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Animal Crossing taught me the dangers of time travel the hard way

It was my fault, though

An Animal Crossing human wearing all black standing in a cursed bathroom (there’s a skeleton and a bathtub) with spoiled turnips Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

On Sunday morning, I pulled all my hard-earned Bells — around 150,000 of ‘em — out of my bank account and found Daisy Mae wandering around Sears, my Animal Crossing: New Horizons island. I’ve had a hard time holding onto Bells while playing the game. In the words of Ariana Grande: I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it. But, you see, to spend money, you’ve got to have money. And that’s where the stalk market comes in.

Daisy Mae was selling turnips at 93 Bells a piece, so I maxed out the amount I could buy and hoofed it to my cursed bathroom (there’s a skeleton watching over my bathtub), where I would store my turnips. I lined them up neatly and promptly forgot about them, except for twice a day when I logged turnip prices with my coworkers here at Polygon. Unfortunately, I only got to think about them two-and-a-half days before I realized they’d spoiled. On Tuesday afternoon, a colleague over at The Verge informed me her gates were open and Timmy and Tommy were buying turnips for over 400 Bells. I rushed over to my turnip storage bathroom and that’s when I noticed it: The turnips went bad.

It made no sense! I’d just bought these turnips on Sunday! What sort of bad luck had befallen me? Surely this could not have been my fault. And then it hit me: I’d time traveled on Monday afternoon to night-time so I could try to catch a snapping turtle before I wrote this post about Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ snapping turtles. I did not catch one on this journey, and I returned to the present with no new pet and, unbeknownst to me, a crop of bad turnips.

For those unaware, time traveling spoils turnips in the same way that keeping them for too long does — especially if you time travel to a Sunday, the day Daisy Mae sells her wares. When I was resetting my Nintendo Switch’s clock, I must have time-traveled to Sunday night instead of Monday night, but apparently, traveling backward will always spoil turnips; forward won’t always, as long as you don’t hit the next Sunday.

Spoiled turnips aligned in a runway Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Needless to say, I was absolutely devastated by my stupidity. All of those Bells! They’re now just ... stinky turnips!

But as it turns out, it wasn’t a total loss. Spoiled turnips are good for one thing: They attract ants. Polygon’s resident Animal Crossing: New Horizons expert Julia Lee suggested I sell my turnips to folks looking for ants. And so, I opened my gates and waited. Here’s something I learned: Spoiled turnips are just as popular as good selling prices! A line formed as coworkers piled into my island to pick up their spoiled turnips that I’d lined up as a stinky runway.

Truly, I’m humbled by the power of ants and friendship. Everyone brought a gift and took turns bopping me on the head with a net. (I deserved it.) Who would have guessed the first time my island was this crowded was for spoiled turnips and ants? What a way to bring people together.

But still, I would not recommend this course of action. I’ve been punished for time traveling, and now I’ve learned my lesson. I’m vowing — with all of you as my witnesses — not to time travel ever again, lest I’ll be bopped endlessly with nets.

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