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Does Chocolate Go Bad? The Complete Guide

Chocolate is an extraordinary delicacy that requires great patience, care and expertise to create—from bean to bar. While chocolate in all its glory seems like it could last forever, we still ask: does chocolate go bad?

When I think about desserts, snacks, or a pick-me-up, creamy, delicious chocolate desserts are one of the first things to come to mind. 

Whether it’s melting in hot milk for hot chocolate or mixing it into flour for brownies, chocolate is a staple in many kitchens.

I just counted a few different varieties of chocolate in my pantry alone: dutch-process cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, unsweetened baking chocolate, tempered chocolate melts (I use these to make hot cocoa bombs and homemade peanut butter cups), and a brownie mix or two (or three, but who’s counting).

Chocolate is also the most widely-craved food and probably one of the world’s most commonly-stored foods. 

You might even find an old chocolate bar a few weeks or months past its date or open a fairly new one and notice that it has some little white spots. 

Then, you’ll wonder if it’s safe to eat or if it’s time to toss it in the trash.

I hate wasting food, so I often “live on the edge” when it comes to using up what I have around. It’s not always the safest way to handle food.

So my own curiosity got the better of me and I decided to do some research about whether chocolate goes bad, and when, and how to tell, and how to best store chocolate. 

Either way, learning more about chocolate should help you decide what to do with that bar. And this guide is all about it.

It’s easy to believe that chocolate will last forever. 

After all, it’s renowned for being a food that lasts for years. 

It can also be easy to ignore the chocolate in the back of your cabinet after the expiration date has passed.

But for chocolate to have a delicious taste and last as long, it’s important to determine if it goes bad, know what its shelf life is, and learn how to store it to help keep it good for as long as possible.

In this guide, I will discuss everything you need to know about chocolate, from its history to how it’s made, including how to tell if it’s gone bad, so you don’t get food poisoning from eating it. 

You’ll learn correct storing techniques and what to do with any leftover chocolate.

Chocolate growers and history and brand experts are tagged in as well, so you can get answers from the most reputable people.

Be sure to read my CookingChew tips below to keep your chocolate in top condition for as long as possible.

Have fun cooking and baking with chocolate!

Table Of Contents

What is chocolate?

Chocolate, for the purposes of this guide, is a sweet food, a confectionary solid made from cocoa beans. 

According to the World Cocoa Foundation, Americans, Europeans, and other consumers worldwide consume more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans a year.

It sounds like chocolate is the world’s favorite sweet treat, doesn’t it?

These beans come from Theobroma cacao trees, which originate from the tropical rainforest regions, and are widely distributed from southeastern Mexico to the Amazon River.

They grow best in a hot, warm climate within 20 degrees north or south of the equator. 

This is because they need a specific temperature range to develop and produce fruit.

When cacao trees bear fruit, farmers harvest the pods, scoop out the seeds and ferment them. 

The beans are then shipped to chocolate factories all over the world, where manufacturers process them to draw out flavors and remove the beans from their hulls. 

This process results in the creation of nibs, which undergo another process again to create a thick paste called chocolate liquor.

The U.S. FDA defines chocolate liquor as a solid or semisolid food produced by grinding cacao nibs. It may also be called chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, baking chocolate, or bitter chocolate.

Despite the name, this dark and milk chocolate ingredient contains neither alcohol nor vegetable fat.

Chocolate liquor, more commonly known as baking or cooking chocolate in the food industry, has a high cocoa content and contains little or zero sugar. Therefore, you can control how sweet your chocolate can be, depending on the amount of sugar you add to it when cooking.

Also, most chocolate recipes call for a small amount of added sugar. And the level of sweetness can change depending on the type of chocolate used, so to guarantee consistent results, you should read all chocolate labels carefully and use what the packaging calls for.

Does chocolate go bad?

Chocolate can go bad, yes. But there’s a difference between chocolate freshness (chocolate that tastes old or stale) and chocolate that becomes unsafe to eat (bacteria or mold). 

If you like chocolate, you probably have a piece sitting in the back of your cabinet for months or even years. You might have also wondered if it’s still safe to eat that old chocolate bar.

