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Way Past the Expiration Date

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"Seeing as this flag on the label only has 48 stars..." Man, you don't wanna know how old it is.note 

"This expired milk is an important plot point! On a show about ninjas!" [drinks] "Man, that's GOOD food poisoning!"

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 and Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat.


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  • Drinking expired milk is among the things DirecTV says is favorably comparable to having cable TV in one of their commercials.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Accel World, the heroes stop by Sky Raker's home in Brain Burst a place that she hasn't visited in two years. Since one second in the real world is equal to 1,000 seconds in Brain Burst, Sky Raker warns the others that the food is two millennia out of date.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • A box of emergency rations expired a year before the episode they appear in, "Mushroom Samba", gives Faye a case of the trots because she ate the entire crate.
    • The episode "Toys in the Attic" is what happens when lobster is left in the fridge too long. It becomes a sentient case of food poisoning that nearly kills the entire crew.
  • A recurring gag in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days is that the Elixirs that the Moogle sells to Roxas happen to be expired.
  • One bit in Lucky Star has Tsukasa get herself something to eat from the fridge, so she grabs a box there and opens it. Whatever used to be edible has rotten to the point of being censored via Pixelation, causing her to throw it away in shock.
  • 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.

  • George Carlin's does a bit called "The Ice Box man" on the live album/live show "A Place For My Stuff" in which for a good part of the bit he discusses how people deal with expired foods in the refrigerator (aka icebox).

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Zits: In a 2013 strip Jeremy finds a box of chocolate wafers at the back of the freezer with an expiration date of 2009. He eats them anyway.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In the opening of The Simpsons Movie, Apu is seen doctoring the expiration date of a milk carton, turning the 6 in 2006 into an 8.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • From Down Periscope:
    Pascal: Jesus, Buckman! This stuff's been on the Stingray since Korea! This can expired in 1966!
    Buckman: What's the matter, sir? It still tastes like creamed corn...
    Pascal: Except, it's DEVILED HAM!
  • The Naked Gun: Very little food in Frank Drebin's kitchen remains fit for human consumption. His attempt to pour a glass of milk nets him a tumbler filled with huge white chunks and Jane finds a Chinese takeout container from a restaurant that had closed down years before. Frank still opens it up and takes a whiff.
  • 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.

  • At one point in the backstory of The Disaster Artist, Greg is invited over to Tommy's house in San Francisco and finds, amongst other messy debris throughout the place, expired food in his fridge. When the former comments about the apartment's condition, the latter's only reply is that "his maid is on vacation".
  • Most of the foodstuffs sold by Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler and his international counterparts in the Discworld novels probably qualify, but the most explicit is the "live" yoghurt sold by Cut-Me-Hand-Off Dhblah in Small Gods, which is so alive he needs to hit it with a spoon to stop it escaping. He also sells past-the-sell-by dates. Inverted by Disembowel-Meself-Honourably Dibhala in Interesting Times, whose disgruntled customers complain that his thousand-year eggs are fresh.
  • 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's two years out of date.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In series 3 episode 33 of Bar Rescue, the strawberry margarita mix was over a year old.
  • An episode of Boy Meets World had Cory faking sick to avoid Topanga, causing her to come over with a bottle of juice that Cory claimed read "best before Lincoln's assassination."
  • 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."
  • 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 and pretending it made him delirious. Then Brent and Hank discover he was just pranking them and prank him back by making him think he actually ate it by mistake instead of the decoy he prepared. Then Emma actually does eat it, but the episode ends before we find out what happens to her.
  • The 2002 Christmas Episode of Fear Factor had the contestants drink 100-year-old eggnog (with some reindeer testicles on the side).
  • In Kim's Convenience, Mr. Kim is annoyed when his daughter Janet takes down the expired ravioli he was trying to sell at their titular store and attempts to prove they're still fine by eating one of the cans. Sure enough, he at least gets a scare when he makes frequent trips to the bathroom that day and gets sick (it also turns out Mrs. Kim's galbijjim, which both he and the sick Janet ate, went bad too, so it's not 100% clear if the ravioli also had any effect or not).
  • 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.
  • Married... with Children had Al intentionally eating expired food on occasion, due to his usual Too Hungry to Be Polite manner given how Peg never does grocery shopping and if she does, it's usually for herself. In one episode, he finds a cereal in the cupboard called "Cocoa Lumps" that says "Best Sold Before 1989" (the episode took place in 1993) which he then surmises that it's good for him because he's eating it instead of selling it.
  • 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.
  • On NewsRadio, Bill buys stale sandwiches from an old sandwich vending machine, on purpose. He likes them because they remind him of his childhood.
  • In Salute Your Shorts, Dr. Kahn announces over the speaker that there was a shipment error for their food, and advises the campers to disregard any milk containers dated for 1983 (bear in mind the show aired in the early '90s).
  • 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 sneaks into her boss's office and eats a piece of cake she finds in his mini-fridge... not knowing until after the fact that it was left over from the wedding of King Edward VIII in 1937, and a valuable collector's item that Peterman paid $29,000 for. When he catches her on the security camera, he calls her into his office.
      Peterman: Elaine, I have a question for you. Is the item still... [pats his stomach] 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.
  • 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.

