Created By: evil_cucumber on April 30, 2013 Last Edited By: evil_cucumber on May 6, 2013
Troped

Best Before Twenty Years Ago

Characters consume food or drinks with a best before date decades in the past.

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Do We Have This?

A comedy trope, in which a character buys, sells, or consumes food products that expired a comically long time ago, years, decades, or even centuries in the past. For the horrible consequences that usually follow, see The Food Poisoning Incident.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In one episode of Lupin III, Lupin steals a two century old bottle of rare French wine that was laid down by Napoleon, and was to be given as a gift to the President of the United States, swapping it out with a cheap bottle of store bought wine. After a successful heist, Lupin watches the president drinking the cheap wine and calling it "remarkable" on TV. He then laughs to himself and tries a glass of the real wine... only to find that it hadn't been aged properly and turned to vinegar.
  • Naruto: In an early episode/chapter, Naruto finds himself running for the toilet constantly throughout the entire episode, usually leading to comical hijinks. At the end of the episode, his teacher discovers that the milk he drank that morning had expired a long time ago.

Comics
  • In a Garfield strip, Jon claims that he looked danger right in the face and laughed. Garfield then lets the readers know that Jon drank milk that was past the expiration date.

Film
  • Down Periscope
    Pascal: Goddammit, Buckman, this tin's been here since Korea!
    Buckman: What's the matter, sir? It still tastes like creamed corn...
    Pascal: Except, it's DEVILED HAM!

Literature

Live Action TV
  • In one episode of Seinfeld, Kramer eats an ancient hot dog from the concession stand of a really old movie theater, to which the cashier responds "Are you out of your mind? That hot dog's been here since the silent era, you'd have to be insane to eat it." Predictably, Kramer becomes rather ill after tasting it.
    • Another Seinfeld example: After developing a craving for eating cake in the afternoon, Elaine consumes a piece of leftover wedding cake ... from the wedding of King Edward VIII ... that's worth $29,000 ... and over 60 years old.
    Peterman: Elaine, I have a question for you. Is the item still with you?
    Elaine: Umm, as far as I know.
    Peterman: Do you know what happens to a butter-based frosting after six decades in a poorly-ventilated English basement?
    Elaine: Uhh, I guess I hadn't...
    Peterman: Well, I have a feeling what you are about to go through is punishment enough.
  • On Newsradio Bill buys stale sandwiches from an old sandwich vending machine, on purpose. He likes them because they remind him of his childhood.
  • On Carter Country the group is accidentally locked in a bank vault overnight. The mayor pulls out his Safe Deposit Box, where he has stored a bottle of wine for many many years. After taking a sip he says, "[Vintage year]. A fine year for vinegar."
  • In the short-lived 1997 ABC comedy Teen Angel, Marty dies and becomes the title character after eating a six-month-old hamburger found under his friend Steve's bed.
  • A frequent topic of complaining on M*A*S*H is the food, some of which (it is claimed) came from WWII or even WWI.

Video Games
  • All Pre-War Food in Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas is this, since it's aged more than 200 years. No horrible consequences, however, because it was sterilized by intense radiation. Unless you count consuming trace amounts of radioactive isotopes to be horrible consequences.

Webcomics
  • Tim Buckley's Ctrl+Alt+Del comic from 4 February 2003 has Ethan consuming breakfast cereal that expired in May 1985. Lucas hypothesizes that consuming mold-culture cereal has made Ethan more delusional and sociopathic than usual.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • In Regular Show Mordecai and Rigby find cans of soda from 1984 in their attic.
  • In Undergrads Rocko drinks clam juice that expired in 1978. He then hallucinates The Great Gazoo.
  • In the episode of The Simpsons that was making fun of Mary Poppins we learn that Apu sells products that are over a decade old. "And the clerk who runs the store, can charge a little more for milk (for milk) and meat (and meat) from 1984!"
  • In a Garfield cartoon, Garfield stops Jon from cleaning out his refrigerator because (he claims) some of the food has historical value: the mustard was used to disinfect wounds during the American Civil War.
  • On Arthur Buster has a "collection" of interesting looking and/or delicious food, all of which is old and stinky. Periodically his mother throws it all out.
Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • April 30, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work names, alphabetized the example section and corrected some Significant Capitals.
  • April 30, 2013
    KingZeal
    I think the trope is too narrow. Why does it have to be decades in the past? Why not just expired food period, with years, decades or centuries being the trope Up To Eleven?

