The Incredible, Expirable Egg (How to Keep Neighbors From Having a Fight)

21 03 2008

There are two types of people in a marriage. Those who heed food expiration dates and those who disregard them.

One of the laws of the universe is that an expiration heeder (EH) always marries an expiration disregarder (ED…not to be confused with erectile dysfunction). EH’s and ED’s tend to argue about these dates. EH’s find themselves secretly throwing away food (and stuffing it way down in the bottom of the trash can so that their ED partner will not see it) in an effort to save their family from the pain and suffering of botulism. ED’s make a fuss about wasted food and money and talk about how expiration dates are not real and the food is still good.

My name is Matt, and I’m an EH. My wife is Allison, and she’s most definitely an ED. We have spirited discussions about our food perceptions and the potential lack of safety of various foods that have occupied our fridge for some length of time. Who is right?

There are variables that muddy the picture. Some of the time, food is clearly marked as having an expiration date. EH’s love this. It is clear and concise and tells you the exact moment an egg becomes fraught with danger. ED’s do not like this, as they wish not to be told by anyone when a food has reached the disgusting point. ED’s much prefer their food to say either, “Best before” or “Sell by” dates. This gives them the leeway they crave. ED’s believe that eggs, for example, are still good weeks after the “Best before” date. Apparently they are satisfied eating a egg that is “not at its best” but is still probably not going to kill you. EH’s wish that manufacturers would just grow some cojones and put a definitive date on the things. If you give an ED an food inch, they’ll take a mile.

Here’s when things really get fun. Sometimes, an egg carton with have only a date with no words. This, of course, is interpreted by EH’s as a strict “Expires by” date while ED’s believe this to clearly be a “Sell by” date. In these situations, separate vacations may be needed to help cool things off.

Well, I was faced with an interesting spin on this whole food thing last weekend when we were dog-sitting for our neighbors, who had gone out of town. On Saturday morning, my toddler made it clear to me that she would eat an egg for breakfast, and ONLY an egg. This was a small problem. We were out of eggs. After trying to tempt her with a variety of edibles that we actually had in the house, such as cereal, hash browns, waffles, pancakes, etc, she reiterated that she would not even consider eating anything other than an oval thing that comes out of a chicken.

The easy solution hit me! Our neighbors were gone, and we have a key to their house in case of emergency, such as needing an egg! Surely they had them. I wouldn’t have to make a quick trip to the store in my sweatpants (many of you know what happened the last time I tried that.)

I made my way over there, whistling a happy egg and toddler tune. In no time, I’d have a yummy scrambled egg whipped up, and no more would I have to listen to the early-morning screams of “I DON’T WANT A WAFFLE!! IT’S YUCKY!!!”

I entered their abandoned abode and went directly to the fridge. I opened it, and *GASP* I was immediately faced with a dilemma. They had two egg cartons. There were four eggs remaining in the first carton, and they had an expiration date (that’s right EXPIRATION, not BEST BEFORE, at least in my opinion) of a few days prior. Since I am an upstanding EH who cares about preventing food poisoning in my only child, I could not take one of those eggs. The problem, however, is that the second carton, with a beautiful expiration date well into the future, was full. If I took one from that carton while a few eggs remained in the top carton, it would be obvious at some point to my neighbors that one had been used, which could lead to a case of mistaken identity and a huge fight.

I know my neighbors well, and I am certain that one of them is an EH while the other is an ED. Once one of them realized that an egg had been used from the bottom carton, either the ED would be angry with the EH for not using one of the older, “still-good” eggs, OR the EH would be angry with the ED for being a hypocrite and taking one of the EH’s new eggs after endlessly preaching that expiration dates were for fools.

I like my neighbors, and I could not be the cause of marital discontent. I stood there, with the fridge door open (I can picture my parents in heaven admonishing me for letting all the cold air out.) What was I to do? I closed the fridge and decided I was going to have to mull this situation over for a bit. While thinking, I did what anyone would do. I walked about the house eating some of their potato chips, found some old love letters my neighbors had written to each other (they were buried at the bottom of one of their closets), plopped down on their couch, put my feet up on their coffee table, and started reading. At some point during an “I miss you so much” letter, the solution finally came to me! I would just take the whole, full egg carton home, go the grocery later that day, and give them a whole new egg carton before they ever got home. That way, my toddler would get her much-needed and completely safe egg. We would have all the eggs we might need that day. My neighbors would have an even newer dozen of eggs to go along with their decrepit, expired partial carton, and they could work out what to do with the 4 rotten eggs themselves!

Satisfied with my decision, I stuffed a few of the love letters in my pocket, brushed the chip crumbs off my shirt, grabbed the unspoiled dozen eggs, and headed home. They’ll never even know how I saved them from an argument. Man, I’m the best neighbor ever.

p.s. My kid didn’t want the egg once I had made it.




38 responses

21 03 2008

I want to thank you for scanning and e-mailing your neighbor’s love letters to me. They were very entertaining!

21 03 2008

No problem. I especially liked the one that ended: “I’d rather live without air than live without you. p.s. Sorry about the chunky milk at my place. I thought it was still good.”
What a total ED.