The good thing is that chocolate will usually last a long time. USA Today reports that even though it’s possible to get ill from eating last year’s Easter bunny, most of the time, people only get sick after eating a bar of stale chocolate that contains peanut butter, dairy, or caramel.

Just take a look at your favorite chocolate bar or candy, and you’ll see a “best by” date instead of an “expiration” date. Don’t confuse the two.

A food’s expiry date means it may not be safe to eat after that date, but only baby food has a required expiration date from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Basically, a “best by” date label on a chocolate bar wrapper means that the chocolate may not be at its peak quality and may have gone bad.

How to tell if chocolate has gone bad

If you’ve been storing chocolate in a pantry or other place, it can be hard to tell if it’s still good. This is especially true with dark chocolate because it is difficult to know whether or not it’s still edible.

Here are some ways to tell if your chocolate has gone bad:

Appearance

A good bar of chocolate should have a shiny, smooth surface with no bubbles or blemishes. Gray areas, cloudy spots, or swirls of discoloration mean that the chocolate’s past could change how the consumer sees its quality.

When chocolate blooms, white or gray film appears on the top of the chocolate. Real chocolate’s fat, which is cocoa butter, rises to the surface and forms sugar crystals there. 

This often happens when the chocolate melts and then hardens again during the creation process. Chocolate with liquid fillings, like caramel, may get chocolate bloom more often.

There are also two types of bloom:

1. Fat bloom

Fat bloom occurs when fat rises to the surface of the chocolate.

It looks like a fine powder and is light brown or white in color. Fortunately, it’s still okay to eat chocolate that has fat bloom on it. 

However, the taste and texture of the chocolate will be different. 

If that’s the case, it is easier to use the same chocolate as an ingredient in baking or drinking instead of eating it straight from the wrapper.

2. Sugar bloom

If chocolate is exposed to any water activity, a granular white substance called sugar bloom might form.

Sugar bloom on chocolate is still safe to eat, although the surface will feel rough or gritty, and the flavor may be different as the sugar will touch the tongue sooner than the rest of the chocolate.

White chocolate is the most likely type of chocolate to bloom when exposed to heat and moisture. So, to keep the original chocolate’s appearance, store it in a cool and dry place.

Smell

If a bar of chocolate is of high quality, whether it’s milk or dark, it should smell like cocoa, while white chocolate should smell like cocoa butter or fresh vanilla.

If the chocolate smells sour, like “nothing” or has any unpleasant odor, consider it unusable and throw it away.

Taste

The chocolate produced with cocoa butter feels smooth and velvety in the mouth. Although it’s hard to describe, it’s easy to recognize how it feels.

When doing a chocolate taste test, let a small piece melt on the tongue to get a full sense of the flavor. 

Observe how the chocolate feels as it melts in your mouth and how long the taste lingers after you swallow it. 

Good chocolate won’t disappear quickly but should remain for several minutes after finishing it.

Also, take note that if you leave unwrapped chocolate bars out of their wrappers, they can absorb the smells and flavors of the room they are in, which will change the way the chocolate tastes.

(I once left several Hershey Kisses in a dish with a lavender drawer sachet for several weeks. Let’s just say that the artificially perfumey scent and aftertaste combined with the chocolate was not pleasant. And they were still wrapped in their tinfoil.)

This doesn’t mean the chocolate bar is bad. It’s just that it won’t taste as rich as pure cocoa does. 

It’s still edible, but you’ll need to find a better way to store it if you want to keep your chocolate tasting its best.

Texture

To test the quality of chocolate, break it in half. If it has a crisp snap, it is probably still in good condition for eating and cooking, though if you know it’s been around a while, the taste may still be a bit stale.

White and milk chocolate bars have a softer snap than dark or semi-sweet chocolate because of their higher fat content.

How is chocolate made?

Chocolate is a very popular food around the world. 

It has a long history and fans all over the world, but not many people know about the long and complicated process it takes to make.

From harvesting to tempering to wrapping, making chocolate takes a lot of careful steps that give it a unique flavor.

To better understand how chocolate is made, I’ll walk you through the step by step process that begins with the planting of cacao trees.