    If that's not acceptable, then ignore the following:

    Web Video:

    Possible Page Quote:

  • April 30, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    It doesn't have to be decades, that's just the most common form this trope takes.
  • April 30, 2013
    KingZeal
    Cool. Then my example above stands.
  • April 30, 2013
    StarSword
    Might want to clarify exactly what they're parodying, though. I don't quite remember the specifics.

    Literature:
    • Played with in X-Wing: Rogue Squadron. General Salm offers Wedge a drink from a liquor bottle of dubious provenance (it came from the Black Market and though it has a tax hologram, it dates to the Old Republic). Wedge agrees to chance it. Note that thanks to its alcohol content, liquor doesn't tend to go bad in the usual sense.
  • April 30, 2013
    KingZeal
    The parody is not clear? Where is the confusion?

  • April 30, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    The title could use work. Best Before Twenty Years Ago sounds like a YMMV trope, about movies and shows that were considered good back in their day, but not today. How about Expired Food Consumption?
  • April 30, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Nitpick: In the Simpsons example the lyric is 1984, not 1983.

    On Newsradio Bill buys stale sandwiches from an old sandwich vending machine, on purpose. He likes them because they remind him of his childhood.
  • April 30, 2013
    StarSword
    @King Zeal: I'm just saying, maybe you should add an example for Naruto to go with the Abridged Series example. Just my opinion, though.
  • April 30, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    I prefer Best Before Twenty Years Ago as the title, but thanks for the input. Also, the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron isn't an example because as you've said, liquor doesn't tend to go bad if aged correctly.
  • April 30, 2013
    KingZeal
    ^^ True.

    • Naruto: In an early episode/chapter, Naruto finds himself running for the toilet constantly throughout the entire episode, usually leading to comical hijinks. At the end of the episode, his teacher discovers that the milk he drank that morning had expired a long time ago.
  • April 30, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^^ I don't mean to be rude, but it's really not about what you prefer, it's about being clear. The current title gives no indication that this is about food. Bad titles could lead to Square Peg Round Trope, and eventually Trope Decay, then it'll be take to the TRS, then there will be a crowner for a rename. Or we could fix that problem here and now and give it a name that will guarantee that there will be no confusion.

    Expired Food Consumption is very clear and precise. You can figure out what it means without having to read the description.

    Best Before Twenty Years Ago works only if you read the description, because there's no mention of food or any indication of what the title was referring to. It could refer to anything being best several years ago, such as films. It's not clear, it's not precise, and it's not particularly witty either. It just doesn't work as a name.
  • April 30, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    Best Before Twenty Years Ago is perfectly clear, not to mention a much catchier, wittier, and less boring name. Expired Food Consumption is just to bland, clinical, and boring a name. Ideally a trope name should be both clear and witty in it's title. While Expired Food Consumption may well be a tiny bit clearer (if that), it's infinitely less witty. I just don't understand your objections. If it's indexed with other Food Tropes, then there's no chance of someone mistaking it for old films. And BTW, we already have a trope for movies that where better twenty years ago, it's called Seinfeld Is Unfunny
  • April 30, 2013
    robinjohnson
    • In So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, Arthur returns to his home after years in space, and eats "the three least green furry things" in the fridge for breakfast.
    • In a Garfield cartoon, Garfield stops Jon from cleaning out his refrigerator because (he claims) some of the food has historical value: the mustard was used to disinfect wounds during the American Civil War.

