Even the long loaf of dwarf bread that he carried into battle, and which could shatter a troll skull, was by his side. Dwarf scholars had, with delicacy and care and the blunting of fifteen saw blades, removed a tiny slice of it. Miraculously, it had turned out still to be as inedible now as the day it was baked.
Some foods last a really
long time. They'll survive weeks in the wilderness, months under your bed, or even The End of the World as We Know It
. And after all that, they're still edible... well, as much as they ever were, anyway. Which is usually "not very"
and other preservative-laden snack foods are the ones which most commonly get this treatment, but it's sometimes applied to canned foods as well.
This trope is extremely common in video games, especially in many RPGs where food can be collected.
Compare Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat
, It Came from the Fridge
, and Way Past the Expiration Date
. Usually Even The Rats Wont Touch
food like this.
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- WALL•E feeds his pet cockroach a Twinkie that's hundreds of years old. Of course, it's not unlikely that a cockroach just wouldn't care.
- When Jim meets the other survivors in 28 Days Later, they give him packets of sweets, and when he has a sugar crash, she says that right now, she can only give him more sweets, as they've lasted longer than other foods.
- And in the supermarket, all fruit has gone moldy... except for a single batch of apples, which Dave says are irradiated.
- Down Periscope plays this as a joke. When the cook opens a can that expired in 1966, he eats some and can't see what the problem is as it still tastes like creamed corn... except, it's deviled ham.
- Zombieland averts one of the most common targets: Tallahassee is devoted to his hunt for a Twinkie because, as he points out to Columbus, they do have expiration dates.
- In Die Hard, John finds a Twinkie that he says is years old, and asks what these things are made of.
- In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Carrigan is turned into Blackout. When he tries to eat, his Touch of Death causes every piece of food he picks up to become completely molded and/or rotted by the time he gets it to his mouth, except for a Twinkie that is unaffected.
- What will be the four things to survive a nuclear holocaust? Cockroaches, Twinkies, Canada, and Chuck Norris.
- Alternate answer: it was cockroaches, twinkies, Cher, and Mick Jagger.
- In a similar vein: When the end comes, there will be only three things left — twinkies, cockroaches, and fruitcake. Then there will be only cockroaches and fruitcake. Then... Fruitcake.
- Of course, everybody seems to have forgot... It's Twinkies, cockroaches, and all of Nintendo's products.
- It got bad when the company that made Twinkies filed for bankruptcy after a labor strike in 2012. Considering it was happening just as the end of the Mayan Calendar was scheduled, a lot of "Well Played, Mayans" apocalypse jokes were made.
- A common Finnish joke states that Dried Oat Porridge would withstand dynamite.
- Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM often refers to Imperial standard (corpse starch) ration bars as equally unpalatable and indestructible. The bars he abandoned in a life pod during the first invasion of Perlia may still be good during the second... eighty years later.
- The bars can survive several forms of Exterminatus, though anyone being around to eat them after is questionable.
- In The City of Ember, despite having been underground for 241 years, the city still had some canned food, including fruit cocktail and other canned fruit, that had been stocked there in the beginning.
- Dwarf bread in Discworld is, technically speaking, edible... but it's more commonly used as a blunt instrument. The prospect of actually having to eat dwarf bread is apparently so dreadful, it keeps people going in hopes they can find something else to eat, like roots and berries. Or their own feet. It's also mentioned that "bread-breaking" is a sign of great trust between clans and individuals, often done to seal alliances or big business deals, and that the ceremonial hammers used for the purpose are exquisitely crafted and highly prized family heirlooms.
- Common dwarf joke: to make a meal of Dwarf bread, soak it in a bucket for a month. Then eat the bucket.
- This trope also shows up in Unseen Academicals with the "emergency pasta" that Professor Bengo Macarona brought with him from his homeland. It's supposed to keep for years and be just as edible as the day it was made... which turns out to be "not very edible", but the wizards have been cut off from their usual supply of snacks because it's the night before The Big Game, and they're a bit desperate.
- In Stephenie Meyer's The Host, the protagonist scavenges Twinkies from an abandoned house at one point.
