Halloween Candy: Does It Ever Expire?

Many moms and dads will check their child’s Halloween candy to be sure it’s safe to eat. But how long will that candy last, and how much should we really eat? Best Food Facts reached out to Fadi Aramouni, PhD, professor of food science, Kansas State University, to find out what is the shelf life on Halloween candy.

What is the shelf life of Halloween candy?

Dr. Aramouni: “It depends on properties of the candy itself: how much moisture is in it and how much fat. Generally, it is very difficult for candy to spoil, due to its low moisture content, but it depends on the candy. For things like hard candy and chewing gum, there really isn’t much to worry about. If there are safety concerns with candy, it’s usually a quality issue, not an issue of expiration date.”

Dr. Aramouni recommends the following guidelines from the National Confectioners Association regarding the shelf life of various types of Halloween candy:

  • Chocolate: Dark chocolate can be kept for one to two years if wrapped in foil and stored in a cool, dark and dry place. Milk and white chocolates last no more than eight to 10 months.
  • Hard candy: Lollipops, roll candy and butterscotch candies can last up to a year when stored at room temperature or in cool, dry conditions.
  • Jellied candies: Upon opening the packaging and storing at room temperature, jellied candies can last six to nine months.
  • Gum: Most gum products can last six to nine months, as long as the packaging remains sealed.
  • Caramel: When stored properly at room temperature and away from the heat and light, caramel candy can last six to nine months — and even up to a year in some cases.

How much Halloween candy is OK to eat?

Dr. Aramouni: “Candy is full of empty calories, and people need to eat candy in moderation. We are also concerned about the effects of the sugar related to the development of cavities. If people eat one or two pieces of candy per day, it would be OK. But any more than that causes concern. My kids are limited to one or two pieces per day. If kids eat too much candy, the sugar will make them feel full, and the glucose level can affect satiety. More than anything, kids need to eat nutritious foods. And remember, it is OK to throw away old candy. Don’t feel compelled to eat it – it’s mostly empty calories, after all.”

What kind of Halloween candy are you handing out at your house?

Dr. Aramouni: “We will be handing out fun-sized chocolate bars – the kind with wafers.”

Will you hand out Halloween treats? If so, what kind?