    I think Best Before Twenty Years Ago is a bit of a mouthful. Maybe Best Before Decade as a play on "best before date"?
  • April 30, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    Actually, it might not matter. I think we have this: The Food Poisoning Incident.
  • April 30, 2013
    MonaNaito
    I think Best Before Twenty Years Ago is pretty clear, more so than Best Before Decade. Expired Food Consumption doesn't suggest that it's a comedy trope--it's funny because the food is WAY out of date. If wordiness is a concern, what about Expired Twenty Years Ago?
  • April 30, 2013
    StarSword
    Maybe Best By Twenty Years Ago?

    @Wacky Meets Practical: No, that's just food poisoning. This is more a reason for The Food Poisoning Incident to occur.
  • April 30, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    At the moment Best Before Twenty Years Ago and Best Before Decade are my two favorites, and I'd accept either of them being the final trope name. Also changed the header a bit to show more clearly how this is distinct from The Food Poisoning Incident.
  • April 30, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    I still object to the name. Best By Twenty Years Ago works better, because "Best By" at least makes it sound like it could only apply to food, as opposed to "Best Before". But I still believe it lacks clarity. Perhaps Ridiculously Expired Food or Ancient Food Consumption or Long Past The Expiration Date.
  • April 30, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    @Wacky Meets Practical: how do you feel about Best Before Decade? As of right now, it's the only other name on my short list.
  • April 30, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    It has the same problems as the current name. It wasn't the wordiness or the length of time I had an issue with. It was the clarity, whether or not the name can get it's meaning across without having to read the description or check to see what index it is on.
  • April 30, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    @Wacky Meets Practical: well, I guess there's just no pleasing you.
  • April 30, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    Let's not make this personal. I just want to make sure that this trope gets launched without risk of being misused later. Because if a trope name isn't absolutely clear, somebody somewhere is going to misuse it. It's happened before.
  • April 30, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    Except you're the only one who seems to think it isn't clear. Just saying.
  • April 30, 2013
    MonaNaito
    I agree that Best Before Decade is confusing--in my opinion, it's actually the most confusing of all the potential titles suggested thus far.

    Expired Decades Ago? Best By Last Decade?
  • April 30, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^^ You're right. Consensus is going your way, and there's nothing I can do about that. But I also know that tropes have been launched in the past with names everyone thought was a good name, but still suffered serious misuse.

    Just look at Missed Moment Of Awesome, now named Offscreen Moment Of Awesome. It was originally about awesome scenes described in a show, but happening offscreen so the audience never gets to see it. The name sounded good, it described the trope perfectly, but then people started seeing the name and started using it without reading the description. Before long there was massive misuse, people using it to mean awesome scenes that could've happened but didn't, or awesome scenes that almost happened, but were negated. It caused a lot of confusion, and the trope had to be renamed. Even though everyone who launched it thought the name was perfect.

    I can't make anyone change the name. But I see a potential for the name to be misunderstood, and it is in my opinion that this could lead to massive problems. And it will be a lot easier to change the name now than to take it to the Trope Repair Shop months or even years later.
  • April 30, 2013
    MetaFour
    Overlaps a bit with Indestructible Edible.

    Film:
    • Down Periscope
      Pascal: Goddammit, Buckman, this tin's been here since Korea!
      Buckman: What's the matter, sir? It still tastes like creamed corn...
      Pascal: Except, it's DEVILED HAM!
  • April 30, 2013
    randomsurfer
    I'm with WMP re the title.