21 03 2008

Don’t forget about the one that read “I need you like food needs an expiration date.” I remember this one causing the next letter to be quite apologetic.

21 03 2008
Peter Parkour

Surely you will be sainted one day for your good deeds. 😉

21 03 2008
Sherri Cornelius

Matt, you are so funny. I thought I’d point out the guffaw-inducing parts of your post, but there are too many. I’m gonna put you in my blogroll on my next site edit, ‘kay?

(BTW, I’m a total EH, too.)

21 03 2008
Maggie, dammit


and this? “ED’s much prefer their food to say either, “Best before” or “Sell by” dates. This gives them the leeway they crave.” Spot-on.

Your neighbors are lucky to have you.

21 03 2008

Sherri, feel free, and thanks! (you too, Maggie)

21 03 2008

As THE neighbor herself, I am appalled! As the respective EH in our family…and yes, you were right that we most definitely have one of each, and it probably doesn’t surprise you to learn who is the EH and who is the big ED…I had already recorded the expiration date of the former carton on our calendar as a reminder of the exact date on which their time was up, and now my whole system is off 🙂 BTW, after your wife’s history with soy burgers, you didn’t need to clarify who was the ED in your house 🙂 The fact that little Mo wouldn’t eat the egg after you made it really tops off the whole story for me 🙂

PS I can’t believe you posted all of those love letters on the internet….

21 03 2008

Sweet about the calendar. Sounds like something I’d do. Plus I feel better about eating at your house now! Sorry about the love letters. I left out the juiciest parts.

21 03 2008
Taoist Biker

I’m certainly an ED, but I have a stomach of cast iron. Given that my wife’s gastric system would be better described with words like “tissue paper,” I suppose I can cut her some slack for being an EH.

21 03 2008

This is hilarious! I love it. I particularly liked “Our neighbors were gone, and we have a key to their house in case of emergency, such as needing an egg!”


22 03 2008

Great post Matt. I am with Allison on this. Perhaps because we are both watching the money flow and will be eating expired eggs in order to afford the sumer light bills.

Besides as an ED, I understand that the expired food also acts as a colon cleanser. 😀

22 03 2008

“p.s. My kid didn’t want the egg once I had made it.”

Best part of the whole story.

22 03 2008

Out of billions, this is one of the best stories on the internet today. I enjoyed the visual of kicking back in the neighbor’s house. Did you, perhaps, put on any feminine underwear?

22 03 2008

Oh pama, if you only knew about his lacy thigh highs.

Similar to my view on recipes, expiration dates are to be considered suggestions and not mandates. I cannot live under the tyranny of a barely discernible date.

22 03 2008

Um, eggs are perfectly good for like two months after you buy them. For serious! I am a total ED. I rarely throw food out. I even save the really stale bread (that can’t be used for toast) to feed the ducks. 🙂

You are so funny, Matt!

24 03 2008

Matt and Allison ~ I was thinkking about you when I opened a bag of premixed salad. The bag had a “Best when Enjoyed by:” date on the bag. This made me wonder if it would be less than enjoyable after said date. Perhaps many foods are less enjoyable after a certain date.

Today I am not going to enjoy my salad, as the date of enjoyment ended 03/23/08. *sigh*

24 03 2008

Ps ~ Deep thinkking requires an extra “k”. 😉

24 03 2008

I am absolutely an EH, while boyfriend (with whom I cook several nights a week) is definitely an ED. We argued over cheese once and I ended up insisting that he eat all of the remaining, questionable cheese. He did, to “show me” and spent the next day sick to his stomach. He blames the quanitity, I blame the expiration date. Three weeks is a little excessive!

PS: That’s exactly what I would have done, had I found myself alone in a neighbors house. Only, I would have looked for chocolate …

24 03 2008

I love this post. It’s hilarious.

My husband is the ED in our house. Also, once a gallon of milk was left out overnight, and he said, “it won’t hurt, it’s probably still good”. I used my mathematical skills, and explained to him that a $4 gallon of wasted milk was much more cost effective than a visit to the ER for food poisoning.

24 03 2008
Jonathan Bloom

EDs rule! Very entertaining story, thanks for sharing.

Coming at things from an avoiding waste perspective, as I tend to do, I view many of the sell-by and use-by dates merely as food companies’ lawyerly, overly-cautious formulas. I’ve spoken with a bunch of food safety experts on the topic and they agree (minus the lawyerly part). When I worked at a supermarket, I dined on many a delicious “expired” item (that I was supposed to throw away).

One thing I’ve learned is that the flavor and texture are the first things to go, well before the food becomes a health risk. Finally, in my humble opinion, the best “use-by” indicator out there is your sniffer. I say: trust your nose.

And, of course (validating your theory), I’m married to an EH.

24 03 2008

Great comments everyone, and now I know whose food to eat and whose to avoid whenever someone has a big blog “carry-in” some day!

25 03 2008
Wasted Food » Blog Archive » Ding Ding!

[…] comes into question. 4. On a lighter note: While we’re talking about expiration dates, read this entertaining tale about marriage, neighbors and expiration dates. Are you an EH or an […]

25 03 2008
Maggie, dammit

Hey again, Matt.