- The Lord of the Rings: Lembas bread. As long as it's in the original leaf wrapping, it can stay fresh for a long time, and even if you unwrap it, it seems to last quite a while. (Sam kept an emergency ration stashed away somewhere for several months to no ill effects.) Cram or waybread, made by humans, is a more realistically tasteless long-lasting ration. Lembas, being elven, is still delicious months later. Then again, it is made by elves. All products of elven craftsmanship are at least somewhat magical and are by default ten times better than the equivalent human product. It's how Middle-Earth elves roll.
- Played for horror in The Mummy Or Ramses The Damned, where the title character tried to use his immortality elixir on plants and livestock to create a famine-proof supply of food. This resulted in cereals and livestock that killed the consumer as they couldn't be digested, and cows that couldn't be slaughtered.
- John Hemry's Paul Sinclair novel A Just Determination has a scene in which a New Year's celebration aboard a U.S. Navy spaceship includes firing a fruitcake into the depths of space "as a warning to all the universe of the awful culinary weapons available to the human race." It's also stated that billions of years in the future, the fruitcake will be just as edible and tasty as it is at that moment.
- A Red Dwarf tie-in book contains mention of the fact that Kryten's pastry can bring down GELF ships when fired at them.
- Vattas War: Apparently something of a Vatta family tradition.
- Kylara's aunt sends her some utterly impervious fruitcakes at the beginning of the series. Ky bemoans their inedibility and stores them away, forgetting about them until after the first novel's climax. Finally cutting one open, she finds it full of diamonds — the fruitcakes are so dense that they block security scans, making them perfect for smuggling, and so unpalatable no-one will cut one up unless the situation is truly dire.
- Kylara's father and uncle reminisce about "Uncle Evar's homemade sausage", which was "hard as rock" and at one point used to bludgeon a pirate boarding party member to death.
- In the first novel of the Vorkosigan Saga, Aral claims that his Barrayaran emergency military rations can go for years without spoiling... and probably have already.
- One of Robert Sheckley's stories had alien astronauts sustain themselves on some super-nutrient nut... that, going on a human technology, takes a hydraulic press to crack.
- Exaggerated with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's Everlasting Gobstoppers, which never grow any smaller no matter how long one sucks on them. Willy Wonka's developed them for "children with very little pocket money". Notably becomes a major plot point in the 1971 film adaptation.
Live Action TV
- Are You Being Served?: The store's canteen is still serving the same tinned pilchards (sardines) that Young Mr Grace had made for World War II.
- There was a joke about this on Law & Order: SVU, where Munch tries to get Fin to eat the contents of some long-dead kid's lunchbox.
- From LOST:
Hurley: So, dude? What do you think is inside of that hatch thing?
Locke: What do you think is inside it?
Stacks of TV dinners from the 50's
, or something. And TVs with cable, some cell phones, clean socks, soap, Twinkies — you know, for dessert, after the TV dinners. Twinkies keep for, like, 8000 years, man.
- Alton cleared up the prejudice towards fruitcake (and provided another form of an above joke) in one episode of Good Eats.
- Dog's milk, the backup emergency milk aboard the Red Dwarf — it tastes just the same three million years later. Though according to Holly, the main reason why it lasts longer than any other kind of milk is because "no bugger'll drink it."
- The books go further into this — all the food onboard is "irradiated and vacuum-sealed to last an eternity". The Cat race gained an evolutionary level and ended a famine when they learned how to operate a tin-opener.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: Mr. Gulliver from the Cycling Tour episode develops these. He made a cheese sandwich that can resist 4000 psi, and a tomato that predicts when it's going to be in an accident and jumps to safety.
- The second verse of the Irish Christmas song "Ms Fogarty's Christmas Cake" reveals that nobody could cut the eponymous fruitcake until two of the guests at the party brought in a hatchet and a saw. For reference, this song was first released in 1883.
- A Prairie Home Companion/How To Talk Minnesotan (the latter is based on segments from the former) has Slo-Decay Snack Cakes. They stay fresh forever.
