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Way Past the Expiration Date

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. It may have come from the fridge. For the horrible consequences that usually follow, see The Food Poisoning Incident. Contrast Indestructible Edible.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In one Lupin III (Red Jacket) episode, 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. The gang then laugh to themselves, and try a glass of the real wine... but 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.
  • In a Knights of the Dinner Table story, the group is eating Hackmaster-themed snack packs that B.A. picked up to thematically represent their characters eating field rations in game. They eventually discover that the snack packs were made in the early '80s. When Sara expresses her disgust that the guys keep eating them, Brian says that they are so full of preservatives that it doesn't matter.

    Film 
  • From 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!
  • The Odd Couple gave us this scene. It's poker night in Oscar's apartment, cigar smoke fills the air:
    Oscar Madison: I'm in for a quarter.
    Murray: Aren't you going to look at your cards first?
    Oscar: What for? I'm gonna bluff anyway. Who gets a Pepsi?
    Murray: I get a Pepsi.
    Oscar: My friend Murray the policeman gets a warm Pepsi.
    Roy: You still didn't fix the refrigerator. It's been two weeks now — no wonder it stinks in here.
    Oscar: Temper, temper. If I wanted nagging, I'd go back with my wife. I'm out. Who wants food?
    Murray: What do you got?
    Oscar: (checks plate of pre-made sandwiches) I got, uh, brown sandwiches and, uh, green sandwiches. Which one do you want?
    Murray: What's the green?
    Oscar: It's either very new cheese or very old meat.
    Murray: I'll take the brown.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • One of the bad endings in Twistaplot #12: Journey to Vernico 5 is the result of eating a package of Choco-Raspberry Lunch Meat that was two years out of date.

     Live Action TV 
  • Seinfeld:
    • In one episode, 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.
    • 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.
  • Corner Gas: Hank and Brent find a "Dingle Puff" with an expiry date in 1973. Oscar plays a prank on them by making them think he ate it.
  • Hal from Malcolm in the Middle makes the mistake of eating canned food donated to the family and requires a trip to the ER when Lois checks the can and discovers the "olives" he was eating were actually peaches.

    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.
  • In Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow duology, it's possible to find spoiled milk as a dropped item. It "expired three years ago". Drinking it normally will do a flat 33% of your max health, more at lower levels, but equipping the ghoul soul will make it palatable, turning it into one of the best healing items in the game.
  • In Nancy Drew Danger on Deception Island, Katie Firestone has some mayonnaise that expired in 1994 (to put this into perspective, the game was released in 2003). If you eat it or feed it—or give it to someone else—you/they get food poisoning and the game ends.

    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.
  • In Freefall, Sam loves past expiration date food. His being a scavenger race probably causes this.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Regular Show, Mordecai and Rigby find cans of soda from 1984 in their attic. They serve the sodas at a party, though no one gets sick.
  • In Undergrads, Rocko drinks clam juice that expired in 1978. He then hallucinates the Great Gazoo.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode 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 another episode, Homer eats a box of baking soda from the back of the fridge that Homer thinks was there when they bought the house.
    • In "The Bart of War", Bart and Milhouse drink a "forty year old novelty beverage" they find in Ned Flanders' Beatles shrine and experience a Mushroom Samba.
  • In the opening of The Simpsons Movie, Apu is seen doctoring the expiration date of a milk carton, turning the 3 in 2003 into an 8.
  • In a Garfield and Friends cartoon, Garfield stops Jon from cleaning out his refrigerator because (Garfield 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 potentially delicious food, all of which is old and stinky. Periodically, his mother throws it all out.
  • The end of an episode of Fillmore! had all the safety patrollers hanging out at Ingrid's house. O'Farrel is eating raw cookie dough out of a carton that the others remark is decades old. Ingrid goes on to recite the ingredients from memory and reassures him that the dough contains enough preservatives to outlast the Sphinx.
  • In the episode of Rocko's Modern Life, "Trash-O-Madness", Rocko finds in his fridge a mysterious tub that's so old it's covered with dust and when he blows off the dust it reads "Buy War Bonds." (Rocko is a young adult and the series takes place in the early 1990s). All that's left in the tub is a large green moldy blob that Spunky decides is an excellent chew toy.
  • In the penultimate episode of Total Drama's first season, the semifinalists get a special treat: pancakes made with ingredients "relatively close to their expiration date''. The implication is that the food they usually get fits this trope.
  • From an episode of Home Movies:
    McGurk: Old fool dies, leaves me a sausage. Not money. A sausage. Because money is something I actually NEED. Now I have to sit here and eat this repugnant sausage. This sausage has to be 18 years old. This sausage could vote. This sausage could go to war and die for its country.
  • In an episode of Steven Universe, Amethyst casually eats a moldy, 5-year-old tuna burrito without giving any thought about it. A few moments later, she clenches her stomach and doubles over, all while Pearl is explaining that the Gems can never die of old age... or food poisoning.

    Real Life 
  • The Mexia Supermarket in Fort Worth, Texas. The owners abandoned the store abruptly in July 1999 and left it sitting with all the food still inside. By November, the place was overrun with bugs and animals consuming the now extremely rotten food, and neighbors were complaining about the smell. By year's end, the place was finally cleaned up and fumigated. This story was featured on the Life After People episode "Last Supper".
    • A Popeyes Chicken in Brooklyn, New York met a similar fate in mid-2011.
  • After Hurricane Katrina, a lot of refugees returned to their homes when the flood receded to find that the food in their fridge had decayed to the point that some of them could be considered a biohazard, and walk-in fridges in certain restaurants had to be cleaned with the same procedures as dealing with fallout.

Wacky CravingsFood TropesWine Is Classy
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alternative title(s): Best Before Decade
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