Are you a fan of M&M’s chocolates? If you just found a pack of M&M’s sitting around, you might want to find out do M&M’s go bad before you tear it open to share and eat.
Created in the 1940s, M&M’s gained a significant fandom from chocolate lovers worldwide.
In the 50s, imitators came out of the woodwork so the best way to ward off the fakers was to “brand” each candy with the trademark we know today: The lowercase “m.”
The colorful and tiny candy-coated chocolate discs come in different flavors these days: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, mint chocolate, mocha, chocolate almond, and raspberry almond.
They are sealed and sold in small, colored bags to retain their freshness.
Each bag contains dozens of candies.
Even though they are lovely to eat and they usually taste great, it’s good to check a few things to make sure they are still good to eat.
Most especially during Halloween, and you’ve gathered more than you can finish in one day.
Just like any kid on the block who doesn’t know what to do with their hands full of treats, at one time, you must have wondered, do M&Ms go bad?
How long can you eat them?
Are there any tell-tale signs that they’ve gone stale?
Keep reading and learn how you can tell if an M&M has gone bad.
Yes, M&M’s can go bad, especially if they are not stored properly.
And “bad” is a little subjective. The candy shell can crack with time in the open air, letting in dust or bugs. When the candy is cracked, it dries out the chocolate, and chocolate can go stale.
Story time: I had a I ❤️ NY “Big Apple” plastic container that held tiny white M&Ms that I kept on my desk for three years. Until I noticed the little candies started to form cracks, and suddenly I realized they might attract ants.
It was fun while it lasted, and I should have frozen the candies in a separate container, rather than keeping them in a non-airtight package on my desk. That said, they stayed looking pretty good for a long time, but I never ate any more after three months or so of them sitting on my desk.
Even though the apple had a lid, per se, it wasn’t enough to keep them from drying out…but it took a really long time for that to happen.
But these candy-coated chocolates do have a very long shelf life in closed packaging with room temperature conditions.
M&M’s shelf life extends significantly beyond the best-before date that you will find printed on the packaging.
The chocolate candies can last at least 12 to 18 months after the best-before date.
How to tell if M&M’s have gone bad
Milk chocolate M&M’s usually last the longest out of all the flavors.
However, other varieties and flavors can hold up well over time too, as long as they are stored correctly.
Even though they can still be enjoyed days or months after the suggested best-before date, the taste and texture of M&M’s could start to change.
Here are the three things you need to know so that you can avoid eating stale M&M’s.
- If you open the package and several of the M&M’s have cracks with the chocolate showing and the edges seem very dry, meh, it might be better to toss the package.
- If there are any white dots, it means that the chocolate inside has probably developed mold, especially if was kept in conditions that were not climate controlled. Humidity can do a lot of damage to food products.
- Give them a sniff test to check if they smell different.
- You can also bite into one to test the taste and texture, but if it really doesn’t look good, don’t bother. Trash them.
Remember that M&M’s should smell and taste like fresh chocolate.
If they give off an odd smell or have a weird taste, it’s about time to throw them out as they’re considered old M&M’s.
How long do M&M’s last?
What does the best-before date on the packaging mean?
A lot of people mistake this as an expiration date.
Now, there are a lot of foods that have expiration dates on their packaging.
However, the date on the packaging of chocolates, or in this case, M&M’s, is not that.
There is a notable difference between the best-before dates and the expiration dates.
The expiration date is imprinted on the packaging with the word “expiration” or “exp” and then a date.
This means that the food could go stale or rot right after the printed date.
Items such as milk and eggs expire, and most people do not consume them past their expiration date.
If you see an expiration date on the packaging, you can give the food a grace period of 1 to 2 days, but that’s about it.
If it is longer than two days, it is recommended not to eat them anymore.
But when it comes to food that is already past the expiration date, there are certain exceptions.
If the food is frozen, you can consume it up to 3 days after its expiration date because the freezer keeps it “fresh” the entire time.
As for the best-before date, it just means that the food is no longer of its best quality, but you can still eat them.
The best-before date on M&M’s is pretty generous.
You can keep opened M&M’s in your pantry for 18 months, even after the best-before date.
M&M’s come in different flavors, and each of them has different main ingredients.
Some flavors have a longer shelf life than others.
M&Ms are mostly made from pantry ingredients that last for a long time.
Some flavors made with peanuts also might not last that long in the pantry.
Also, take note that M&M’s can be frozen, and this could help extend their shelf life.
Once they’re in the freezer, they last a long time and can be eaten regardless of the best-before date on the packaging.
Before storing the chocolates in the freezer, make sure that they are still good.