- In Space Quest 4 there is the Monolith Burger fast food chain. The Permabuns used in the Monoliths are 299 years old. Whether the burgers are actually edible is never mentioned.
- They are technically edible - Roger did eat one in ''Space Quest III', though it wasn't very good.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3, there are three foods that will never go rotten (other food makes Snake prone to randomly throwing up at the worst possible time if it goes rotten): CalorieMates (tm), which are delicious, Instant Noodles, which are delicious and a delicacy, having not really made it out of Japan in 1964, and Russian Army Rations, which are absolutely disgusting, though if you feed him enough of them, he'll develop a taste for them.
- Fallout 3: the canned goods and other manufactured sweets have survived complete nuclear armageddon and are still edible — though some cause radiation poisoning.
- By the time of 3, that would be over 200 years.
- Lampshaded in Fallout: New Vegas. When a cook offers to make the Courier some Deathclaw Omelet, the Courier can say that s/he would be very happy to eat something that was not packaged 200 years ago. Thing is, you really don't need to in New Vegas, given the abundance of far superior fresh, wild growing edible plants. Courier should have been glad to eat something besides Banana Yukka and Prickly Pear.
- World of Warcraft has cooking recipes including Egg Nog, Spice Bread, Hot Lion Chops, Hot Wolf Ribs, Hot Apple Cider and Hot Buttered Trout and purchasable item Ice Cold Milk. The Egg Nog never gets funky, nobody has ever eaten "Stale, Moldy Spice Bread," the milk never turns into "Lukewarm, Curdled Milk," and the other recipes never turn into, e.g. "Room-temperature Wolf Ribs." Not to mention all the other cooked meals that you would expect to go off after a short time or just be totally disgusting if not freshly cooked.
- This was mocked in a webcomic which claimed that improperly stored fish had recently caused a rash of food poisoning among various guilds.
- Graccu's Mince Meat Fruitcake lampoons the common joke about fruitcakes being nigh-indestructible. "Preserved with Graccu's special spices! It'll be a very long time before these turn bad..."
- The browser game Improbable Island provides players with Ration Packs, which are "designed to withstand being thrown out of a plane, bounced down a mountain, encased in snow and ice, left out in the sun and/or buried in a swamp for up to three years." They contain all the nutrients you need to survive, but aren't very pleasant to eat.
- In Cataclysm, you can loot military rations from military surplus stores. As any jarhead or private will tell you, they're not very good - eating them temporarily lowers your morale.
- One Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic had a pie last for eons.
- One character in Nodwick drank "five hundred years old coffee". It's amazing stuff. It's implied he actually used that coffee to melt the walls.
- Parodied - and taken a step further - in Schlock Mercenary, where MREs from hundreds of years ago have somehow aged into delicacies. They apparently follow a parabolic path, first declining in quality and then (around the 50 year mark) rising again until they end up surpassing their original levels.
- The residents of Endtown mostly live on canned beans scavenged from the surface, since D-bombs destroyed most of the plant life. In one comic they come across a grocery store where low levels of Amesworth radiation disintegrated the beans in their cans, but not the Twinkies.
- The Earthworm Jim episode "Trout!" had a nut log that was a running joke turned Chekhov's Gun, as the 'foodstuff' in question was hard as, and heavy as, a rock.
Peter Puppy: I don't think it was meant to be eaten, Jim. I think it was meant to anchor ships in a heavy storm.
- The Chekhov's Gun part comes into play when they fight Queen Slug-For-A-Butt, and the log becomes the perfect counter to her nigh-indestructible scepter. the 'nigh-' part coming into play as the log is thrown at her and parried with the scepter, only to shatter on contact. Yes, the scepter, not the nut log.
- On Family Guy, the family goes on a journey to find a Twinkie factory after a nuclear apocalypse, figuring that the Twinkies would be the only thing to survive.
- An episode of Futurama involves an auction for a tin of thousand-year-old anchovies. Although everyone else finds Fry's anchovy pizza utterly disgusting when they try it, Fry and Zoidberg don't seem to have any problems eating it, implying they are still at least fresh enough for an anchovy lover to eat. In fact, part of the auction guaranteed their freshness.