Step 1: Harvesting

The first step to chocolate making is to find good beans.

The flavor of the chocolate depends a lot on how the beans were grown and how they were processed at the cacao farm. 

Especially how and for how long the freshly picked beans are fermented makes a big difference in how the flavor develops. 

But other things, like rain, temperature fluctuations, the type of soil, and how the beans are dried, also affect their taste.

The beans are harvested by pulling ripe pods from trees and opening them. 

Most of the time, a machete is used to harvest the pods, and great care must be taken not to damage the flower cushion on the tree so that more pods can be produced in the future.

Step 2: Fermenting

When the pods are opened, the beans ferment. Extra liquid can drain from beans and pulp and place in banana leaves or wooden boxes with holes. 

The temperature increases while the beans are stirred. 

Depending on the variety of beans, this process might take from two to nine days.

Step 3: Drying and Shipping

After the fermentation process, the beans have a lot of water on them, which needs to be taken away so that they don’t get too old and lose their flavor. 

After the beans are dry, they are sorted and put in bags before being sent to makers all over the world.

Step 4: Roasting cacao beans and preparing cocoa liquor

The next step for people who make chocolate is to roast the dried cacao beans. 

The roasting process is important for flavor development, but it also reduces the amount of water in the food and kills any bacteria that might be hiding.

First, the nibs (the “meat” of the bean) are separated from the shells using a process called “winnowing.”

The nibs are then ground finely to make cocoa mass or cocoa liquor, which is solid at room temperature. 

When a lot of pressure is put on this paste, it creates two things: cacao powder and cocoa butter.

Step 5: Grinding and conching chocolate

“Conching” requires rolling, kneading, heating, and airing. A conche stirs and smoothes the hot mixture.

This stage is crucial for producing pure, exquisite premium chocolate. 

Here, scent and flavor are finalized. 

Some chocolatiers add sugar, milk, or vanilla during conching. This stage might also take two hours to two days.

Step 6: Tempering and molding chocolate

In this step, tempering means raising and lowering the temperature of the chocolate. 

Without this process, chocolate would not have the shine and “snap” of a finished bar. It would also be dull and crumbly.

Tempering can be done manually or with a machine called a tempering machine.

After tempering the chocolate, it’s poured into the mold and tapped to remove air bubbles. 

Craft chocolate makers often do this by hand, but larger companies usually use machines to speed up the process.

Step 7: Wrapping chocolate

Once the chocolate has cooled and set, it’s tested for quality. 

The finished bar is wrapped in foil or paper and labeled with the best before date and ingredients information to keep it fresh. 

From bean to bar, the chocolate is ready to be consumed.

What are the types of chocolate?

It is true that there are three basic types of chocolate: dark, milk, and white. But there are other kinds as well.

Chocolate is made up of different amounts of cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, sugar, and milk. 

And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has specific rules about the amounts and names of ingredients in cocoa products.

However, chocolate made and/or sold in countries other than the U.S. may have different ingredients.

Here are the different types of chocolate:

1. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is produced by mixing cocoa butter or another fat with sugar and chocolate liquor. And according to the U.S. FDA regulation, dark chocolate must contain at least 35 percent chocolate liquor.

Additionally, dark chocolate gives off a range of flavors depending on how much cocoa it contains. It’s sweet, with hints of cocoa, brownie, and fruitiness (like cinnamon or allspice).

It is also ideal for making chocolate bars, truffles, candies, and baking since it tastes mostly like pure chocolate.

Here is our list of Dark Chocolate Dessert Recipes!

2. Milk chocolate

Milk chocolate is often recognized as the most popular type of chocolate because of its light brown color, creamy texture, and sweet flavor.

It is made by adding sugar and milk powder or condensed milk to cocoa butter and cocoa liquor.

Manufacturers also use this kind of chocolate to make candy bars and other sweet chocolate products that are eaten alone.

3. White chocolate

White chocolate is easy to recognize because of its cream or ivory color. 

Unlike other types of chocolate, it does not have any chocolate liquor or cocoa solids. However, it contains sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, vanilla, and lecithin, an emulsifier that helps the ingredients blend.

