In other words, this cereal expired one month before 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' premiered on TV and six months before Princess Diana died.
Photo via Flickr user Brian Lynch
When Anthea Carelse poured a bowl of her just-purchased box of cereal, it just took her a couple of bites before she realized something was wrong. Her husband, Josiah, ate a full bowl before acknowledging that it didn’t taste quite right. That’s when they looked at the Best By date embossed on the top of the box, and somehow didn’t immediately spew into their own sink when they realized that it expired on February 22, 1997.
The Carelses told The Denver Channel that they’d just bought the box of Quaker 100% Natural Granola cereal at a Walmart in Littleton, Colorado on Monday. Yes, Monday of this year, a full 21 years after that box of cereal expired. (The cereal is a decade older than the couple’s 11-year-old daughter, Layla, and is old enough to crack open a can of beer with both of her parents).
“We just grabbed this off the shelf and yeah… 21 years old,” Josiah told the news station, which confirmed that the cereal’s UPC code matched the code that was printed on their Walmart receipt. He plans to return it to the store, where hopefully the employees will let them exchange it for something that was manufactured after the turn of the 21st century. (To better explain how old this cereal is, it expired one month before Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on TV, three months before New York businessman Donald Trump separated from his second wife Marla Maples, and six months before Princess Diana died).
Although Althea warned Josiah that he could “get really sick” if he ate any more of the, um, vintage cereal, the family seems to be unaffected by it. According to Eat By Date, a website that provides information on the safety of food beyond its manufacturer-set expiration date, the safety of expired cereal “depends on a variety of factors, such as [...] the preparation method and how and where the product is stored.” It estimates that cereal is still safe to eat from six to eight months beyond that “Best By” date; the Carelses cereal was 252 months past its own date.
“Manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality,” the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains. “Except for infant formula, dates are not an indicator of the product’s safety and are not required by Federal law.” By its definition, a ‘Best if Used By/Before” date only specifies when the food will be at its peak flavor or quality, so there!
That should make the entire Carelse family feel better—or it proves that they’re all time travelers who returned to the late 1990s purely to improve their daily fiber intake.
MUNCHIES has reached out to Walmart for comment. MUNCHIES will also be examining every single set of numbers stamped on every food product that we put in our mouths from now on.