Dear Extreme Couponers,
I have three words of advice for you: Pop goes bad.
The "Extreme Couponing" show on TLC portrays a bunch of people who love a bargain and get a lot of product for next to nothing. I know you love your stockrooms full of groceries that you paid pennies for. But seriously, if you have 40 bottles of soda*, can you drink it all before it goes bad?
In Massachusetts, there's been a little controversy about serving school lunches made with frozen food that's past its expiration and/or "use by" and/or "best by" dates. Many of us know that "use by" and "best by" are guidelines, that this food isn't necessarily spoiled, but it may be losing its nutritional value.
That's not the case with carbonated beverages. Ever have a two-year-old Coke? The Boy did once one spring when my mom pulled a bottle of Olympic-labelled Coke out of her stockpile in the basement for him. I commented that it seemed a little early in the year for the Beijing Olympic labeling to be out....and then we noticed that the bottle was from the Torino Olympics two years earlier. The Coke tasted pretty bad and had to be dumped.
I just wanted to let you extreme couponers know that factoid. Use up that product in your storeroom before it really goes bad. If you waste product, did you really save money on it anyway? If you have to throw out 20 bottles of expired BBQ sauce that cost you 50 cents a bottle (after coupons and sales), well, you've just thrown away $10. Seems a little extreme to me.
[* Note to readers--Am I losing my Midwestern roots? That should be "pop." POP!!!]
Madgal alerted me to the new TLC show "Extreme Couponing," which of course I ended up watching--with my mouth open in shock for most of it. It profiles some people who really really really love to use coupons -- and have piles of food and other products to show for it. One guy has deodorant for years. Someone else bought over two dozen bottles of Maalox (I'm guessing you need all of that because you're also using your coupons on food that's not all that great for you, so you get a little acid buildup).
That's not the only crazy thing about the show. People spend hours and hours walking through stores, creating super-detailed shopping lists, breaking up their five-shopping-cart haul into 18 distinct transactions in order to maximize their coupons. One couple even shopped early in the day, then called friends into the store to act like they were buying the stuff because a store coupon was limited to one-per-person (note to friends: If you call me before 9 AM to go to a grocery store and pretend to buy food so that you can save an extra $5, you will be put on my shit list. I don't care if said food is going to be served at a party I'm attending. That's beyond the "above and beyond" I like to do for my friends).
Luckily, the couponing world is a bit up in arms, so it's nice to see that not everyone with a coupon insert is like this (I'm certainly not....while I do use coupons and sometimes manage to get some pretty good deals, I'm in no way a master of the game). It's just the magic of reality TV + extreme anything = good TV.
What I would love to see is one of these families living off their massive stockpile until it's gone. What happens when these extremists aren't allowed to go to the grocery store? Can they survive without their habit? This, unfortunately, probably doesn't make good TV....though it might make a good blog. If you see a "recovering extreme couponer" blog, let me know!
Have a good weekend!