White chocolate is typically sweet, with bold notes of sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

4. Semi-sweet chocolate

Semi-sweet chocolate is basically dark chocolate with low sugar content. 

Like bittersweet chocolate, it must have at least 35 percent chocolate liquor, according to the U.S. FDA regulation. But usually, 35 to 45 percent of chocolate liquor is in semi-sweet chocolate.

5. Bittersweet chocolate

Bittersweet chocolate, often referred to as extra-dark chocolate, is chocolate liquor plus sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla.

Usually, bittersweet chocolate has less sugar than semi-sweet chocolate, but the terms bittersweet and semisweet are used interchangeably.

Depending on what kind of cacao is grown, bittersweet chocolate can taste very different. Some types are fruity or taste like roasted coffee beans, while others taste like baked brownies.

6. Ruby chocolate

Ruby chocolate was discovered in 2017 by a Belgian chocolate maker, Barry Callebaut. It is made from 47.5 percent cacao content and 26.3 percent milk and has flavors of intense fruitiness and fresh sour notes.

And with its reddish-pink color, this chocolate is a noticeably eye-catching pink, much different from other chocolates. It’s actually a color produced from the ruby cocoa bean, a variety local to Ecuador, Brazil, and the Ivory Coast.

Since Barry Callebaut’s patented process for making cacao is a trade secret, and since this is a fairly new discovery, there is no standard FDA definition of ruby chocolate.

What is the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate?

For chocolate lovers, it’s important to know that milk and dark chocolates are very different despite both being made from cocoa beans. 

Each kind has a distinct flavor, texture, and personality. And since these two are so unique, they are best paired with different flavors.

The main difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate is that milk solids aren’t added to dark chocolate.

And since dark chocolate has a high percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter, it has a richer and bitter taste. It also melts easier than white chocolate at room temperature.

Milk chocolate, on the other contrary, contains a lower amount of these components in its makeup and adds milk powder. Therefore, milk chocolate has a creamier and sweeter taste than dark chocolate.

Is white chocolate really chocolate?

It is easy to assume that white chocolate isn’t really chocolate because it doesn’t contain chocolate solids. Still, according to the technical definition, white chocolate most certainly qualifies as “chocolate.”

First off, the outdated U.S. FDA Standard of Identity stated that a “chocolate” product must only include cacao, sugar, and, for milk chocolate, milk. It also required chocolate to have chocolate liquor and pure dark chocolate solids that give its rich deep robust flavor.

Because of this guideline, white chocolate was not considered chocolate for the majority of U.S. history. 

But the good news was on October 4, 2002, the FDA changed the Standard of Identity to include “white chocolate” as a legal term, finally agreeing with the chocolate makers and consumers.

To be sold as white chocolate and labeled as such, it must contain at least 20 percent of cocoa butter, 14 percent of total milk solids, 3.5 percent of milkfat, and no more than 55 percent of nutritive carbohydrate sweetener (sugar).

So, to answer the question, “Is white chocolate really chocolate?” the answer is yes, unless people are talking about a label that came out before 2002.

Can you have expired chocolate?

Chocolate can be eaten long past its expiration date, but others may not be able to handle the taste or texture of an older chocolate.

Even chocolate has a “Best Before” date, but it’s not really a deadline for when the chocolate should be eaten. It is actually the ideal length of time to eat chocolate while keeping its shape and taste.

While it’s true that chocolate is usually safe to eat, it doesn’t mean it should be consumed. 

When chocolate is stored in the wrong conditions—in particular, places that are too hot or cold or exposed to dust or moisture—some or all of its qualities can change, altering its color, taste, and texture. This can be upsetting for some people.

One example is when the white coating on a chocolate’s surface appears. Some people assume that it is mold or the start of bacterial growth. 

But this phenomenon is known as “fat bloom,” and according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, it’s harmless.

So, eating expired chocolate probably won’t make you sick, but the taste may not be as good as when you first buy it.

And often, the chocolate we eat contains many other ingredients other than chocolate:

  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Caramel
  • Dairy
  • Sugary centers like nougat

So these other ingredients can create issues for the enjoyment and/or safety of your chocolate. It’s good to thoroughly check out opened or chocolate with unknown origins and storage.

