Does that seem like a lot of condiments for one fridge? It doesn’t to me. But for the longest time, it did to my husband. He was always like: “Why do you need so many condiments?” and “I can’t find anything in the fridge because it’s so filled with your condiments.” and “Haven’t you had this jar of pickled baby prunes for a year??”
Well, as any condiment lover knows, it doesn’t matter how old something is, if there’s no mold, it’s perfectly fine to eat. Besides, who said I wouldn’t one day be in the mood to indulge in some date syrup imported from Abu Dhabi or artisanal ketchup from Williamsburg?
Only now that I know a few things about behavioral economics, I will admit that there’s another reason I hoard condiments. It’s called the endowment effect, a behavioral quirk that causes people to put a higher value on stuff they already own than stuff they don’t. The endowment effect explains why you might charge $20 for a collection of old Abba records at your garage sale, but wouldn’t pay someone else $5 for the same records at their sale. Or why you won’t reduce the price of your house even in the bowels of a recession because goddammit, it’s worth $400,000 and not a penny less. Or why, after you went to all the trouble to find curried celery pickle, you’re not getting rid of it even if it tastes like algae.
In my house, I’m the one who doesn’t like to throw anything out, while my husband hates keeping things we don’t use–”use” being a relative word, of course. In service of a harmonious house, I’ve gotten rid of a few things over the years–but my condiments, no way. And as our lives meld more and more every year, he’s become somewhat of a condiment fan himself. We now have a collection of hot sauces, for example, that rivals the bar at Chevy’s.