Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Want Expiration Dates!!

Chocolate can last a long time if stored properly. That would be between temperatures of 60 degrees and 68 degrees and with no crazy extremes of humidity. Dark chocolate bars can taste good after two years and milk chocolate after one year. With filled chocolates, there may be other ingredients that can't last this long. That's why you hope the manufacturers put expiration dates on the packaging.

Since I've started writing this blog, I've accumulated more chocolate than the average human should ever have. I try to keep an eye on the expiration dates so I can review things before they go bad.

But I'm noticing that lots of my bars have no expiration dates. What the hell? Let me show you why this is a problem:

Look at these pictures. Look at that fluffy, creamy filling. I wanted to review these bars last week. But look at them:

Is that creamy? Fluffy? Moussey? No. It looks old, stale, dried out. The chocolate seemed okay, but the fillings did not live up to the billing. I thought at $6.00 a piece these were a complete rip off. BUT I didn't know if it was because they were old or because they were just not good. They carried no expiration date. They could have been made five years ago for all I know. I think anything that is edible should have an expiration date or a best by date. Or, as my friend Carl Weaver of the National Confectioners Association suggested, a production date.

How can a buyer tell what he or she is buying? In places like World Market, I'm betting some chocolate might stay on the shelf a long time. How can the buyer tell what is fresh and what is not? I think this is a problem. Even the package of peanut M & M's I reviewed yesterday has no expiration date. Surely they can't last forever. Hell, these days even SODA has a best by date.

I've discovered that a lot of chocolate tastes MUCH better when it is fresh. But with many of these brands you can't tell. I can see why manufacturers don't want to print dates on their products. They can sell them longer. But does that serve the consumer?

Remember Godiva's pumpkin truffles? They tasted a little "off" to me. But there was no expiration date anywhere. So who knows? I have to assume they just didn't taste good.

Not all chocolate makers do this - many have expiration or use by dates. I think all of them should.

Bloom is another problem. Chocolate cannot handle rapid changes in temperature.

Here's bloom on a Baci:

It still tasted great. And, interestingly enough, the other Baci had no bloom. Go figure. They were in the same box!

More bloom. No expiration date. Bloom has more to do with handling than time, but...

Bloom looks so bad it's hard to get past it. The chocolate tastes fine, but looks bad.

I just want an expiration date. I know it won't save me from bloom, but it will make me feel better.

I think we should get the Naked Cowboy on this immediately.


Heidi said...

Naked Cowboy, Naked Cowboy, where art thou????

And dang it, I agree with you.

Buyers beware!

Carl Weaver said...

It's true that if ever our society had a universal nondenominational savior, it is the Naked Cowboy. If he can't get things in order, we are pretty much doomed.

Denise, you hit the nail on the head. It's not age as much as it is handling procedures. You can be pretty sure that the manufacturers and distributors know about climate control and do their part. But between the manufacturer and the distributor, and then on the way to a company warehouse and then to an individual store, these items ride in trucks. To a point they are kept cool but how long before they warm up? Then at the store, they can be held in a warehouse. Have you worked at a supermarket? or quick-stop store? They sometimes have warehouses that get pretty hot, especially in the south. Then at the store, not all retailers are big on rotating for freshness, despite what they are supposed to do. I am not pointing fingers, just saying that there are many, many places where this system can break down.

This is not a problem that has to do with a particular company or even necessarily with the age of the product.

I agree that expiration dates would help us be better informed consumers but if stored properly chocolate, along with many other products, can last long past when they are scheduled to expire.

Dorian said...

I agree wholeheartedly.

I was so disappointed at Green & Black's Chocolates horrible service in the West Midlands of England recently. I ordered 60 bars of chocolate, and they sent me a box that was due to expire in less than 3 months. I don't call that service - especially for a company espousing "luxury" and "indulgence". First they (they!) got my address wrong, delaying the order by a week, I wouldn't have even known THAT had I not phoned out of concern -- THEN they fobbed me off with OLD chocolate. I was and still so disappointed. I was a first time customer as well.

Anyhow, expiration dates are necessary and you really have to watch some of these mail-order companies - even the so-called "exclusive" ones. :(

Denise Ryan said...

Hi Dorian! Thanks for the comment!! I've read that before about some of the companies that do Internet sales - and I've had it happen too. They basically send out old inventory!! I would definitly expect better from Green & Black's. I'm so sorry you had such a bad experience!

Scott Slocum said...

Beware of chocolate products sold for a "bargain" at T.J. Maxx. I've tried them a few times, but they were never a bargain--not fresh.

I just send in a freshness code to for decoding.

Denise Ryan said...

Scott - you are right - T.J. Maxx and Marshalls - I have the same problems!
ARGH! Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

I just purchased a candy bar at world market. After opening it and it tasted "OFF" I turned over the box. The date on the bottom was 5/5/16. AHHHH.. Although it doesn't state use by, in my mind I would guess it's an expiration not production date.

Denise Ryan said...

HATE that!!!! Sorry it happened to you!