How to store M&M’s
One of the factors that could help lengthen the shelf life of the chocolate is how it is stored.
You can put them in your drawer, inside your cabinet, in your pantry, or you can place them in a jar.
Remember to keep the chocolate away from areas that are too hot or areas that will produce moisture.
Also, before storing the chocolate, make sure that they are sealed properly.
The seal should be airtight to maintain its freshness.
Most of the packaging for chocolates will zip shut so it can be sealed, but you can always put it in a storage bag for safekeeping.
Also, the best way to extend the shelf life of chocolate candies is to freeze them.
If you put the chocolate in the freezer, you can enjoy the M&M’s for 12 more months.
But see to it that they are not stale before you put them in the freezer.
Also, use a freezer bag or an airtight container so they won’t get too hard when stored in the freezer.
Important note: whenever any food changes temperature, it may “sweat” or condensation will form on the surface. If you’ve pulled out a package of M&M’s from the refrigerator or freezer and they’ve been sealed properly, but after a few moments, you see “sweat” on them, that’s probably just water condensing on the surface because of the rapid temperature change.
Can You Freeze M&M’s?
The answer is yes, you can freeze M&M’s.
In fact, you can safely freeze the chocolate for three months up to two years, but that still depends on its ingredients.
M&M’s with crisp rice can only be stored in the freezer for three months, while dark chocolate ones can last up to two years.
Basically, the time frame for maximum storage of chocolates is very dependent on its main ingredients.
Below are the main ingredients of different M&M flavors and their shelf life.
A chocolate’s main ingredient is cocoa, and it is rich in antioxidants.
More antioxidants are present in chocolate if more cocoa is added to it.
This means there is less chance for oxygen exposure, thus making its shelf life longer.
Most milk chocolates can be stored for up to two years.
Almonds, Peanuts, And Peanut Butter
Peanuts are known to have low moisture content.
This makes them great for freezing.
Since there is a lack of moisture, there is less chance of ice crystals forming, so the texture and flavor stay the same.
M&M’s Peanuts and chocolate candies with almonds can last in the freezer for 12 months.
However, chocolates with peanut butter in them do not last that long.
This is because even though they are low in moisture content, their fat count is high.
Chocolates with high-fat content cause it to become rancid faster.
So peanut butter-based chocolates will only last up to six months inside the freezer.
Caramel’s structure is composed of water and sugar.
Caramels have sugar molecules that prevent them from fully hardening.
This means that chocolates with caramel in them need to be frozen at below zero temperature for them to successfully reach the freezing point.
This is why most caramel swirls in ice creams stay soft even after being in the freezer for so long.
Nonetheless, caramel-based chocolates are great to store in the freezer.
It can be stored for up to 12 months and retain its texture and taste.
Also, if you do decrease the temperature to adjust it to the caramel’s freezing point, you need to give it a couple of minutes to properly thaw before eating it.
Otherwise, you will end up cracking your teeth when you eat it.
Rice Crackers And Pretzels
The main ingredient of this M&M’s is rice flour.
It is often called “rice cracker,” but M&M’s maker, Mars Company, calls it “crisp rice.”
They last about three months inside the freezer.
As for pretzels, they can last up to 12 months in the freezer without affecting the taste and texture.
How to properly freeze M&M’s
As mentioned above, the ingredients in your M&M’s will determine its longevity in the freezer.
So even if they are frozen, their span of life will defer based on their ingredients.
If you decide to do this, you need to make use of an airtight container, preferably a ziplock bag.
Here’s how to do it:
- Place an opened bag of M&M’s into an airtight container or freezer bag.
- Remove as much air as possible when using a freezer-safe bag.
- Seal the bag and wrap in aluminum foil.
- Then label it with the date of package and take it to room temperature.
- Transfer the sealed candy to room temperature before moving it to the refrigerator and then freeze it. This way, you give it ample time to adjust to the changes in temperature.
The bottom line
Chocolates are known to have a long shelf life, so if you can’t finish them in one sitting, you can still store them.
The most effective way to extend the shelf life of M&M’s is by storing it properly.
Also, check the best-before date and be mindful of the room temperature.
In this way, you can keep your M&M’s longer, and you can eat them anytime.
- M&M's candy
- Airtight container, freezer bag
- Aluminum oil
- Place an opened bag of M&M's into an airtight container or freezer bag.
- If available, use aluminum foil to wrap the opened packet tightly.
- Slide the foil packet into a freezer-safe zipper bag.
- Remove as much air as possible when using a freezer-safe bag.
- Seal the bag.
- Then label it with the current date. If it isn’t already, make sure it’s at room temperature before moving to the freezer.