  • The characters of The Grossery Gang are so past their expiration date that they have gained sentience.

    Video Games 
  • In the 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 a soul (Flesh Golem in Aria, Ghoul in Dawn) will make it palatable, turning it into one of the best healing items in the game.
  • Invoked in Day of the Tentacle. In order to get the vinegar needed for an invention, you must find a bottle of wine in the past and put it in a time capsule. Crack the capsule open in the future and you'll find it's turned to vinegar.
  • Fallout:
    • 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 hyper-processed crap made of artificial preservatives, sterilized by intense radiation. Unless you count consuming trace amounts of radioactive isotopes to be horrible consequences.
    • Parodied in Fallout 4 with the Perfectly Preserved Pie, a random drop you can get from the Food-O-Matic machines. Unlike other pre-war food which is either sealed up in containers or reduced to mold dust, the Pie has been sitting in pristine condition exposed to the elements for 200 years. Understandably, several followers tell you to avoid it.
  • In The Feeble Files, Feeble buys a bunch of very cheap, but also very expired Charisma X pills. As it turns out, they end up having the opposite effect when expired, causing the user to get very uncharismatic.
  • 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.
  • A scenario similar to the aforementioned Day of the Tentacle one was also used in Season 2 of Sam & Max: Freelance Police. In that case, upon traveling back in time, Sam would have to deliberately leave a bottle of wine open for years in order for it to become the vinegar used to solve a puzzle.

