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Cleaning out cupboard was a real eye-opener

Have you ever wondered what all those numbers on the bottoms of cans are all about? I wasn't too concerned about them until a few years ago, when I came across a few cans of food in the back of my cabinet.

I knew I had gotten a good deal on them, but I couldn't remember exactly when that had happened. It was one of those items you think you have a taste for at the time, but if not eaten right away, you never seem to use it.

I remember the days when the government urged people to stockpile canned goods, water and other miscellaneous items just in case of a nuclear attack. But that wasn't the case here, this was just a great sale.

I knew if we hadn't eaten them by now, we never would, so I put the canned goods in a box for the food pantry. After thinking about it for a moment, I decided I had better check for dates to see how old they were.

The number on the bottom of the cans came in handy. When I called the company's customer service department, I couldn't believe my ears. I even asked the woman to repeat herself to make sure I had heard her correctly. These canned goods were processed in the 1950s!

I knew I hadn't purchased them that long ago because in that era, I was still in high school. I asked the woman how long canned goods last. She told me they are good for quite some time and that it was probably all right to eat them, although the flavor would not be the same. Gee, do you think?

Now, when I get the urge to buy a little bit more, I try to be aware of when the item was canned. Time seems to have a way of slinking by, and you think you will use these things up faster than you do.

I could not pass these items along to other people at the food pantry. Just because they are having hard times doesn't mean they deserve outdated food items, especially from the '50s. Nobody deserves those.

This experience makes me wonder where and when the discount stores that offer such great deals on these items are purchasing them. I guess that's where the saying "let the buyer beware" comes into play.

I suppose I will still stockpile canned goods occasionally, but I'll be sure to check the dates. And it helps that almost everything is dated nowadays. The way the economy is now, it's not a bad idea to keep a few extra items around just in case. Bargains are everywhere.

But the next time I have a taste for something unusual, I will enjoy the food that day. Sometimes, saving for a rainy day isn't a good idea.

One day a few years ago, I decided to clean out one of my cupboards and found some cans with labels that had mysteriously disappeared. We had quite a surprise meal that evening.

I am so glad companies have finally started to make half cans of pop and half containers of food items for those times when I have a little taste for something.

Now that I'm retired, I have time to recycle items and check dates, so there are not many surprise dinners anymore.

I loved the '50s. The music was great. But the canned goods -- not so much.

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Marion Liebler, of the Town of Tonawanda, was shocked to learn she had canned goods from the 1950s.

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