With any luck, I’ll be able to make a regular series out of this. If I am, it will be about applying the scientific method to real life situations.
Yesterday, I was searching for textbooks in my boxes, when I came upon two packets of Easy Mac. I knew right away that this was not the freshest stuff, since it was given to me when my roommate’s girlfriend moved to Oregon, January of 2006. After a moment’s consideration, I hypothesized that “Easy Mac doesn’t go bad.”
If uncooked, pasta will last for ages. Most sources say one or two years is the expected shelf life of uncooked pasta, but this is Kraft we’re talking about here. Sealed in plastic bags on the factory floor, I imagine these noodles will last much longer than their less industrial brethren. Also, previous observation has shown that Kraft singles mostly just harden when left out, and don’t actually lose much in terms of flavor (I was a curious child with low hygenic standards). The cheese flavor is in powder form, and so has virtually no moisture to begin with, and is also well sealed. It’s entirely possible that virtually no “food content” is present in either of these elements. Thus we form the hypothesis.
The testing stage was next, so the Easy Mac was prepared according to the instructions on the packet, and eaten. At this stage, I was forced to revise the hypothesis to “Easy Mac does not go worse.” Still edible, though, and none of it vacated immediately from either end of the digestive tract, so I chalked it up as a success for culinary experimentation.
Today, while searching to see if I had anything else hiding about, I found five more bags! I could do more testing without having to buy more Easy Mac! This time, however, I deviated from the instructions a bit. I added half the cheese powder before the water, of which I used less, and the rest shortly before finishing. It tasted much better this time, meaning I’m going to have to test it again tomorrow, and the day after to see if it’s the individual batches, or if the preparation method has an influence.
1)This is decidedly unscientific. I have no intention of going out and getting more Easy Mac, so we may never have “fresh” product to compare with. Also, three trials isn’t really much to work with. Finally, I didn’t even make an attempt at quantification of the “goodness” of the Easy Mac.
2) The only date I could find on the packages is “19 Feb 2006 XCN 14:01”. I thought this was a manufacture date (having a timestamp and all) but then I realized that this date was after my roommates girlfriend left Arizona. It must, therefore, be an expiration date, or something even more arcane. Sell by? Ship by? No clue. There appears to be a similar date on the cheese package, which reads “5167XCN 09:49” which is only interpretable (to me) as either May 16 ’07 or July 16 ’07. Not knowing what the XCN means, I’ve no clue which is more reasonable. The ’05 interpretation is certainly better for horror stories, though.
3) I never measure water when cooking this sort of thing.
4) Two packets were used for both tests, and will also be used for tomorrow’s test. Thursday’s test will be with one packet.