Can popcorn kill you?

I love a bargain and love to search for them. To the extent that I’ve figured out how much gasoline it will take to drive to the cheaper grocery store farther from my house. I’m going to have to save at least $1.00 on the extra trip. So, you can imagine how happy I was the other day to see an entire “closeout” cart of microwave popcorn listed at .50 a box! Are you kidding? I was in. I’m surprised you couldn’t see my little feet sticking up out of the cart as I dove in to stock up. I brought it home and got ready to enjoy. I decided to see if I could figure out why the popcorn was 80% off the regular price. No dents or scratches on the box, it was a name brand, unopened. Then I saw it. The expiration date. Best if used by June 23, 2006. Right down to the day! I wonder why they didn’t add a time stamp?

What exactly does “best if used by” really mean? Will it smell the best, taste the best, pop the best? Does microwave popcorn spoil? Is there some chemical reaction that will happen at 12:00 a.m. June 24, 2006? Being microwave popcorn, is there a nuclear threat? I decided to go for it. It was fine. It popped every kernel. Did not burn, tasted fine, and as far as I know, I’m not glowing in the dark. So what’s the deal? And why did the store still have it 7 months past the expiration date? Its a Wisconsin-based store. Do they ship all grossly expired food to those dumb Illinois flatlanders and see what we’ll eat? I just might have to ask. Maybe I could sue. Maybe I can blame my sinus infection and mischievous children on the expired popcorn.

Only time will tell if there is any real problem with the popcorn. Until then, I am going to do the frugal mom victory dance for purchasing microwave popcorn for .50 a box. I’m a genius. Unless of course, I die.


33 responses to this post.

  1. Hahaha! You remind me of my mum. When shopping for dresses with my sister, she would say “That’s a nice one; try on that” or “that looks good on you” – provided of course that it was the CHEAPEST dress on display!

    Then there was the collecting of sugar and milk sachets from cafes and hotel rooms – I could go on …


  2. You could ask Orvil Reddenbacher… EXCEPT HE’S DEAD!!!!!!!!

    But I’m sure you’ll be fine.


  3. Greetings! Found your comments on my site – thanks so much! And, I’m still up tonight (this morning) and enjoying your site very much as well!

    Even as a nurse – expiration dates don’t really mean much to me. Years past – maybe – days, months, a year or two – give me a break! In my fridge, it’s the smell test.

    Oh the things we moms do! I look forward to visiting more – it’s nice to have new web friends.


  4. I have also wondered how a few hours could change the product.Milk was of course is an exception.I love the way you present your views.Look forward to your next post.


  5. An after thought- you know Joni we have recipes handed down by our grandmothers for pickles, which have no expiry date. The best thing is we don’t have to add preservatives in that. Everything is organic.


  6. I think you’re okay. More then one small child has eaten the year old popcorn off of a Christmas Tree string….


  7. Hahahaha, don’t you still love the popcorn anyway. I wish I could still have popcorn but I have Braces, Im not allowed to have it. Come check out my blog


  8. Your blog inspires a confession. I eat food that is well expired. I justify it by convincing myself that it contributes to the iron stomach that I have that rarely, RARELY rejects what I put into it. Seriously, I think the FDA’s stamp on food life is overrated.


  9. Posted by Kristen Jones on February 2, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Hey there Joni!
    Okay I never comment but just couldn’t help myself on this one. Okay so the kids and I just did a whole unit on popcorn!! Thought you might be interested. The whole reason popcorn pops is because the moisture in it when heated warms to the point where it explodes. So if you were, to lets say, put the unpopped pop corn in the oven first, at a low temp for about and hour and then try and pop it doesn’t pop. It kind of turns out like corn nuts….maybe that’s where they got corn nuts from! So I would guess that as it gets older the same type of thing happens, the water would sort of dry up and make it less likely to pop. Okay so there you have it.


    • The reason why popcorn pops has nothing to do with heat it’s die to the pressure from the steam inside it wouldn’t theologically matter if the steam is warm or if it was very hot


  10. I KNEW someone would come through for me!! I was just waitin’ for the answer. I can’t believe you did a unit on popcorn. That’s awesome!


  11. Aha…thanks for your insight, Kristen! So the expiration date probably predicts how long they can guarantee “moisture”….interesting! Your safe, Joni!