What happens if I eat bad chocolate?

Even though most chocolate bars can go bad and taste different from fresh chocolate, eating a bad chocolate bar probably won’t make you sick as it would if you ate something rotten like old beef or moldy fruit.

Chocolate is generally safe to eat after its “best before” date. However, this depends on the ingredients of your chocolate and your references.

For example, it’s best to eat fresh-cream truffles (chocolate with fresh cream) as soon as possible because the cream will go bad within a few days. That is because chocolates that use fresh ingredients usually go bad within a few days of purchase.

And since chocolate usually contains no water, which is prone to bacterial growth, it doesn’t go off like many other foods.

As bacteria can’t live in chocolate, chocolates don’t have a use-by date. So, even if a bloom forms on a chocolate bar or smells unpleasant, it will probably still be safe to eat.

How long does chocolate last?

Chocolate has a very long shelf life because of the flavonoid compound, which helps reduce oxidation. However, the shelf life still depends on the type of chocolate and storage conditions.

Chocolates usually last between 18 months to 2 years when unopened. 

But most packaging technologists suggest the following recommendation to keep chocolates of their good quality:

Chocolate CategoryTemperate ConditionsTropical Conditions
Milk Chocolate16 months12 months
Dark Chocolate24 months24 months
White Chocolate16 months12 months
Fondant-cream-filled Chocolates18 months12 months
Chocolates with Nuts or Cereal-centered, etc.12 months9 months

(Blommer; Stauffer, M.; 2007)

The table above shows how long certain products should last if they are sealed well and kept in a dark place. If you’re going to buy new products, you can also use this information as a guide.

Homemade chocolate doesn’t last as long due to the lack of preservatives, but it will keep for about a week at room temperature and only three to five days in the refrigerator.

How to store chocolate

Here are some steps and tips for storing chocolate:

You only need to keep it at an ideal temperature, away from odors, out of direct sunlight, and in a dry environment.

Here’s a list of the items you’ll need for storing chocolate:

  • Chocolate
  • Zipper bag, foil, cellophane, or wax paper
  • Air-tight container

Instructions for storing chocolate:

  1. Rewrap your chocolate tightly in its original wrapping, if possible. If unavailable, wrap tightly in a zipper bag (with air squeezed out), foil, cellophane or wax paper.
  2. Then place in an airtight container. Remember, air is the enemy of freshness.
  3. Store chocolate in a cool, dry area and away from a warm and/or humid environment.
  4. Keep the chocolate out of direct sunlight and away from any strong artificial light for long periods. 
  5. Store chocolate bars for up to a year wrapped tightly, away from insects, air, and sunlight.

Tips for storing chocolate

The ideal place to store chocolates would be in a cool, dry, odor-free place between 55° and 70°F with 60 to 70 percent relative humidity.

The following are also some other tips to keep chocolate’s best quality:

  1. DON’T STORE IT IN THE REFRIGERATOR LONG-TERM, if at all possible. Chocolate absorbs refrigerator odors quickly. Moisture in the refrigerator can also cause a “sugar bloom.” This doesn’t affect much of the taste, but it doesn’t look very good. So, instead of a refrigerator, keep chocolate in a covered, dry, cool spot.
  2.  Keep chocolate in a clean, bug-free place.
  3.  Avoid letting chocolate sit near any sources of light—not just sunlight but also lights that come from inside the house. Both types of light can cause chocolate to taste bad in the same way oxygen does.
  4.  Avoid placing chocolates near other flavored foods because their flavors might blend together.

Can you freeze chocolate?

As a general rule, freezing can extend chocolate’s shelf life by 50 percent or more (roughly six months to a year).

To store chocolate in the freezer, here are the items you’ll need:

  • Heavy-duty plastic freezer bag
  • Original chocolate packaging

Follow the instructions below for storing chocolate in the freezer:

  1. Place the original chocolate box in a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag.
  2. Seal it tightly and then freeze it for up to 18 months for the best quality.

Once you’re ready to eat your frozen chocolate, all you have to do is let it thaw.