    Web Animation 
  • The punchline of the Homestar Runner short "Characters From Yonder Website" is that Homestar and the gang are hallucinating being in an "unbelievably soothing children's program" after drinking some Smarty Juice, which expired in 2007. Strong Sad ends up deciding to drink some as well, and joins them in an Easter Egg.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • In the Angry Video Game Nerd's review of Chex Quest, the eponymous Nerd starts the video off by having a bowl of Rice Chex cereal for breakfast. When he notices the cereal tastes funny, he looks at the box and finds out it expired in 1996 (the video was uploaded in 2019), causing him to vomit behind the box. He then remarks that he "really needs to go food shopping somewhere besides eBay."
  • Stuart Ashen:
    • Ashen has a track record of at least tasting chocolate, bubblegum and candy a decade or two past their expiry dates. Record holder is a Vietnam-War era US Army crackers and chocolate ration tin. He also had an unopened chocolate tin from around the time of King Edward VII's coronation at the turn of the twentieth century, but the chocolate looked so bad that he didn't even dare taste it.
    • The oldest thing he's ever opened is a jar of olives purported to have been recovered from the wreck of a merchant ship named the Stirling Castle. He initially pegged the jar as being at least 130 years old under the mistaken believe that the shipwreck occurred in 1886. Stuart found out shortly after posting the video that this particular brig went down in 1836, making the jar about one hundred and eighty years old! Needless to say, what came out of the jar was no longer fit for consumption, and he even wore latex gloves throughout the video.
      Stuart: Better try a bit of this — NO, I AM JOKING. There's no way on God's green Earth that this is going near anybody's mouth or face.
  • Brad Tries... is all about the titular host consuming food and drink that's either from exotic countries or was discontinued decades ago, like Crystal Pepsi from 1993 for example. Of particular note was his episode on Billy Beer, a beer from the '70s. Not only was he risking getting ill from the beer, he risked getting tetanus from the can.
  • Happens twice in Scott the Woz:
    • "New Super Mario Bros. | What's New Is Old" opens with Scott drinking (and spitting out) milk that he left outside but never opened for a week, believing that not opening it makes it technically still "new."
    • "Game Foods" ends with Scott eating a can of Super Mario soup, not realizing until it was too late that the soup expired 3 years prior. He ended up being admitted to the hospital again.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in The Amazing World of Gumball, when Darwin and Gumball buy a bunch of near-expired food sold for a discount. The instant it reaches its expiration date, the food not only becomes inedible but is destroyed completely in seconds: the eggs hatch into chicken, meat is devoured by maggots, and a canned rat spontaneously comes back to life and runs away.
    • Another episode has Nicole cleaning out the boys' room, which includes some food. She asks them what was in a glass she found and is told it's milk. When she turns the whole thing over, it slowly slides out as one piece, with Gumball amending that it's a glass of cheese. Then it finally dislodges from the cup, crashes straight through the floor, and practically caves in Richard's head. Gumball amends it's a glass of stone.
  • Animaniacs, in one of the Good Idea/Bad Idea sketches.
    Good Idea: Finding Easter eggs on Easter morning.
    Bad Idea: Finding Easter eggs on Christmas morning.
  • 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.
  • Subverted in Daria. Jake freaks out when he finds out the waffles he just ate were dated for the previous month. Helen tries to assure him that it's only the sell-by date and the waffles have been frozen since then.
  • In the Earthworm Jim episode "Sword of Righteousness", Jim kicks off the episode's plot by bringing Peter some pre-made vending machine sandwiches. Peter notes the expiration date on the sandwiches was 2006 B.C.
  • In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Tag Yer Ed", the Eds prepare to pour milk on their bowl of Chunky Puffs cereal. The milk has evidently expired and comes out as a thick, solid slab.
    Eddy: I love Chunky Puffs!
    Eddy: I hate chunky milk.
  • 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 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.
  • Gravity Falls: In the short "Mabel's Guide to Color", the kids are planning on how to show Stan a rainbow. Grenda says that she sees rainbows when she drinks expired milk, then downs a whole bottle.
  • From an episode of Home Movies:
    McGuirk: 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.
  • The Loud House: When Lincoln and his ten sisters visit their mom's Aunt Ruth, she feeds them pudding from old canisters that she keeps at her house. When Lori (the oldest of the eleven kids) questions what year the pudding was even made, Lisa (the second youngest but also the most intelligent of the eleven kids) notices that one of the canisters has an American flag with only 48 stars on it — from that, it can be deduced that the pudding was made sometime between February 14th of 1912 (when Arizona became an official state) and January 3rd of 1959 (when Alaska became an official state). Assuming the episode took place in 2016 (the year it aired), the pudding that Ruth was feeding to Lincoln and his sisters could've been anywhere from 58 to 104-years-old.
    • Another episode has Lincoln drinking what he thinks is root beer, only for Clyde to reveal that is in fact Dr. Peabody's Onion Elixir from 1812! Cue a Spit Take.
  • 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. However, soda "pop top" cans are very tightly sealed, so it's unlikely they were expired-or even flat.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
    • Which we would have remembered from an episode three seasons earlier when Apu loses the Kwik-E-Mart after he makes Homer sick with marked-down expired ham (and later, shrimp).
    • In another episode, Homer eats a box of baking soda from the back of the fridge that Marge claims came with the house when she and Homer first bought it.
    • In "The Bart of War", Bart and Milhouse drink a "40-year-old novelty beverage" they find in Ned Flanders' Beatles shrine and experience a Mushroom Samba.
    • In "The Man Who Grew Too Much", when Lunchlady Doris reveals to Lisa that the vegetables she uses are genetically-modified to stay fresh, she tells her not to ask how old the Jell-O is. There are two trays of gelatin cut into letters to promote the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983 and the Atlanta Olympics in 1996; the episode aired in 2014, so the trays would've respectively been around 31 and 18 years old.
    • A classic joke from the early seasons revolved around Homer bringing home a giant party sub sandwich from a company picnic, and kept eating it over the course of several weeks, even as it began to spoil. Finally, it was visibly rotting and covered in fungus, and he still wouldn't stop trying to eat it. It finally came back to bite him when he got food poisoning and couldn't visit Duff Gardens. Even then, Marge finally had to put her foot down and make him throw the sandwich out.
    • In "30 Minutes Over Tokyo", the Simpsons go grocery shopping at a 33 Cents Store so they can save for a vacation, and Homer eats a can of plankton, which expired three years previously, according to the Mexican Council of Health. He immediately succumbs to Red Tide Poisoning.
  • Total Drama:
    • In the penultimate episode of the 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.
    • When the teams merge in Pahkitew Island, the first part of their first challenge is to drink expired meat shakes called Juggy Chunks. According to Chef, they expired in 1978.
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob neglects Gary for days while he's cooped up in his room playing with a paddleball. To show how long it's been, Patrick takes out a carton of milk from the fridge and eats the mush inside, and is somehow able to deduce that it's seven to ten days past the expiration date.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In "So Many Birthdays", 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.
    • When the gems return home in "Steven Floats" after spending weeks staying at the barn, Steven opens the fridge and immediately reels back from the stink.
      Amethyst: Uh oh, that cake go bad?
      Steven: That was a cake!?
  • In the episode of Teen Titans that introduced the H.I.V.E., one of the things the Titans complain about after they reclaim their tower from the villains is that they threw away all the blue furry food in the refrigerator.
  • In the Turbo F.A.S.T. episode "No Can Do", Chet opens a can of tomato juice to feed the town. It later turns out the juice expired in the '70s, so everyone who drinks it becomes delirious and starts worshipping the can.
  • In Undergrads, Rocko drinks clam juice that expired in 1978. He then hallucinates the Great Gazoo.

