2490: Pre-Pandemic Ketchup

 Pre-Pandemic Ketchup Title text: I wonder what year I'll discard the last weird food item that I bought online in early 2020.

Explanation

This comic is another in a series of comics related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just like 2474: First Time Since Early 2020, Randall compares the pre-pandemic life and the post-pandemic life in this comic. Life has changed dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns and restrictions by governments around the world.

In this comic, Cueball bought a bottle of ketchup before the pandemic and they have not bought that kind of ketchup since, possibly due to supply chain disruptions or that brand not being available to order online. It may be a reference to the shortage of ketchup packets caused by an increase in takeout orders and restaurants replacing the ketchup bottle on the table with single serving units[dubious]. Cueball is now cleaning out his cupboard, perhaps as a form of "pandemic spring cleaning" to make way for the future, and considers throwing it away. An offscreen character encourages him to toss it.

In the title text, Cueball (or possibly Randall) is wondering in which year he would discard the last weird food item that he bought online in early 2020. If he's going for the Expiration Date High Score to beat 24.3, he should probably wait until 2045 or so.

Transcript

[Cueball is standing in a kitchen, looking at bottle with label which he is holding in his hand. He is talking to a person off-panel behind him, who replies. There is a cupboard above him, with stuff protruding from the shelves. Below that is a counter, with a drawer and a cupboard. There is an bottle with fluid, a can and a jar on top. Only the latter two has labels.]
Cueball: Oh wow, pre-pandemic ketchup!
Cueball: We haven't bought this kind since before.
Cueball: I'm gonna toss it.
(off-screen): Eww, yes.
[Caption below the panel:]
Spring 2020 forms a weird dividing line in my kitchen.

Discussion

is this cueball or randall? 173.245.54.235 15:47, 16 July 2021 (UTC)Bumpf

It's Randall writing pandemic comics (which aren't nearly as funny or quirky as some of his earlier work). I wouldn't mind it so much if he somehow included the more nerdy/geeky aspects (like maybe something to do with the genome, or with computer science, etc.). 127.0.0.1 16:34, 16 July 2021 (UTC)
What's with the weird signature? If you really want to be localhost, I don't think there's anything to stop you registering 127․0․0․1 as a username, but manually entering a signature with a link to the wrong contributions page is a little weird. Angel (talk) 10:39, 17 July 2021 (UTC)

i don't get it. ketchup keeps basically forever. i'd consider a bottle from early 2020 practically fresh. 162.158.92.182 19:58, 16 July 2021 (UTC)

I don' think the issue is "freshness", but that Cueball panic bought a "new" or "strange" brand, that they no longer are interested in trying or eating. Compare to the title text "discard the last weird food item". 172.70.98.2 20:53, 16 July 2021 (UTC)
Ketchup keeps basically forever when refrigerated. Not everybody does that (though I do). 108.162.245.222 07:31, 17 July 2021 (UTC)
A bottle of ketchup costs what – maybe two dollars, three dollars tops?  For that sort of money, it ain't worth taking the chance. Pitch it out and replace it. RAGBRAIvet (talk) 05:53, 18 July 2021 (UTC)
Good ketchup costs four, plus a trip to the store or shipping, and stays better than average ketchup for over a decade if kept cool. A mere 1.5 years? Only worth it if the power went out so long that your fridge warmed up. 162.158.106.4 16:34, 18 July 2021 (UTC)
I would agree that it should be tossed if, and only if, (1) they had opened the bottle pre-pandemic, and (2) it had been left unrefrigerated this entire time (plausible since he appears to be standing in front of a cabinet instead of a fridge.) Otherwise yeah, there's enough vinegar in ketchup that it's probably fine; mustard and hot sauce don't even need refrigeration. (Though I do prefer cold mustard.) --mezimm 108.162.221.78 15:37, 19 July 2021 (UTC)
"ketchup keeps basically forever" not according to my ketchup bottle. Bought it a month ago, and it says it's ready to expire in 11 more. 172.68.132.157 07:37, 23 July 2021 (UTC)
The relationship between a product's unrefrigerated shelf life and the claim on the product's label is not straightforward. For many products, it is extremely common to claim product lifetimes that are far shorter than the actual lifetimes, both to be conservative (safety) and for more insidious reasons (planned obsolescence leads to more sales). In the specific case of ketchup, the anecdotal experience of many is that it lasts a very long time, even unrefrigerated. JohnHawkinson (talk) 08:54, 23 July 2021 (UTC)