To thaw chocolate, just follow these steps:

  1. Transfer only the chocolate you plan to eat into the refrigerator.
  2. Wait 24 hours, then take it out of the refrigerator.
  3. Let chocolate warm up to room temperature before you unwrap it. (It is best to eat chocolate at room temperature.)

Is chocolate bad if it has white on it?

Not necessarily; in fact, it’s usually safe to eat, even though the texture might be odd or not what you are used to. 

Chocolate bloom is often mistaken for mold. But in reality, a lack of moisture prevents mold from forming on chocolate.

Chocolate blooms when cocoa butter forms a white film around it. This chocolate, however, is safe to eat. But blooming may make it seem less fresh-tasting.

This quality also determines how long chocolate will last.

There is no magic date when chocolate has “gone bad,” but as the cocoa butter separates from the chocolate (or blooming occurs), its taste, texture, and look will worsen.

Should I keep chocolate in the fridge?

According to experts, it’s not a good idea to keep chocolate in the refrigerator unless the room is very warm.

If a chocolate bar is still in its original packaging and has not been exposed to heat or humidity, it can be kept in a refrigerator for months without losing its taste or texture.

But if the packaging is opened, it is advisable to store the chocolate in an airtight container that prevents it from absorbing foreign odors.

It is also best not to eat chocolate that has been refrigerated for more than a few hours. Instead, let it come to room temperature first. It will taste much better if you do that.

Ways to use leftover chocolate

If you’re like most people, you buy a bag of chocolate and finish it before the month (or day) is over.

Whether you want to make sure those leftovers don’t go to waste or if you simply want to stretch out your supply of chocolate, there are plenty of ways to use up your leftover chocolate.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Turn your leftover milk chocolate candy bars into decadent and easy-to-make brownie bars.
  2. Shave it onto a chocolate malt shake!
  3. If you have an opened bag of white chocolate chips, whip up a batch of these crunchy and chewy churro white chocolate chip cookies.
  4.  Leftover semi-sweet chocolate (or a combination of different kinds of chocolate) makes this sweet, salty, crunchy chocolate bark.
  5.  Choose from these 11 truffle recipes that can use up your bag of chocolate chips for a tasty luscious treat.
  6.  Satisfy your craving with this rich, creamy, and smooth chocolate martini drink made up of chopped chocolates and chocolate liqueur. It’s best enjoyed after dinner.

A brief history of chocolate

The terminology can be a little hard to understand. Still, experts use “cacao” to refer to the plant or its beans before processing. In contrast, “chocolate” refers to anything made from these beans.

And “cocoa” is generally used to refer to chocolate in powdered form, although it can also refer to the British term for cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made.

The English term chocolate comes from the Aztec word xocoatl, which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. 

On the other hand, the Latin name for the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao, which translates as “food of the gods.”

Olmec chocolate drink

Experts have found traces of theobromine (an ingredient found in chocolate and tea) in pots and vessels used by the Olmecs around 1500 B.C.

The Olmecs may have also utilized cacao to make a ceremonial drink. 

However, since they left no recorded history, there are different theories on whether they used cacao beans or only the pod’s pulp in their concoctions.

The Mayan chocolate

The Mayan civilization in Central America was influenced by the Olmecs, who taught them about cacao. The Mayans not only ate chocolate, but they also worshiped it. 

According to their written history, the Mayans used chocolate drinks during celebrations and to close important deals.

The Mayans thought that cacao was a gift from the gods, so they used chocolate in religious ceremonies and as a gift for the dead. 

Wealthy Mayans drank chocolate beverages with foam, while commoners consumed chocolate in a dish that looked like cold porridge.

Chocolate as the Aztec currency

The Aztecs used cocoa beans as barter for trade with the Mayans around the 15th century. 

Cocoa beans were so valuable at that time that one could buy a turkey hen or a hare for 100 beans.

The Aztec people also claimed chocolate as a gift from the god Quetzalcoatl and drank it as a tasty treat, an aphrodisiac, and even to get ready for battle.

Chocolate reaches Europe

It is not certain when chocolate came to Spain, but it was believed that Cortés (A Spanish national) discovered chocolate during an expedition to the Americas. 

