When it comes to a food’s expiration date, maybe you only think you know what that means …

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red expected the simple task of cleaning out our mother’s pantry would be a mindless, yet productive, way to spend her Saturday; whereas Black was concerned it might be a day filled with sad memories – we were both wrong.


Our mom had passed in mid-December, and Red had decided the first part of her house she’d tackle was the walk-in pantry. And while Black thought it was an odd place to begin, she figured it would go quickly as she expected it would be a well-curated collection of expired products, and couldn’t help but wonder if some of them dated back to when our parents still lived in our childhood home in New York. (Black remembers them shipping pantry items and old plastic food containers when they moved to Texas decades ago.)

For years, Red had wanted to “freshen up” the pantry or, at the very least, throw out anything “dated” more than a few years ago, but our mom was a self-proclaimed depression-era child, so wouldn’t waste anything. Now, Red faced row upon row of cans of salmon and tuna next to jars of gefilte fish and mayonnaise, much of which expired when her younger daughter, today a college freshman, was still in middle school. And she couldn’t help but feel an odd mix of bewilderment and amusement, with a bit of “yuck” thrown in for good measure.

As Red started to send Black photos with the stamped dates to “prove” why she was trashing so much (and to help ease her guilt of getting rid of things that our mom thought worthy of saving), she noticed that some items had “expiration dates” while others had “best by,” “sell by,” or “use by” dates, and wondered about the differences, and was surprised when Black commented,

Actually, except for baby formula, those dates are not federally regulated. So, I think of them as mere suggestions. I can remember explaining that to a former boyfriend who was trying to clean out my pantry. Think about it. What can “go bad” in dried pasta or matzo? Items that, in many ways, start off stale.

At first, Red started to panic because if that were true, she’d have to reevaluate the mini grocery store of old, expired items she’d already trashed. But then she stopped and quietly laughed to herself when she realized it didn’t matter as the dates were so far in the past that it was a no-brainer. And the good news is that when it comes to the pantry, if you wait long enough, some suggestions become obvious decisions.

Are you familiar with Hispanic Heritage Month? If not, maybe it’s time.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It seems like every month has a “national celebration”, and although we both agree there’s so much to celebrate during Hispanic Heritage Month, Red initially focused on the strange timing (starting mid-month) while Black focused on the lesser known (yet significant) achievements of the Hispanic community, as well as a name-calling incident that she can’t forget.

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Can we agree to disagree? No, we’re not talking politics – we’re talking pumpkin spice.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Fall has become the season of pumpkin, or more specifically pumpkin spice; which Red absolutely loves for various reasons while, for Black, besides the fact she doesn’t like the flavor, it just screams, well, MARKETING.

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In a promise to “never forget” we’re rerunning our 2021 post so that we always remember …

September 11 is a date on the calendar, but "9/11" is a date in history.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Much like JFK's assassination was to an older generation (although Black's old enough to be included), we both remember exactly what we were doing when we first heard the news of the attacks on the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and Flight 93; but, interestingly, how we reflect on 9/11 is a bit of a role reversal.

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