Candy bar at a wedding reception featuring Jolly Ranchers.
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Do Jolly Ranchers Expire?

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If you love Jolly Ranchers, you most likely go through a bag of them within a few days. But what if you accidentally find an expired bag of these candies in your pantry? Can you eat them?

Do Jolly Ranchers expire? Jolly Ranchers come with a “Best By” date. So, they do expire. But this doesn’t mean you can’t eat them if they are past the printed date! If the candies have been stored properly, they will be good for consumption for over a year. 

In this article, we tell you about the shelf life of Jolly Ranchers, what makes them deteriorate faster, how you should store the candies to preserve their best quality, and more. 

What Are Jolly Ranchers?

Founded in 1949, Jolly Rancher is an American candy brand. Originally, the brand sold ice cream, chocolate candies, and hard candies.

Jolly Rancher hard candies became more popular than other products of the brand. Eventually, it was decided to focus only on the hard candies. 

In 1996, the Hershey Company bought Jolly Ranchers and expanded its production. It started making hard candies of various flavors as well as other types of candies, including chews, gummies, candy canes, and lollipops.

And still, hard candies remained the most popular Jolly Rancher product!

Jolly Rancher candies are available in various fruity flavors, including green apple, grape, watermelon, raspberry, etc. Sour and cinnamon-flavored Jolly Ranchers are also available. 

What Are Jolly Ranchers Made Of?

Jolly Rancher hard candies are made from a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, mineral oil, natural and artificial flavors and colors, and a few other ingredients.

Depending on the flavor, the ingredient list of Jolly Rancher hard candies slightly varies. 

Do Jelly Ranchers Go Bad?

Like all candies, Jolly Rancher hard candies can go bad. While they do last quite long, you need to store them properly to prevent them from going bad too soon. 

Although there are preservatives in Jolly Ranchers that slow down spoilage, the candies will eventually go bad. Their texture and flavor will gradually deteriorate making them unsuitable for consumption. 

How Long Are Jolly Ranchers Good For?

Jolly Ranchers come in bags, and there is a “Best By” date on all bags. We recommend you always check them before buying and eating these candies. 

Note that the “Best By” date is simply the manufacturer’s estimation of how long the product will maintain its best flavor and texture. Hard candies that have been stored properly will be good for a few months past the printed date. 

Jolly Rancher hard candies can be good for up to 12 months. The long shelf life of these candies has to do with the fact that they are high in sugar and low in moisture. 

Many people believe hard candies can last indefinitely if you keep them in perfect conditions, i.e., away from heat and moisture. While this may be true, the overall quality of the candies will gradually deteriorate. 

Jellies, however, last a little shorter — 6 to 9 months if stored properly. 

How To Store Jolly Ranchers

Candy bar at a wedding reception featuring Jolly Ranchers.

Jolly Rancher hard candies are very shelf stable.

The fact that each candy comes individually wrapped is one of the reasons they last so long.

The plastic wrapping prevents the candies from drying out. It also prevents them from sticking to each other. 

If you want Jolly Rancher candies to last long and retain their best quality, you should protect them from moisture and humidity, light, and heat

Store unopened bags of Jolly Ranchers in a cool and dark place, such as a kitchen cupboard or pantry. 

Once you open the bag of Jolly Ranchers, it is best to transfer the candies into an airtight bag or container to protect them from moisture and humidity. Put the candies into a cool place away from direct sunlight. 

If for some reason you have unwrapped all your Jolly Rancher candies, the best thing you can do is to coat them in powdered sugar and only then transfer them into an airtight bag or container.

This powdered sugar coating will prevent the candies from sticking to each other and from absorbing moisture. 

Should You Refrigerate Jolly Ranchers?

Normally, you don’t have to refrigerate Jolly Ranchers. Jolly Rancher hard candies do well at room temperature so long as they are out of direct sunlight. 

With this said, if it is overly hot and humid where you live, store Jolly Ranchers in the fridge to prevent them from becoming sticky. 

Can You Freeze Jolly Ranchers?

