Garbage Picker

Garbage Can

I remember the first time that I ate out of a garbage can. 😯 It was in the late 1940s, and Kellogg’s was trying a new marketing scheme.

Variety-Pack

Their cereals came in small and large boxes, but they began offering them in tiny, serving-size boxes. The equivalent of a large box would get you 10 or 12 of these, all wrapped together. The fronts had an H-shaped perforation. You peeled back the two cardboard wings, and did the same with the waxed-paper liner inside. You poured milk right into the box, and ate the cereal right from it.

This was one of the first “labor-saving devices.” Working mothers didn’t have bowls to wash. The extra labor and packaging material made them more expensive, so they didn’t do well in my cheap, dirt-poor little town.

Kellogg’s produced them in every flavor that they made. They also made a ‘Variety Pack”, with some of each. The tiny, independent grocery carried them for a while. It sat beside a laneway to another street. There was a garbage pail right beside – not a dumpster – nobody could afford to throw that much away. Somehow, one of the sampler packs came apart. Unable to sell it, the grocer just gathered the pieces up, and dropped it into the garbage pail beside his building.

Finally dry from his immersion in the Niagara River, yours truly was busy skulking and gallivanting around town. I approached the store by the alley, from the next street. I stopped to look in the garbage pail, and couldn’t believe it. Someone was throwing perfectly good food away. There were little boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Vim, Rice Krispies, All Bran, Shredded Wheat, Bran Flakes – several types that I’d like to try, but couldn’t afford to purchase a whole big (or small) box, in case I didn’t like them.

They were all “Good-For-You” cereals…. and all that Bran! You wouldn’t be just regular – more like steady. I don’t remember any Sugar Corn Pops, or Sugar Smacks, or Sugar Anything. Sugar hadn’t been invented yet – or perhaps it wasn’t off wartime rationing. That’s why old people like me are sour and bitter. They had nothing sugary to sweeten them up.

The pail was relatively new and clean. The bulk package cardboard was pristine. The small inner packs touched only it. I dug out most of the tiny boxes – as many as my little arms could carry, and quickly headed for home with them. I told my Mother that ‘someone was throwing them away,’ without mentioning the garbage can, and had a bowel-cleansing assortment of breakfasts for almost two weeks.

Even today, there are individuals and groups – and not just homeless people – who regularly comb supermarket dumpsters for food deemed unsalable – packaged meats, cheeses, bread products, even fruit and vegetables, past their ‘Best Before’ dates. They eat it themselves, or donate it to food banks, to be used today. It saves money, and reduces the amount going to landfill sites.

The son works a midnight shift. He leaves work at 7:30 AM, and reaches the nearby supermarket just as it opens at 8:00, to purchase a discount copy of the Toronto Sun newspaper. He has learned to look at the other discount racks. Stock that will be thrown out tomorrow, is on sale today, for 20%, 30% – 50% off. He often comes home with half-price ground beef, steaks, roasts, bread, and buns. What doesn’t become his 9:00 AM ‘midnight snacks’, or goes into his little apartment-sized freezer, often makes its way into the household larder.

Reduce Reuse Recycle! Waste not – Want not. Do you do anything like this, to aid your economy, and the Ecology?

18 thoughts on “Garbage Picker

  1. Alien Resort says:

    I remember those boxes. I think I poured milk into one once as a novelty. Then I just ate them dry, with Sugar Pops, then Sugar Smacks being my favorites.

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  2. Rivergirl says:

    I used to love those little cereal boxes as a kid! Can’t say I’ve ever garbage picked one though…
    😉

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    • Archon's Den says:

      My personal hygiene-aversion levels may be a bit lower than average, but I would seriously think before doing something like that today. Toxins, poisons, antibiotic-resistant diseases…. 😈 Hell, even deadly street drugs contaminated with even more-deadly drugs I think I’ll get my Kellogg’s fix from the supermarket – out front, not from the rear dumpster. 😯

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    We got those little boxes of cereal when I first joined the Navy. The practice then among us youth was to stab the box across the middle with the knife, bend and dump the contents into a bowl. No fumbling with the cardboard or waxed paper. With a little practice, this operation was a satisfyingly efficient small feat of violence to start the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archon's Den says:

      Young men (boys) in an enclosed tube – with sharp weapons…. What could possibly go wrong?? 😕
      I have noticed on television over the last 5 years, that more and more characters own and use knives. The females are the pleasant surprise.
      I haven’t been to a knife show in about the same time, but I was seeing the beginnings…. switchblades and Bowie knives with cute pink handles.

