Everything has an expiration date. We suppose that means that everything expires. But do they really? Ok, first of all, this post really isn’t about expiration dates. Just hang in there for a couple of paragraphs. Second, they aren’t all “expiration” dates. Without getting too technical, let’s look at all of those dates on the things we buy.
“Expiration” dates are the dates that the product ceases to exhibit the characteristics identified. For example, after the expiration date there is no guarantee that an 81mg aspirin tablet will still deliver 81mg of aspirin. It may not hurt you to take it but you won’t be getting the full benefit of it. Drugs, chemicals, some baking products have expiration dates. Most often these dates are the first or the last day of a specific month and year (“Expires Oct 31, 2014”).
“Do Not Sell After” dates are the last date an item should be sold that still will deliver the product with the expected quality and safety for some additional period of time. The most famous sell by date is on milk. If you buy milk on its last day of sell you don’t have to chug it all before midnight. You can buy milk on the last day and take it home and drink it over several days. The number of days are some agreed upon time based on harvest and packaging (or milking, a harvest of a different hand). The tricky part with these dates is that each product has its own expectation of use period. You can look them up or let experience be your guide. Does it still smell good? Drink the milk. A couple or three days won’t hurt you any.
“Beyond Use” dates are the dates a product should not be used beyond. (Clever, don’t you think?) This means the item is not going to do you any good and may do you harm if you take it or use it after that date. Specialty drugs, hand-crafted or some artisan food products, and certain chemicals have beyond use dates. These dates have been determined by specific tests and assays and are usually published in official references for the products’ manufacturers. If it says that the beyond use date (or “Use By”) is October 12, 2014, that means the 13th is bad luck. Don’t do it!
That, at last, brings us to the heart of this post. Coupons! Last weekend He was going through his coupon keeper (yes, he uses coupons) slotting in last week’s haul and sifting out the “expired” coupons. And that’s when it struck him. Why are coupons so bleeping specific? He was planning on grocery shopping on Sunday, October 12 but many of the coupons that could have been useful expired on October 9. What was the significance? It was far from the start or the end of the month (at least 9 days). October 9 was not a week’s start or end; it was a mid-week Thursday. They originally came from a Sunday newspaper supplement so they weren’t a specific number of weeks from their published date. It was some random day someone picked out just like they were dealing with caustic chemicals that would inflict harm if you dared tried to redeem them after their beyond use date!
We understand it is by the companies’ good graces that they honor us with special savings but it turn they also are creating brand loyalty. Get with it big companies and coupon printers! If it’s good enough for aspirin to expire at the end of some generic month, why can’t coupons be the same?
Now that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you.
(Do not read after December 31, 2045.)