The Shelf Life of Your Favorite Treat, M&Ms

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 12th, 2023

M&Ms aren’t just colorful candies but timeless treats cherished across generations. But have you ever paused to consider how long M&Ms last, or the best way to keep them fresh? This comprehensive guide delves into everything you need to know about the shelf life of M&Ms, crucial storage tips, and even creative ways to use them when they’re nearing their expiration. Let’s get started!

How Long Do M&Ms Actually Last?

M&Ms are renowned for their longevity, a feature that makes them an enduring choice among candy lovers. As per the official Hershey website, an unopened bag of M&Ms can stay good for as much as two years if kept in its original packaging. On the flip side, an opened bag will remain edible for approximately six months if stored appropriately.

"Tambov, Russian Federation - August 26, 2012: M&M's candy. M&M's produced by Mars, Incorporated."

Storage Conditions and Shelf Life

The durability of M&Ms is highly dependent on how well you store them. Although the packaging indicates an expiration date, your M&Ms can taste as good as new even three months beyond that, given the right conditions. For longevity, it’s advisable to place them in a spot that is dry, dark, and cool.

Refrigeration: An Extra Layer of Preservation

In some instances, you might find it necessary to refrigerate your M&Ms. Doing so extends their shelf life to around 12 months beyond the ‘best by’ date. However, it’s essential to indulge in them before they reach their expiration period to enjoy their optimal taste.

Factors That Affect M&M Quality

Understanding what factors can affect the longevity of your M&Ms can go a long way. Keep them at bay from elements such as heat, moisture, and light. Also, the type of filling can influence their shelf life. For example, M&Ms filled with chocolate tend to spoil quicker compared to those with peanut or mint fillings. Store your candies in a tightly sealed container to give them the best chance at a long life.

Pro Storage Tips: Keeping Your M&Ms Fresh

Proper storage is your best bet against spoilage and for ensuring your M&Ms remain delightful for the long haul. Airtight containers are your best friend in this endeavor, along with avoiding exposure to direct sunlight. A temperature-stable environment is equally crucial. If you’re unsure of the temperature conditions, you might want to invest in a room thermometer to eliminate any guesswork.

Don’t Mix Flavors and Odors

If you love foods with strong odors, remember that these can permeate through your M&Ms and alter their taste. For instance, storing your M&Ms near onions or garlic is a no-go.

The Timeline for Unopened M&M Packages

The shelf life of an unopened M&M package varies depending on the type. For example, chocolate-filled M&Ms will have a different timeline compared to mint-filled ones. However, with optimal storage conditions, you can expect them to last between 6-12 months beyond the mentioned ‘best by’ date.

Opened Packages: The Countdown Begins

Once an M&M package is opened, its lifespan can decrease dramatically if not properly stored. Ensuring they are tightly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place can maintain their quality for up to three months past the due date.

Signs Your M&Ms Have Gone Bad

If you’re curious about how to determine if your M&Ms are past their prime, look for changes in color, odor, and taste. Should you observe any of these signs, it’s best to discard them immediately to avoid any potential health risks.

Culinary Adventures with M&Ms

Cooking with M&Ms isn’t just fun; it’s a great way to add an extra oomph to your favorite recipes. They work wonders in baked goods like cookies and brownies and can also be a colorful and crunchy addition to salads or cereal bars.

Creative Ideas for Near-Expired M&Ms

If your M&Ms are fast approaching their expiration date, you can still make the most of them. From adorning cakes and cookies to participating in science experiments like melting M&Ms, the possibilities are limitless. Another excellent idea is incorporating them into homemade granola bars or trail mixes. And let’s not forget the classic: a generous sprinkle over your go-to ice cream flavor.

By now, you should have a well-rounded understanding of how to best handle the shelf life and storage of M&Ms. Armed with this knowledge, go ahead and enjoy these delightful candies, whether straight from the bag or as a tasty addition to your culinary creations.


Editorial Staff

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