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  4. I’ll bet that was like finding stacks of money to you in those days. We used to eat them, although in America we had the sugary cereals. Food waste in the world is now a disgusting 30%, and it is an even more revolting 40% in America. When dad was in the Air Force, we never thought of wasting a bite of food. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to keep my personal food waste below five percent this year. I am reading a lot of labels, and I eat fruits and vegetables as soon as possible. People in other countries live on less than two dollars per day.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      You’re 20 years younger than me. Sugar had made a comeback.
      Some years ago, Rubbermaid had an ad offering storage containers for leftover food, “because the average American family throws away $2000 worth of food a year.” My wife innocently asked, “We don’t throw out $2000/year….do we?”
      She is the perfect, suggestible target for marketers. She will buy items because she’s heard them advertised, or because the packaging is attractive, or ‘just in case.’ We have a flat of 12 large cans of diced tomatoes, 10 spaghetti sauce, 35 2-quart bottles of Pepsi, 7 boxes of borax detergent – the list goes on.
      I try not to throw out too much. Most of my problem is ‘waist’, not waste, because I try to eat it, rather than toss it out. 😳

      Liked by 1 person

      • You sure do have a sharp mind for a 75-year-old. Do you take any vitamins or supplements?

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      • Archon's Den says:

        I don’t think that vitamins or supplements have much to do with my mental acuity. Both Mom and Dad were smart as a whip at 85 – but, between the wife and my doctor, I do take pills – 10 a day.
        I start the day with 9, a Costco antihistamine, because we have two Scottie dogs and three Bengal cats. The Bengals are supposed to be hypoallergenic, but…. My thyroid has slowed down, partially contributing to my excess weight, so I take a Synthroid pill. My prostate is swollen, so I take Avodart to reduce the swelling and help me pee. Increased blood flow helps it, and all my other meds work, so I take a daily maintenance dose of Cialis. Because of my vampire lifestyle – stay up all night, and sleep during the day – my doctor has me take two Vitamin D tablets. The wife insists that I take a Vitamin C tablet – because she’s convinced that it, and a rosary, will keep colds and flu away. My final morning pill is a Kirkland Naproxen pain-killer, just because. At the other end of the day, a couple of hours before bedtime, I take a prescription Vimovo, which is a double-strength Naproxen with an enteric coating, to help ease aches and aid sleep. 😳

        Liked by 1 person

      • I go to bed early and wake up early these days. I eat pumpkin seeds to help with my prostate, and they taste good too. I still have to wake up once in the evening. I also take some vitamins. I have bad allergies and asthma here in Virginia. Do people in Canada have similar issues?

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      • Archon's Den says:

        I didn’t realize that pumpkin seeds were supposed to help with prostate swelling. I used to eat them – and eat them -and eat them all the time.
        There’s a joke(?) about a new bride whose culinary skills are not broad.
        You liked beans on Monday.
        You liked beans on Tuesday.
        you liked beans on Wednesday.
        You liked beans on Thursday.
        Here it is Friday, and all of a sudden, you don’t like beans.
        When the grandson still went out on Halloween, the wife would cut a Jack-O-Lantern, and save the seeds for me. Then she got artistic and began carving two. With the daughter’s help she soon had three on the porch. The seeds from all of them were washed, soaked in brine, roasted with a little oil, and I was the only one who ever ate them. There were years when the last disappeared about the end of June, just in time for the new batch. I finally had to say NO!
        Studies “seem” to indicate that allergies and asthma are becoming more common because of the plethora of chemicals in our environment. There is no asthma in the family, but the wife, daughter, son, and grandson all have sensitivities to the Deadly Nightshade family. Sadly, that includes potatoes and tomatoes. More than a small amount of them can cause behavioral and digestive problems. 😳

        Liked by 1 person

      • My mom used to prepare them in a similar way. I just buy the shelled ones in a bag these days.

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  5. Dale says:

    We used to buy those little boxes as a treat for the boys when we went camping. Now, sadly, they have individual “bowls” which are probably more practical but way less fun.

    As for the wastage, it drives me positively nuts. Between throwing out this food instead of donating it to shelters and the not usable (weirdly shaped) fruit and veg that gets thrown out or made into juice… Seriously? Bring ‘Em on. I’ll gladly take them!

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    • Archon's Den says:

      We also watch, when we go to the Farmers’ Market, for the mutant veggies – twisted asparagus or carrots. They’re a bit more work to prepare, but a third the price. And someone actually uses them, instead of them being thrown away as unsaleable. 🙂

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  6. I try and get most of my clothes from Goodwill. If I get get coffee it’s always with a reusable cup and I carry reusable silverware in my purse. They are small things but they do add up.
    Have you seen the videos on YouTube where people go dumpster diving for not only food but also make up? It is insane to me what we throw away in this country. So much waste when there are people who can’t afford the product but would gladly use it.
    I think some companies believe that if they gave away outdated items for free they would loss business but I think it would be just the opposite. I would certainly buy from a company like that. I can afford it while so many can’t.

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  7. parkermccoy says:

    I’ve never eaten garbage or well, garbage out of a can anyway. Haha. Have I bought economy-sized products? You bet, good buddy. I do care about preserving my bank account. Ha.

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