I even have pre-apprenticeship sugar sprinkles. And I'm currently in my third job. Fabian42 (talk) 21:48, 16 July 2021 (UTC)

My reading of it is that they once might have bought that brand (maybe regularly, maybe as a 'try it and see'), and yet for some reason (perhaps through a combination of other people panic buying in the early days, later on just rushing in and out of stores with what is truly wanted, any online/curb-pickup options being more limited or just less compulsive buying without lingering by those oh-so-attractive "end of shelf" consumer-trap displays) it was not bought again as various degrees of lockdowns hit. (It also seems not to have suffered the fate of "we haven't had a proper shop in days, how about if we combine our last tin of soup with those cornflakes and further drench it with whatever random sauces we can find?" first-world-problem desparation. Maybe it was just too far back in the cupboard, crushed behind the tons of panic-bought toiletroll/etc?). Whatever the full implications of its existence, there's clearly no nostalgia for it. Or a new favourite has been adopted after discovering it as a promoted item by the online shopping site, and this older and less exciting ketchup just aint gonna cut the mustard any more? ...but there's a lot of "if"s and "or"s and "maybe"s in my interpretation, and I have no confidence I'm consistently, or even partially, interpretting it as it was intended to be. 141.101.98.152 22:03, 16 July 2021 (UTC)

Is it worth mentioning that this appears to be the very kitchen from 2178: Expiration Date High Score? Nitpicking (talk) 02:18, 17 July 2021 (UTC)

Not the same kitchen - upper cabinet has shelves here (vs. door there). Lower cabinet has door and drawer that stick out (vs. just a drawer pull in High Score). 172.69.63.139 19:02, 17 July 2021 (UTC)

Covid-19 post-desease side affect is change of taste. Certainly things with Sauer taste like pickles and ketchup will teste totally different than before covid-19 illnesses. Typical before you liked them a lot, and now they taste totally different and awful. 172.69.54.225 11:36, 17 July 2021 (UTC)

Your taste is affected post-Covid? I didn't know taste had the ability to display emotions. 162.158.107.233 19:35, 17 July 2021 (UTC)
Yeah you can make fun of people that have a hard time write perfect. But you could also look at the thing he is trying to say, and help people understand the impact. It's very simple, some people that had the Corona illness have as a result changed perception of gasses and flavors coming into their senors. For example they can taste different ingredients in Pepsi Max separate, and pickles and milk chocolate that they loved before now appear to them as aweful tasting products. I think this should be part of this XKCD explained. 141.101.105.124 18:56, 18 July 2021 (UTC)
"...a hard time to write perfectly." (Good points, that I might have expressed myself, but if the lack of the "-ly" wasn't satire then it deserves a good-natured ribbing for. Consider this it.) 141.101.99.94 08:45, 19 July 2021 (UTC)
There is bias in reporting changes in taste. People who didn't like pickles before probably won't try them after so we may never find out if there are shifts in the other direction. Time to encourage people to eat pickles, for science. 172.69.63.58 18:09, 19 July 2021 (UTC)

I wonder if this cartoon is also a play on catch up? There are many things which have been postponed or slowed down by the pandemic response. For instance, medical procedures (elective surgeries, cancer screening, routine immunizations, dental cleanings) delayed because providers were busy or from fear of exposure, also large gatherings (e.g., weddings). 172.69.62.9 19:13, 17 July 2021 (UTC)