Ever wondered whether candies expire? We all have our favourite types of candies that we like to stock. Maybe you’re the friend everyone gives their licorice jelly beans to, or maybe you’re the kind who prefers sour worms, or salt water taffy. Whatever category you fit into, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with a little candy history, and more importantly, the various shelf lives of your favourite candies to ensure you’re eating them at their best.
Let’s commence with a quick rundown of the various forms of candy. In this broad list we include candy corn, marshmallows, chewing gum, chocolate bars, and even truffles. Chocolate also fits perfectly into the candy category. Candy is any tiny treat that’s mostly sugar.
Also referred to as sweets or lollies, we learn that various cultures draw different distinctions between something snacked on between meals, and something enjoyed as after dinner desserts. Take for example Western cultures who deem the syrup-soaked pastry, baklava, as being a dessert that’s served on a plate and can be eaten with cutlery. In the Middle East, North Africa, and even parts of Eastern Europe it’s considered a candy and only eaten with fingers. Kind of reminds us of the early ice cream sandwiches that, at one point, people ate with a knife and fork!
Another aspect of candy we often overlook is its use as a medicine. Think lemon and honey flavoured lozenges for sore throats. Prior to this, candy played a significant role in aiding digestion. Consider the medieval period, when access to fresh and balanced food was a significant challenge. What did they do? In an effort to combat indigestion, we saw the introduction of banquet candies, which were created from digestive aids such as ginger, aniseed, and cloves, all dipped in sugar syrup. A luxury only afforded to the rich.
Eventually, kids cottoned on to the sugary coatings on medicinal lozenges. When they began spending their own pocket money on it, this is when companies started marketing toward children.
The Industrial Revolution introduced packaging in the form of reusable wrappers. This to not only contain the taste and aroma, but to act as a barrier to unwanted moisture and dirt. This was useful for something with such a long shelf-life. These best-before dates are generally concerned with preserving the best taste, texture, and form. And when it comes to the lifespan of our candies, the National Confectioners Association recommend the following:
If you’re anything like us, chances are that candies do not survive for a long time in your pantry. Have you been sitting and nursing it? You better tuck into your various types of candies sooner rather than later. You wouldn’t want your candies to expire, would you?