    Live Action TV:
  • May 1, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Webcomics
    • Tim Buckley's Ctrl+Alt+Del comic from 4 February 2003 has Ethan consuming breakfast cereal that expired in May 1985. Lucas hypothesizes that consuming mold-culture cereal has made Ethan more delusional and sociopathic than usual.
  • May 1, 2013
    arbiter099
    I remember an episode of Mail Call where R Lee Ermey opens old rations, but I don't remember what wars they were from or if they were edible.
  • May 1, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    I'm still confused as to why we need a set number of years in the title. Just Been Expired For Years or Excessively Expired Food seems adequate to me.
  • May 1, 2013
    CaveCat
    • In a Garfield strip, Jon claims that he looked danger right in the face and laughed. Garfield then lets the readers know that Jon drank milk that was past the expiration date.
  • May 1, 2013
    DunDun
  • May 1, 2013
    StarSword
  • May 1, 2013
    aurora369
    All Pre-War Food in Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas is this, since it's aged more than 200 years. No horrible consequences, however, because it was sterilized by intense radiation. Unless you count consuming trace amounts of radioactive isotopes to be horrible consequences.
  • May 1, 2013
    acrobox
    I think Best By Twenty Years Ago is the best title suggested thus far. "By" is better than "before" for making sure its about food and easier to write out, but I'm pretty sure most people will understand that it's about food if you only use it in a food related context.

    Give the users the benefit of the doubt. Part of the fun is clicking on a witty trope and then reading what it is exactly and, usually, it matching your expectations.

    If anyone sees this not being used for food just call misuse and delete the example. It's a pretty clear divide as to what is "expired food" and what is "not food at all." No audience reaction or shoehorning can really change that.
  • May 1, 2013
    DunDun
    ^I still prefer Excessively Expired Food, but... it looks like "sell by date" comes with the most Google results (use quotation marks else it'll come up with everything using "best"/"sell" and "date"). Also, "Best by 20 Years ago" sounds like someone in their prime or something else unrelated to food. Sell By Twenty Years Ago / Sell By Years Ago / Obscene Sell By Date / Sell By Forever Ago / Sell By Last Millenium ?
  • May 1, 2013
    Lawman592
    • Another Seinfeld example: After developing a craving for eating cake in the afternoon, Elaine consumes a piece of leftover wedding cake ... from the wedding of King Edward VIII ... that's worth $29,000 ... and over 60 years old.
      Peterman: Elaine, I have a question for you. Is the item still with you?
      Elaine: Umm, as far as I know.
      Peterman: Do you know what happens to a butter-based frosting after six decades in a poorly-ventilated English basement?
      Elaine: Uhh, I guess I hadn't...
      Peterman: Well, I have a feeling what you are about to go through is punishment enough.
  • May 1, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    Is there some way we could set up a poll?
  • May 1, 2013
    DunDun
    I think we should just count what names got what votes. I think the description is more important at this point than the name (this draft only has one hat). To clarify, I don't think this is specifically a comedy trope, and while I cannot remember any actual examples of this, I can imagine something where this is played very seriously in which someone nearly died after eating something obscenely spoiled.
  • ^^ There's something called a "crowner" that allows for collecting name suggestions and opening it to a community vote, but I don't know the specifics.

    Live Action TV
    • In the short-lived 1997 ABC comedy Teen Angel, Marty dies and becomes the title character after eating a six-month-old hamburger found under his friend Steve's bed.
  • May 1, 2013
    StarSword
  • May 1, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • On Arthur Buster has a "collection" of interesting looking and/or delicious food, all of which is old and stinky. Periodically his mother throws it all out.
    • A frequent topic of complaining on MASH is the food, some of which (it is claimed) came from WWII or even WWI.
  • May 2, 2013
    Stratadrake
    As much as I know "best by" / "best before" are established labelling conventions for expiration dates (sometimes with subtle differences in meaning), I keep thinking fan reaction every time I see a title starting with it. I'd prefer something along the lines of Egregiously Expired Date or something.
  • May 6, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    Launched as Best Before Decade and indexed under food tropes.
  • May 6, 2013
    Larkmarn
    That is a terrible name.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ctr98uylguur6n8v3amwurps&trope=DiscardedYKTTW