- From the Kim Possible episode "Sink or Swim":
Ron: ...Well, if we pry up the floorboard like so, we'll find my secret stash of snacks.
Kim: Tara, those are ancient!
Pop Pop Porters food-style
pork wafers have enough preservatives to last for decades!
Tara (tentatively tries one): It's definitely... food style...
- The Simpsons takes the Twinkie stereotype a step further when an enraged customer crushes one under his foot before storming out of the Kwik-E-Mart. It quickly pops back into shape after Apu picks it up.
Apu: Silly customer! You cannot hurt a Twinkie.
- Apparently, they can also ferment, as Homer kept one in the wall safe for ten years to see if it turned to liquor. The next scene has him drinking the filling through a straw, clearly drunk off his ass.
- in Fillmore!, Vallejo worries about cookie dough O'Farrell is eating, from the 1940's. After Ingrid reads off some ingredients, she comments it'll "outlast the Sphinx."
- DSV Alvin, the submersible that explored the Titanic, was once lost at sea with its hatch open. When it was retrieved ten months later, the cold and lack of oxygen had rendered some sandwiches left aboard soggy, but edible.
- Ship's biscuits or hardtack, a very durable cracker/biscuit, has a few samples in museums that are a century and a half old. Some say the 'hardtack made 140 years ago "tastes just as good" now as it did back then.' This is not an impressive claim; however, it may be as close to Defictionalization as dwarf bread will get.
- There was one incident which some people made some hardtack according to the old recipes and fired it from a cannon. It went over a hill and through the windshield of a parked car. The hardtack was undamaged (The people performing the experiment paid to replace the windshield).
- In Egyptian pyramids, honey has apparently been found which is still edible. This is because honey is both a natural source of hydrogen peroxide (an antiseptic), and is a supersaturated sugar solution, which acts as a desiccant. Bacteria can't live in it because osmosis sucks all the water out of them. Some microbial spores can survive in honey, however, even if they can't propagate (amongst them spores for bacteria that cause botulism, which is why you never feed honey to infants. And Now You Know).
- In 1908 the Arctic expedition of Baron Toll left a food cache in the permafrost of Novaya Zemlya island, consisting mostly of the canned foods that was in Russian Army standard issue rations. A couple of years ago another expedition opened that cache and tested some of the cans — both chemically... and directly. The permafrost had done its job so well (hey, it's -40C below there!) that the food remained perfectly edible for a full hundred years. Or at least as edible as it had ever been.
- Permafrost's done better than that. For centuries, natives of northern Siberia have been stumbling over frozen mammoth carcasses and eating them, with minimal ill effects, more than ten thousand years after the animals died. Even the undigested grass seeds in the mammoths' stomachs could still be consumed.
- Food exposed to sufficient levels of radiation will be sterilized and can be stored indefinitely at room temperature. Most commercial food irradiation facilities subject the food in question to short and extremely intense bursts of gamma radiation that are enough to kill or at least deactivate most single cell organisms, but as the cells in the food itself are generally already dead, it doesn't do much to them. And the duration of the pulses is insufficient to cause noticeable degradation in the proteins and such.
- Straight granulated white cane sugar only goes bad if it gets wet. Otherwise, just keep it stored away from insects and children.
- Similarly vinegar. This is basically because vinegar's an "already-rotten" product, the result of natural sugars in the original base substances being twice fermented, first into ethanol (which is already toxic to a lot of single-cell organisms) then into acetic acid (which is even harder on them). Keep the stuff bottled up and it'll last a very long time.
- Turbatrix aceti, the "vinegar eel", is a type of nematode that feeds off of the microbial culture that ferments sugars and cellulose and is thus often found in "mother of vinegar" (a jelly-like stage between cider and vinegar, with LOTS of active bacteria). If the resulting vinegar is not filtered, one can find ugly (but harmless) little critters swimming in it. They don't affect the vinegar, though.
- Rich fruitcake can last a century or more, being full of sugar and soaked in alcohol. If it's covered in royal icing, it'll last even longer, since the icing is pure sugar and forms an airtight seal with the plate.
