This might be the dumbest article I have ever written. It is about a loaf of bread I bought.

Oddly enough, my last "dumbest" article was also about bread.

I did my usual grocery shopping this week at my usual place on my usual day at my usual time. And I picked up my usual loaf of bread - with three kids of home, we go through a lot of PBJs, toast, and grilled cheese!

And I couldn't help but chuckle when I noticed the imprint on top of the bag.

Something is very strange about this loaf of bread. Look carefully. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)
Something is very strange about this loaf of bread. Look carefully. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)
Sell by: February 30th. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)
Sell by: February 30th. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)

Whoa, my bread expires on February 30th!

The last time I checked, February only has 28 days. 29 in each leap year, such as 2020 and 2024.

So does that mean my bread never expires, since the calendar will never display February 30th? Or should I presume it has already gone bad, since it does not subscribe to the universally-accepted Gregorian calendar? Or - common sense - should I just assume my loaf is actually good through the equivalent date of March 2nd?

Of course, the last one is the right answer. This is actually something that happens every year. You can find similar stories all over the internet.

Apparently, the machines that stamp "Sell By" dates on this particular brand of bread (and many other bakery and perishable items) are "dumb" devices. They don't know how many days are in each month - 28 vs. 29 vs. 30 vs. 31. Those stampers are just assigned to print a date that is a certain number of days after production. If the day number is more than 30, it rolls over to the next month. That works well in every other month - it just leads to this non-existent date oddity in February.

Also, remember that foods are assigned expiration dates as a measure of quality. Not necessarily safety. So you don't have to throw out the food on a given date. (Medicine is a different matter, of course.)

OK, enough bread talk. I'm going to go make myself a sandwich now.

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow Dan on Facebook or Twitter for your latest weather forecast updates.

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