We’ve all been there: you impulsively buy a bunch of Hershey’s Kisses, only to forget about them in the back of your pantry. Then months pass before you re-discover them. At first, excitement! Soon followed by confusion and doubt.
Imagine the scene — there’s a white layer of something on the chocolate. What does this mean? The package doesn’t indicate that the chocolate has expired yet. Can you eat still it?
So, how long do Hershey’s Kisses last? Hershey’s chocolate, stored under optimal conditions, will last around 11 months — potentially longer if the bag is unopened. The expiry date isn’t a true indication of when the chocolate has gone bad, but there are loads of elements that can ruin the chocolate before then.
In today’s article, we explore the many elements that can cause Hershey’s Kisses to spoil. Understanding what ruins them will help you better understand how long they can last — and how to make them last even longer!
What Are Hershey’s Kisses Made Of?
Hershey’s Kisses are arguably one of the most well-known chocolate treats across the globe.
These drop-shaped chocolate dollops are simple and only made with a couple of ingredients, such as cane sugar, milk powder, milk fat, chocolate, cocoa butter, and lecithin.
However, the less-talked-about ingredients that go into also every chocolate bar are preservatives, stabilizers, flavorings, and colorings. These are amongst the most popular additions.
These are the artificial additives that give chocolate bars and products a longer shelf life. Hershey’s Kisses are no exception to this!
Understanding The Shelf Life Of Chocolate Products
Now, chocolate is an ingredient that has quite a long shelf life — especially those products that contain a bunch of stabilizers and preservatives.
On each Hershey’s chocolate product, you will usually find a best-by, use-by, or expiry date printed on the package. These dates have a couple of different meanings.
Why is it important to understand them? The bottom line is that they will help you better understand the actual (real) expiry date. In other words, how long your Hershey’s Kisses will really last.
So, the best-by date is a date that indicates when the chocolate is at its best. Chocolate is still edible after six months of production, but that doesn’t mean it will still be good.
The older chocolate (or any product) gets, the less good its texture and flavor will be.
Therefore, most manufacturers print a best-by date on the product. This date is by no means an indicator of the expiry date of the chocolate (when it has become inedible).
Because there are so many different factors that can cause chocolate to expire, it’s often very hard for producers to pinpoint a date.
The use-by date is another way for manufacturers to give a general idea of when the chocolate will still be good.
This date doesn’t indicate when the chocolate will be at its best — it only gives the consumer an idea of when the chocolate will most likely still be edible.
The use-by date is also not an indicator of the exact expiry date.
Very few corporations use expiry dates anymore. Why? Well, the laws have become so strict regarding liability that when they put a date on the bar and someone gets sick before that, they could be sued.
However, some brands still have this date in addition to use-by or best-by dates.
The expiry date shows when chocolate shouldn’t be eaten anymore. It’s still a ballpark date and you can’t ever really tell when chocolate has gone off (before it actually does). So, even this date might not be perfectly accurate.
But, what we will say is that when you reach this date, the chocolate will not be appealing to eat, even if it is still edible.
How Long Do Hershey’s Kisses Last?
Hershey’s Kisses will generally still be good for up to 11 months, but only if the chocolate has been stored under perfect conditions at all times.
After 11 months, it is likely still edible, but it may not be appealing to eat. However, you can still (likely) utilize the chocolate differently.
If your package is still closed after the printed expiry date, your Hershey’s Kisses will likely still be perfectly fine for another couple of months (about 2 on average).
Regular (Milk Chocolate) Hershey’s Kisses or Hershey’s Hugs White Creme will have a much worse flavor at 11 months. This is usually because the additives (which are more with sweeter chocolates) are also expiring.
Older dark chocolate products have fewer additives and thus have a better taste.
What Affects The Quality (And Shelf Life) Of Hershey’s Kisses?
The main thing that affects the shelf life of these chocolate drops is temperature. Fluctuations in the temperature cause other changes to occur, which ultimately reduced the shelf life.
The overall quality of the chocolate lowers considerably, which makes both the best-by, use-by, and expiry date sooner.
There are usually two ways chocolate is ruined. The first is the sugar bloom, and the second is fat bloom.
Sugar bloom occurs when chocolate is stored in a damp area, like the fridge.
Moisture starts collecting on the surface of the chocolate kisses and extracts the sugar from the chocolate. Once the moisture evaporates again, the sugar crystals will remain on the surface of the chocolate.
Fat bloom occurs when the chocolate heats up too much.
When overheated, the cocoa butter separates from the rest of the ingredients. Once it comes to the surface, it solidifies again, leaving white fatty streaks on the surface of the chocolate bar or product.
Can You Eat Hershey’s Kisses After Their Expiration Date?
Hershey’s Kisses are most likely still fine to eat after the printed expiry date. However, they definitely will not taste very good.
Therefore, it is always best to check whether or not the chocolate drops have gone bad before using them after their expiry date.
But honestly, it’s always good to check the quality of your chocolate before using it — even if it hasn’t reached its expiry date.
And as we have mentioned before, chocolate can become ruined before it even reaches the expiry date!
How To Tell When Hershey’s Kisses Have Gone Bad
There are a couple of signs that will let you know when you should rather toss your chocolate.
First, you can look at the physical appearance of the chocolate. If the chocolate is powdery or has cracks in it, it has dried out. That likely also affected the shelf life.
And naturally, if you see any mold growth on the chocolate, it should be safely discarded immediately.
When you see signs of fat or sugar bloom (streaky fatty streaks or a white surface), you can first check for other signs of spoiled chocolate. These Kisses may still be usable in baking, but their texture won’t be good when eaten as-is.
Then, you can also smell the chocolate, especially milk and white chocolate kisses. Because they contain milk powder and fat, they will start smelling rancid when they expire.
And finally, if you end up eating the chocolate and it tastes funky, it is funky. If you have had Hershey’s Kisses before (or any chocolate really) you will know when a chocolate product tastes off! Trust your gut.
How To Properly Store Hershey’s Kisses
Chocolate should always be stored in a cool, dry place. That doesn’t include the fridge, and it also doesn’t include room temperature.
Ideally, chocolate remains at its best when stored between 65-68ºF (18-20ºC). Room temperature is usually around 68-72ºF (20-22ºC) at the lowest.
Anything higher than the recommended temperature and you put your chocolate at risk of blooming, specifically fat bloom.
And, if you store it in a super humid area or cold area (where it condenses and sweats), it can create sugar bloom.
Your chocolate should also always be stored in an airtight container or wrapping. That will help protect it from foreign objects and will also help to prevent the chocolate from adsorbing any roaming odors.
Can You Freeze Hershey’s Kisses?
Honestly, we don’t recommend freezing chocolate. While it will help preserve the chocolate and extend its shelf life, it simultaneously ruins the flavor and texture. And there’s no way to cheat it.
Storing chocolate in the freezer causes instant sugar bloom. So, once your chocolate is thawed, it can only really be used for melting.
It won’t have a good texture; it will be crumbly and dry. It also will not have a creamy mouthfeel like Hershey’s Kisses should. And to add insult to injury, the flavor of the chocolate will also be substandard.
So, only freeze your Hershey’s Kisses when you absolutely have to! And let’s be real — their shelf life is already so long that it’s unlikely the chocolate will ruin before you use it.
How To Freeze Hershey’s Kisses
If you store Hershey’s Kisses inside the freezer, here is the best way to do it.
The foil will help protect the chocolate from freezer burn, which ultimately will cause your Hershey’s Kisses to dry out and lose flavor.
When you store the chocolate in the freezer, always do so away from any aromatic ingredients. Do not freeze the chocolate for longer than six months.