I just made my breakfast, toast and an egg. It’s not my usual, so I didn’t actually check the eggs before I started heating the pan, toasting the bread….

Yeah so the eggs expired March 2. I thought of you IMMEDIATELY. And ate one anyway.

I’ll let you know tomorrow if I’m dead.

25 03 2008
Black Coffee & Bourbon

Hilarious post! I am an EH and my wife is an ED (“How can cottage cheese go bad? It’s cheese.”)

When I throw food out of our fridge I also make sure it is stuffed in the bottom of the garbage, or I’ll have a special bad food bag which I quickly carry out to the trash can. Disposing of the evidence quickly is key to keeing the ED happy and blissfully unaware of the safety the EH provides.

26 03 2008

Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m an EH. I actually tossed milk after my cold from hell because it was going to expire the next day. My husband on the other hand is the ED and asked me why I tossed the milk when it still had another week left in it. Eww.

27 03 2008

I’m glad to know ED, in this case, doesn’t stand for Erectile Dysfunction, since Allison is the one that has it!

I tend to be more of an ED when it comes to cooking eggs, but when I drink them raw I’m a little pickier. They’ve got to be fresh!

27 03 2008

I served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia, where many of us (myself included) were sent to extremely remote areas that lacked basic amenities such as running water and electricity. To prepare us for such locations, we received training on what must be done to and with our food stuffs to ensure that they would not make us sick: boil all water before consumption, heat meat until it was thoroughly cooked, etc. We also received a list of which foods necessitated refrigeration–which, for those of us in areas lacking electricity, was essentially a list of foods you could expect not to eat for the next two years.

Conspicuous in its abscence from this list was eggs. When someone pointed this out to the instructor (a licensed MD, by the way), she said, “yeeeah the idea that you have to refrigerate eggs is pretty much just an America myth.” This came as a complete shock to most of the people in the room, but, as the instructor went on to explain, it makes perfect sense when you consider that eggshells are essentially the most airtight packaging every designed.

As a follow-up someone asked her how long you could keep eggs before you should throw them away. In response she just shrugged and said, “when you crack a bad egg, you’ll know. Beyond that, I wouldn’t worry about it.” This from a woman who encouraged us to worry about anything that could make us the tiniest bit ill.

27 03 2008

Hahaha….how did you manage to make a story about an egg so “egg”cellent??? LOL, I was determined to leave this comment-thread with a lame LAME pun as my legacy, and I did it!!!


27 03 2008

@romi41: how did you manage to make a story about an egg so “egg”cellent???

I don’t know, it was rather eggscruciating to me.

27 03 2008
Pammy Girl

Oh Matt… silly, silly Matt. Only when food starts to grow fur do you throw it out. YUK. I had far too many roommates in college who believed in that theory and let me tell you: I’m surprised none of them died from salmonella poisoning because of it. Rule of thumb: anything taking up space in the fridge that smells, has changed color, turned into a solid, turned into a liquid, grown, or has a thin layer of slime on it gets thrown out immediately — along with the container its in — no matter the expiration date.

Do you think your daughter would’ve eaten the expired eggs if Allison has scrambled them instead of you?

28 03 2008
Person(Also Known As Mommy)

I had to read this outloud to my husband. He’s an ED and I am (of course) an EH and we both laughed our butts off!

Especially the last part-our 4 year old begs for food he won’t eat too!

You’re Hilarious-I’m totally adding you to my blogroll. I’ll be back!

28 03 2008
Jonathan Bloom

I second Matthew’s contention that eggs don’t need to be refrigerated. When I lived in New Zealand, the supermarkets kept the eggs in a regular aisle, next to the bread. While the preservative-free bread lasted only five days (bummer), the eggs were great!

28 03 2008

Your wife is 100% RIGHT. Eggs stay fresh long after their suggested expiration date when kept refrigerated. We’re talking like 4-5 WEEKS, not days.

Now go whisper to her those 3 magical words: You Were Right.

[And you’ll be getting a bigger Grand Slam than anything they’re serving over at Denny’s.]

30 03 2008

Interesting info about egg storage, everyone! (I never thought I’d say that sentence.)
Maggie, I hope you’re still alive.
Pammy, you’re comment is funnier than you know. Allison basically just cooks dessert. She’s pretty much afraid to try preparing eggs, meat, etc.
Daily, while my wife is usually right, you don’t know the woman you are writing about. I don’t think we’ve actually ever had an “egg” fight. It’s usually about other things that expired MONTHS ago and that suffered through a power outage in our garage fridge. Let’s just say she’s an extreme ED.
Black Coffee and Sarah, great job with the food disposal.
Person known as Mommy, welcome!

29 04 2008
My Contribution to Science « Dad in the Headlights

[…] Then again, I’m an “expiration disregarder” according to Matt. Check out his funny poston expiration dates. For the record, I’m an expiration disregarder while The Wife is an […]

12 11 2008

tang ina

14 01 2009
How Not to Get a Raise « That’s What She Blogged

[…] the bottle they came in,” I answered, “Did I forget to mention that I’m an expiration disregarder?”  Maybe I should have thought about that before I distributed the […]

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