While there isn’t much much point in freezing Jolly Ranchers, you can do it if you want to make sure that the hard candies last 12 months and longer. 

To freeze Jolly Ranchers, put them into heavy-duty zip-top bags or containers, label them with the date, and freeze. As each candy is individually wrapped, they won’t get stuck to each other. 

If the temperature in your freezer is stable, the candies will last indefinitely. 

Can You Freeze-Dry Jolly Ranchers?

Freeze-dried candies have become widely popular in recent months!

Freeze-drying is the process of dehydrating frozen food. Food items are first frozen, then depressurized, and then heated. All these processes make the ice turn into vapor skipping the liquid stage. 

There is nearly no moisture left in food after freeze-drying. As a result, it is crunchy and airy. 

Freeze-drying makes food last very long while also preserving its nutritional value. But Jolly Rancher hard candies have a long shelf life, they are not the most nutritious treat. So why freeze-dry them?

Freeze-drying candies is one of the latest food trends and we’re not mad about it. Freeze-dried candy has a fun texture and a brighter flavor. But not all candies freeze-dry well. 

Surprisingly enough, Jolly Ranchers are one of the best candies to freeze-dry!

These hard candies expand significantly when you freeze-dry them. They become puffy and slightly crunchy. Unlike regular Jolly Ranchers, freeze-dried Jolly Ranchers are easy to chew

The best way to freeze-dry Jolly Ranchers and other candies is by using a freeze-dryer. 

How Do You Know Jolly Ranchers Are Bad?

You may start noticing signs of spoilage on Joly Ranchers if you have had them for too long or haven’t stored them in proper conditions.

Here are some signs that it is time to discard Jolly Rancher hard candies:

  • Flavor Changes. You should discard Jolly Ranchers if they have developed an off flavor. 
  • Stickiness. Jolly Ranchers may get sticky if they have been left somewhere hot or under direct sunlight. They may also get sticky as they expire. 
  • Grainy Appearance. One of the signs that it is time to get rid of Jolly Ranchers is their grainy appearance. This happens when the sugar in hard candy starts to crystalize. 
  • Mold. Though it is uncommon for Jolly Ranchers to get moldy, this may happen if you have stored the candies somewhere humid. Discard Jolly Ranchers if you notice traces of mold on them. 

What Happens If You Eat Bad Jolly Ranchers?

Jolly Ranchers that are past the expiration date are still safe for consumption. They may have a deteriorated texture and flavor, but they won’t make you sick. 

With this said, you may want to discard Jolly Ranchers that are too old and buy a new bag of candies that is full of flavor and has an enjoyable texture. 

As for moldy Jolly Ranchers, the chances are low that eating them will make you sick. Moreover, you most likely will spit out moldy candies immediately as they will taste rather bad.

The worst-case scenario is that you will experience nausea or upset stomach as a result of eating moldy Jolly Ranchers.

Can You Save Melted Jolly Ranchers?

Jelly Rancher hard candies are the perfect treats to keep in your car or bag, but it can often get hot in there — and even hard Jelly Ranchers can get melty!

If your Jolly Rancher candies have become slightly melty because of heat, put them in the fridge as soon as you bring them home. 

Leave the candies in the fridge until they harden again. After this, you can leave the candies in the fridge or transfer them into the pantry or a kitchen cupboard where the temperature is not very high. 

The shape of the candies may be slightly distorted after being exposed to heat but their texture should be back to normal once they cool. 

Refrigerating melty candies will also make it easy to remove the wrappings. 

If your Jelly Ranchers are all melty and distorted, a fun thing to do is to go ahead and melt them all the way to make Jelly Rancher pops. 

To do this, line a baking tray with parchment paper and put a few hard candies on it. Put the candies away from each other so that they don’t touch each other when they melt. 

Set the oven to 225°F. Leave the candies in the oven for around 5 minutes or until they fully melt.

Once you remove the candies from the oven press sticks into them while they are still hot. Remove Jolly Rancher pops from the oven tray when they cool. 

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