First, I confess that I alphabetize my spices. Also, I try to buy only McCormick spices because I like their bottle design best and it makes my spices look pretty all lined up on the shelf.
OK, now that confession is over, I'll tell you how I spent an hour this evening. I went to the McCormick website and checked the age on every single one of my spices. Yeah, I'm that geeky.
Most of my spices were purchased within the last decade, and I'm OK with that. I'm not going to buy into the current marketing rage that says that all spices have to be thrown out every six months or a year or every few years. I'm not that Martha Stewartish.
However, one of my spices was from 1980. That's not a typo. My glass bottle of Cracked Black Pepper was, indeed, 27 years old. It was manufactured before Madonna's Borderline, before leg warmers, before jellies shoes. My memories of 1980 include listening to KC and the Sunshine Band, watching Erik Estrada on CHiPs, and being tormented by the biggest bully this side of the Mississippi.
How I acquired such an ancient bottle of pepper, I'm not sure. I own a pepper grinder and tend to use that whenever a recipe calls for it. So I happily tossed the bottle of rancid pepper into the trash and felt an iota better about my cooking abilities.