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The Merry Adventures of Saint Leibowitz
First word that comes to mind when I see what I see at Dollar Tree this morning.
I’m examining a small sealed cardboard box labeled “Brunswick Chicken Salad with Crackers,” which is “Ready to Eat.” Ready to eat? How could something sealed in a can, possibly for years, be Ready to Eat?
The expiration date or “Best By” date is fourteen months away. What could possibly make this food product last so long? In my refrigerator at home, this would come to look like swamp residue in a week. The manufacturer must know something I don’t know—maybe that as a consumer I’ll probably eat anything if I’m hungry enough. And today I am hungry.
OK. Let’s look at the package again. “Pre-mixed Chicken Salad (thank goodness they mixed it for me–I’m so weak from hunger and lack of willpower) Ready to Eat with Five Buttery Crackers (Ritz-like crackers…Ritzy crackers?) and Convenient Spoon.” Wow! They even thought to enclose a spoon, not realizing a truly hungry consumer will eat with fingers or even toes if desperate enough.
Oh, and the small potted-meat-size can within the box “Now has an Easy-Peel Foil Lid.” Gosh, I don’t even have to carry around a can opener for my quick snacks.
I fear reading the contents label, but I do note that the main ingredient is “Cooked Chicken.” I do hate it when the chicken is raw.
So, here I am, wanting to eat something, anything, so I can meet my deadline and get on with the day. The Bumble Bee Seafoods company of San Diego has gone to all this trouble to rescue me.
How could the contents of this can possibly taste good? Well, at least I can eat the crackers should the chicken smell funny. And, of course, I’m only wasting a dollar if nothing turns out right. And also, I don’t ever have to eat this stuff again.
I recall the large sealed Civil Defense can at my shop, retrieved unopened from a bomb shelter and manufactured to have indefinite shelf life contents. The container is more than fifty years old and the crackers within still edible, according to one of my customers who actually opened one recently.
“Dear Family, in case you find me lying in shock beneath of pile of fast-food wrappers, allow me to document the adventures leading up to this possible outcome.” That’s the note I’ll leave on my body in case things don’t work out. This little story will suffice.
Being a brave sort at times, I tear open the little box, unseal the crackers, peel back the lid and bid farewell to Saint Leibowitz, the patron saint of all post-disaster sealed food containers
© Jim Reed 2015 A.D.