    Real Life 
  • The Mexia Supermarket in Fort Worth, Texas. The owners suddenly abandoned the store in July of 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".
  • An abandoned 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.
  • There is a video out there (on YouTube) where purely for scientific interest, two willing volunteers prepare and consume a twelve-year-old Pot Noodle found in the forgotten dark depths of a food cupboard. What worried them was that while it looked grey and unappetizing, it still tasted broadly as if it were still fresh. Preservatives are there for a purpose, it seems...
  • There is another series of videos on You Tube where decades-old military rations are investigated and even consumed. The record is a British emergency ration from between 1899 and 1902 which was about as disgusting as one might expect (although in all fairness it probably was pretty vile to begin with).
  • If you have ever worked at a store that sells perishable food, chances are you've encountered this at least a few times.
  • In his Reddit AMA, Stefán Karl Stefánsson (who played Robbie Rotten in LazyTown), once relayed a story about how one time a scene called for Robbie to eat a piece of cake, and they used cream from a spray can to make the prop, however, when Stefán bit into the cake, it tasted horrible. Turns out the cream expired years ago.
  • In 1951, meat from a mammoth found preserved in the Siberian tundra was served at a very exclusive dinner. Or so the story goes, DNA analysis of a piece left over showed it was actually sea turtle meat. Although other stories have surfaced claiming it's edible but tastes about as bad as you'd expect meat more than 200,000 years old to taste.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Best Before Decade


Campbell's Super Mario Soup

In one episode, Scott eats a can of Super Mario soup, not realizing that it had already expired 3 years before the episode was even uploaded.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / WayPastTheExpirationDate

Media sources:

Main / WayPastTheExpirationDate