- Certain dried goods last for a while if properly stored. 28-year-old oatmeal was considered edible (in an emergency).
- World War 2 American D Rations were bars of chocolate that were essentially bricks that tasted like cardboard. They were so hardy that they were used in a tactic to feed trapped pockets of your own soldiers, firing "D shells" from heavy artillery that deployed parachutes. Apparently they could survive even if the chute didn't deploy.
- Plumpy'nut is a type of peanut butter used to fight malnutrition in famine stricken countries by having an extremely high calorie value (a single pack contains 500 calories). They can be stored without refrigeration for up to two years, and requires no cooking or preparation.
- Salami is actually an exception to this trope - not in its indestructibility (properly processed chubs will remain edible for up to ten years) - but in its edibility; it's amazingly tasty.
- Of course, the above references the cured, fermented, air-dried (and rather expensive) product as opposed to the machine-dried stuff offered by the majority of delicatessens. That stuff will grow fur after a week or two even if refrigerated.
- The Cheeseburger Museum has burgers from McDonald's that are two decades old and look exactly the same as they day they were bought.
- A singular dairy example: buttermilk. It's got more in common with yogurt and sour cream than your regular moo-juice. The bacterial cultures present in the buttermilk are still barely active and create an acidic environment unwelcoming to other biological contaminants. However, the buttermilk itself, as a result of the good bacterial activity, will keep getting thicker and more intensely flavored. Only when it's too thick to pour does it need to be thrown out.
- Meal, Ready to Eat. Shelf life is nominally three and a half years at 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) so long as it is kept sealed. In long term storage, it is kept at -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit) and can last longer without affecting the quality (which in the earlier ones was certainly dubious, leading to nicknames like "Meal, Rarely Edible").note
- An extra feature in the DVD for Super Size Me has Morgan Spurlock keep various McDonald's burgers, and fries, in jars to see how long it takes for them to go bad, with a local independent burger joint providing a control. The indie burger and fries went bad within the first week. The McBurgers lasted a few weeks longer. The McFries went for ten weeks without looking any different, at which point the intern accidentally threw the fries away. One could infer that the fries could last even longer.
- Several of Noah "The Spoony One" Antwiler's old gaming stories mention a pizza joint called Peter Piper Pizza, which served some of the most godawful, greasy pizza known to man. One story in particular involves him finding a month-old Peter Piper's pizza in the bathroom of the gaming store that he worked at. Instead of rotting, growing mold, or decaying in any way, the pizza had become glazed over with a barrier of hardened grease, leaving it looking more or less normal save for a weird plastic-y sheen.
- For thousands of years, people in parts of Europe, particularly Ireland and to a lesser extent Scotland, buried large lumps of butter and other fats in peat bogs in order to preserve it. Hundreds of these masses of preserved fat have been recovered from bogs; the oldest known, from Ireland, is about 3,000 years old, and it was still being made in the Middle Ages. They still have the look and texture of butter or margarine, and sometimes still smell like dairy. Supposedly, it's still edible, and quite a few people have eaten small samples; it's said to taste like a hard, sour cheese.
- Archaeological evidence indicates Paleo-Indians used a similar technique with meat in North America during the Ice Age by storing it underwater in lakes and ponds. Experiments conducted with lamb, venison, and horse meat have shown the cuts would retain nutritive value for at least six months (although they might have wanted to trim the edges before serving it up).
- While liquor is famous for getting better with age, provided it is stored properly, the people who salvaged the Vasa took it to extremes. The Vasa was a galleon, which sank in Stockholm at the start of its maiden voyage in 1628. When it was salvaged in 1961, the excavation crew found a keg of vodka. The contents were not only perfectly palatable, they were served as a pre-dinner cocktail at the Vasa Museum inauguration dinner.
- Pemmican, a blend of powdered dried meat and saturated fat, was taken along by polar explorers and would last for years at room temperature.
- From the predecessor to the MRE: Col. Henry Moak opened and ate a 40 year-old canned pound cake he had been issued in Vietnam at his retirement ceremony.