    I had a company that sent me stickers that I needed for the Fall Fun Fest, the DAY AFTER the event. I asked them if they would let me keep them for next year (Free of charge) and they said “no.” I asked about a discount and they said, “No, because the stickers may have “expired” by then.” They told me that they couldn’t guarantee their stickiness a year later?!?! I will not be using that same company next year…


  12. Posted by julieblack on February 2, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Hi again Joni! My husband just saw a show on popcorn that also explained the unpopped kernels! I too, am a tightwad! I just recently followed the advice of a frugal website that I found and bought popcorn in a bag, instead of microwave popcorn. It was tremendously cheaper, but I don’t care what anyone says (unless you know a trick that I don’t know about)….microwave popcorn is sooooo much more worth the money than the old fashioned kind! The bagged kind cooked the old fashion way is just not as fluffy, and burns very easily. I love to save on most everything, but popcorn at our house will have to continue to come in a micro bag! 🙂


  13. Posted by Niki on February 12, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Joni, I have to say I love reading your posts. You make me laugh so much and everything you say reminds me of something my own son does!

    I just wanted to say that I just threw out some “expired” popcorn today b/c I had no idea what would happen if I ate it. I’m glad to know we won’t die!!! Hee hee hee. 😀


  14. Posted by Dustin on April 7, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    We have some expired popcorn here at work, and instead of throwing it out, I eat about one every weekend. I’m still alive, and it tastes fine. That sounds like the right answer about the moisture inside the kernels becoming dried up.


  15. Posted by marivie on May 7, 2007 at 8:46 am

    I think you will be just fine. Mine was even a DEC 2005 microwaveable popcorn. Curious like a cat ..I really did try it. It tasted good. Corn dont developing countries its even a staple food and they stock it for years and years, under normal tropical weather.


  16. Posted by Jenny on June 4, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    YOUR GOING TO DIIIIIIIIE!!! At least thats what happend to me when i ate expired microwave popcorn!! and mine had just expired one day before well good luck in your next life. I imagine you have approxamately seven days to live!!.


  17. Posted by Dr.ARCHIBALD on July 4, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    This expiriment will prove nothing. What I want to is if expired deoderant can kill you.

    Switch to that one please:


  18. Posted by Dr.ARCHIBALD on July 4, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Let me try that again:
    This expiriment will prove nothing. What I want to know is if expired deoderant can kill you.



  19. Posted by Frank on April 17, 2008 at 12:41 am

    Thanks for your comments Joni. I found some microwave popcorn in my pantry that was 3 months past the expiration date and was wondering if I should eat it. I plan on enjoying it.


  20. Posted by Susan on December 27, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I read this post while eating a bag of microwave popcorn that expired Dec 2007! I feel fine so far, but much better after reading your post and the comments…


  21. Posted by Natasha on December 28, 2009 at 5:03 am

    I’m about to pop a bag that was best by July 26, 2008. I’ll let you know if I die.. oh wait….


  22. I’m eating a bag that expired in Dec 2005!!!! And it’s loaded with butter…i didn’t get sick last time, so cross your fingers, cuz this bag is exactly 4 years old! 😦 And it’s in the cabinet here at the office.! LOL


  23. Posted by Popcorn Esther on January 2, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Well I am going to try some year old Orville Kettle Corn hopefully after
    its done microwaving I dont die!


  24. Posted by NiJo on October 16, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I just ate one packet that “expired” on 07/2007. Feeling nice till now.
    Packet was well closed, salty popcorns, didn’t smell anything bad from it, all corns popped…
    Although, I could detect some “oil” favour in individual corns, maybe due to some reactions.
    The overall taste (4 popcorns in the mouth) was still the same, I would say.

    I’ll post here if something strange happens (unless I die).


  25. Eating 1 year old microwavable popcorn at the moment and I feel fine, tastes and smells greats…all popped great…so im probably not gonna die

    And about the deodorant…it just stops working after expiration date im guessing


  26. Posted by Sarah M on October 29, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I googled “eating popcorn after the “best by” date and came up with your post, I love it! And am going to pop my modestly 3 month past the best by date popcorn 🙂 I am pretty confident I will live on to read more posts from you another day!


  27. Posted by P Highland on November 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    I think I just did a “stuppppid” thing. There was a bag of microwave light buttered popcorn in the freezer at work. It had an expiration date of 2005 (This is the end of 2012!). I think what could go bad with popcorn kernels and especially since it has been in the freezer. I popped it and I ate over half the bag – and it tasted okay. I never thought of the butter that could go rancid. I may not get sick (I may just die), but this is stupid as it is cheap and I think there was a bag in the vending machine next to the refrigerator. I usually abide fairly closely to expiration dates, but not I am not paranoid over them. I drink milk past expiration date as long as it doesn’t smell or taste bad or even starting slightly to taste bad. We should not take this kind of chance with our health – 7 YEARS – I can’t figure out why I didn’t throw it out.
    Call me STUPID!


  28. Posted by debo52rah on June 5, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I just ate a bag of microwave popcorn that was “best used by May of 2007” and it’s June of 2015. It tasted a tiny bit funky but otherwise seemed fine and popped well. If I get sick tonight, I’ll let you know!


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