When he returned home, he introduced cocoa seeds to the Spanish. From there, Spanish chocolate was developed and mixed with sugar and honey to sweeten the naturally bitter taste.

Chocolate slowly reached France and later on to Britain.

In 1828, the chocolate press was invented, changing forever the way chocolate was made. The tool could squeeze cocoa butter fats out of roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a fine cocoa powder.

After that, the powder was mixed with liquids and poured into a mold, where it hardened into a bar of chocolate that could be eaten.

And that was the beginning of the modern age of chocolate.

Chocolate in America

Milton Hershey was the first person in the United States to mass-produce milk chocolate. 

Then, in the 1920s, the chocolate bar became popular. And by the end of that decade, 40,000 candy bars had been made in the U.S. The Milky Way bar was also invented and was first sold by Hershey’s in 1923.

Forrest Mars Sr. and the son of a Hershey’s executive worked together in 1941 to make the M&M candy.

In 1923, H.B. Reese started his own candy company. Five years later, he made Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which are now one of the most popular chocolates made by Hershey in the U.S.

The 21st century saw a “chocolate revolution.” It was defined by a focus on high-quality chocolate products that are handcrafted and sustainable cacao growing and harvesting. 

Major corporations like Hershey’s have also extended their artisanal chocolate lines by buying Scharffen Berger and Dagoba, while individual chocolatiers continue to thrive.

8 fun facts about chocolate

  1. When chocolate is between 86°F and 90°F, it begins to melt. This is much lower than the average body temperature of 98.6°F, which is one of the main reasons why chocolate melts so easily in your hand.
  2. Smelling chocolate makes theta brain waves go up, which also triggers relaxation or calming effect. 
  3. The average serving of milk chocolate contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaffeinated coffee.
  4. Dark chocolate can help you fall asleep faster
  5. Cacao beans were once used as a currency
  6. The United States military asked Hershey to make a special chocolate bar for troops. 
  7. Dark chocolate can help fight tooth decay, cavities, and plaque.
  8.  In the United States, white chocolate must contain 20% cocoa fat to be considered “chocolate.”

The bottom line

Chocolate is one of the most highly consumed foods in the world.

Widely available from street vendors or specialty shops, chocolate is often eaten as candy but is used in many other products such as cakes and brownies, ice cream, cookies, bread, pastries, and occasionally as a topping for desserts.

It’s even used in savory drinks like unsweetened atolé (Mexican savory hot chocolate) and spicy chicken molé, a rich, savory, unsweet chocolate gravy.

While chocolate takes a long time to go bad, it is still important to know the two main factors that affect its shelf life: storage and temperature.

The biggest factor is proper storage. Air is the enemy of freshness.

Ideally, you should store your chocolate tightly closed so pests can’t reach it, kept in a cool, dry place with a relatively constant temperature and little exposure to light.

Regardless, keeping it in a container with a tight lid rather than one with a gap (so if your bag of M&Ms is open, clip it tightly shut or transfer them to a zipper bag) will help slow the degradation process.

The temperature of chocolate has a great effect on its shelf life, too, with higher temperatures shortening the time a chocolate product can be stored.

The next time you’re planning on eating some chocolate, remember that a few things can go wrong if you don’t take care of your bar properly. 

So, make sure to follow this guide to keep your chocolate as fresh as possible for a long time.

Does Chocolate Go Bad? Storage, Tips & More

Does Chocolate Go Bad? Storage, Tips & More

Here’s our epic guide + steps for storing chocolate.

Ingredients

  • Chocolate
  • Zipper bag, foil, cellophane, or wax paper
  • Air-tight container

Instructions

  1. Rewrap your chocolate tightly in its original wrapping, if possible. If unavailable, wrap tightly in a zipper bag (with air squeezed out), foil, cellophane or wax paper.
  2. Then place in an airtight container. Remember, air is the enemy of freshness.
  3. Store chocolate in a cool, dry area and away from a warm and/or humid environment.
  4. Keep the chocolate out of direct sunlight and away from any strong artificial light for long periods. 
  5. Store chocolate bars for up to a year wrapped tightly, away from insects, air, and sunlight.

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