bit of a “Wow!” moment as I stared at it. Mmm, fiveplus year old salad dressing… I picked up the second bottle, and saw “1997” staring me in the face. Yikes! She had this salad dressing in her cupboard when Mr Cazzle and I first started dating, and it was past it’s useby date then! I picked up the third bottle, and lo and behold! the price tag on it was from a supermarket chain that doesn’t exist any more (never a good sign). The date was smudged and hard to read but was either 1995 or 1996. Mmmm, ten years past use-by! She simply said “Oh, that one is my favourite, and I haven’t died yet”.

Oh, and she didn’t throw them away. No deaths apparently means that they’re still good. I’ve still got no explanation for why it’s taken over ten years to use up one bottle of her “favourite” salad dressing either.

I’m dreading Christmas dinner at her house. I think I’m going to BYO as much food as I can this year.

I use salad dressing about once a year, so I’m forever tossing and buying new. It’s the price I pay to avoid grossing people out.

Well, salad dressing is what, oil and vinegar? Both of which have notoriously long shelf lives. Vinegar, after all, is just wine that’s way past its sell-by date.

Now creamy salad dressings, I’d be a bit cautious on…

Yeah, ten year old thousand island just isn’t the same thing as ten year old vinaigrette.

I think the real question is how does anyone have a foodstuff for ten years without either using it up or throwing it away?

My dear departed grandparents were notorious for this kind of thing.

When we were kids we used to love the chocolate syrup my grandmother would give us for our ice cream.

We loved it because of its chewy lumps. After several years of eating this (unrefrigerated) stuff, and I noticed that the chewy lumps weren’t defined on the ingredients. So my father cut one open with a knife: it was blue and furry. Yup, they were mold spores.

This summer, my grandfather was laid to rest next to my grandmother.

Last weekend I went to his house for the first time since he died. On a shelf in the kitchen, next to a bottle of Tabasco sauce that had gone completely clear with time, I found a little bottle of “Cochineal substitute” with a few drops missing.

That it was a substitute for something that is almost never used these days, and has been called “red food dye” ever since I was a child, tipped me off.

Then I looked at the quantity: 1 fl oz. We’ve been using exclusively metric measures in the UK for something like 15 years.

Then I saw the price: 1-/4d. As in one shilling and fourpence. We began the change to decimal currency in 1968, during which time I believe things bore dual pricing.

So that little bottle had sat on that shelf for at least thirty-seven years, but probably longer. My grandmother probably bought it to ice a cake and never used it again.

For some reason this gives me a warm feeling. :slight_smile:

I found a case soda pop 2 years ago in my mom’s basement that she’d bought for me out of habit soon after I went off to college. The store and the brand no longer exist.

I’m 45 years old next week. :eek:

Well, it does say, “best before…”

jjimm, thank you for making me no longer care that I don’t have time for lunch today.

That is the old story. We don’t need the ‘best before’ date we need the ‘worst after’ date.

That’s what I want to know. :eek:
I eat salad all the time - I can go through a bottle of salad dressing in a month.

My mother still has old bottles of spices from stores that no longer exist. We moved from Iowa to Maryland in 1968, and she has spice bottles (some at least half full!) from stores in Iowa.
She has condiment jars (fancy mustards and olive oil) that are ancient.

My late MIL joked that an experienced cook was one who was on her second bottle of Tabasco sauce. Hell, I’m on my third bottle of hot sauce this year.

When my FIL moved out of his house, we found lots of kitchen products that had no UPCs on the package. That’s when we started writing dates on all our spices. He also had the original carton for every tool and gadget he owned. He had insecticides that were banned years earlier.

I’ve got a bottle of vinegar in the cupboard that I’m sure came into the house around the time it was built - 1971. My grandmother loved vinegar, and she died in 1973. My mum didn’t buy vinegar because of her ulcerative colitis, so … I have antique vinegar in the cupboard.

I use it for bee stings and to boil some in a pot to get flies out of the house.

When my husband and I bought our house from the estate of his father, we found some interesting things. One of them was a 6-pack of bottled Coca-Cola in a brown paper bag with “1985” written on the outside of the bag.


After my MIL died about seven years ago, my wife and I cleaned out her cupboards. She had some spices that had a zone number in the company address.

For youngsters, cities used to be divided into zones (in “Return to Sender,” Elvis sings “no such zone”). Thus the last line of an address would be something like “Chicago 6, Ill.” These were eliminated by the “Zone Improvement Plan,” aka “Zip Code” in 1963.

So the spices had to be about 30 years old. They probably didn’t go bad, but certainly had no flavor in them.

jjimm, that was a lovely anecdote.

Not exactly packaged goods, but…my mother has been known to heat up a mug of coffee in the microwave, poured from the pot that was brewed two days ago and left on the counter.

When Ivylad’s grandmother died, they found a bunch of old, unused, still wrapped Hickory Farms teas in her cabinet. Somehow I got them, along with all her knitting needles.

They’re still sitting in my pantry. I suppose I should pitch them. I’d like to know what jasmine tea tastes like, but Og knows how old those things are, and if any funny molds and such have started growing on the tea leaves.

No antique food anecdotes from me, but how about antique cleaning products? About a year ago, I was at a “mom and pop” sort of store and saw a bottle of Future floor finish. Normally, this stuff is water-clear, but this bottle was almost as yellow as a bottle of beer and didn’t have a UPC code. Looked very much like this, but yellowed. If that ad is any guide, this stuff was approaching 30 years old.

You really should pitch them.
Just think, if you don’t toss them, in 40 or 50 years when you die, your grandchildren will find them and post about them on some future version of the SD.
“Eewww, you’ll never believe these nasty old teabags my grandmother had in her pantry!” :eek: :smiley:
(BTW, Safeway sells jasmine tea, if it’s that important to you. I’ll gladly send you a box, if there’s no Safeways near you. :slight_smile: Please don’t drink old tea.)


…which was the year New Coke was introduced and before they switched from sugar to corn syrup.