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.

It’s hard to believe the topic of the Supreme Court and abortion could become any more controversial or dramatic. But there was no way to know a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade would be leaked to the press. A situation so shocking, it’s being compared to the "Pentagon Papers" leak.

Yes, leaks happen all the time in politics – at the campaign level, sometimes from Congress, and even on occasion from the executive branch. But from the Supreme Court of the United States??? Yet as Black said to Red just after it happened,

Nowadays, it is just too easy to have a “leak” as almost everything is just a “click away” from being shared or printed. No clandestine nights at the copy machine are required.

There’s an expression … throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Well, Supreme Court decisions on “babies” (well, technically fetuses) may also impact its integrity.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There’s no question the recent Supreme Court cases involving abortion are controversial and may have a major impact on Roe v. Wade; something that both Red (as a mom to two daughters) and Black (as a highly independent woman who made the conscious decision not to have children) have strong feelings about, albeit focused on two very different aspects.

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If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.

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To quote the lyrics from "West Side Story," “Could be … who knows …”

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, the theater major and lover of Broadway musicals, has loved "West Side Story" for as long as she can remember, so imagine her surprise when Black, usually only interested in the business aspects of the entertainment world, shared a “new” fact (at least, new to Red) about one of the most popular musicals ever produced.

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