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Preserving the Festiveness: How Long Do Candy Canes Last?

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We love our candy canes, don’t we? They may not taste the best, but they are colorful and pretty to look at.

There’s noticeable excitement whenever you hand over one of these sweet treats to a kid – mainly due to the candies’ inviting color.

As for us adults, candy canes make for visually pleasing add-ons on Christmas trees or in glass jars on dining tables.

That’s not to say that these treats aren’t edible. They are. It’s just that they make prettier decor than they taste pleasant.

Candy canes contain alarmingly large quantities of sugar. They have a longer shelf life than most processed food, but they go bad too.

If you’re wondering how long do candy canes last, here’s the tea – the good-brand ones remain edible for years if unopened. We’ll tell you all about how to confirm if your candy cane is no longer consumable.

But the rule of thumb is if you suspect it isn’t, don’t take a chance. These treats do not offer any nutritional benefits, even in their peak form.

You can imagine how much worse they are for your body when they deteriorate.

How Long Do Candy Canes Last? Do Candy Canes Go Bad?

Sugar is the ‘glue’ that holds a candy cane together. Every time you bite into one of them, you’re sinking your teeth into hardened sugar.

Though its ingredients aren’t the healthiest for the human body, they are lovely for the sweet’s shelf life. If unopened, a candy cane can last for up to three years (maybe even five).

Other than remaining intact in its wrapper, the other factor that significantly decides the longevity of a candy cane’s edibility is the environment it is in.

You want your candy canes to be in a dry and cool place because humidity is their greatest enemy.

There’s a theory that states that candy canes never go bad (unless stored incorrectly). And that is true to an extent.

Much like all products, these sweets come with a ‘use by’ date. It indicates the last date up to which a manufacturer vouches for the product’s quality.

Your candy cane is still safe to eat even if it’s past the ‘use by’ date on the wrapper. It’s just that it may not be in its best form.

How To Tell If Candy Canes Are Bad?

The simplest way to tell if a candy cane is spoiled is to feel its firmness. You can do this by biting into it or by pushing your fingernails into the candy.

If it feels soft, the candy may not be in its best form. Nonetheless, a soft candy cane does not necessarily mean it is not consumable.

You can still eat it. The only difference is, it’ll be chewy instead of crumbling under the weight of your teeth when you bite it.

Proper storage is often the biggest decider of how long a candy cane lasts. You want each candy to be in its individual wrapper.

If you’re putting candies away, place them in an airtight container.

You’ll know if candy is at its prime by how it unwraps. If it separates easily from its covering, it is fresh.

With candies, there’s also the fear of bugs and insects finding their way to them. There are times when it’s unavoidable that ants discover your stack of candy canes, all because one of them came slightly out of their cover.

The best thing to do here is to dispose of the whole stock to be on the safe side. These sweets come with an expiry date, but they remain edible weeks or even years after. 

And unlike vegetables or meats, you can’t tell if a candy cane is bad just by smelling it or looking at it.

The latter does not emit any foul smell or produce mold (generally speaking). This means you’ll have to rely on feeling a candy cane’s texture to determine if it’s safe to eat or not.

Consuming bad candy cane may not cause as severe side effects as those caused by eating spoilt tuna.

Nonetheless, you can incur physical discomfort if you consume candy cane whose quality is questionable.


The ideal place to store candy canes is in a dry, cool place – your kitchen cabinet, for example.

Be sure to check that each candy’s wrapper is firmly in place. If you’re not content with keeping them out at room temperature, you can refrigerate or freeze them.

For this, you’ll need to ensure that each candy is individually wrapped. Then, use a vacuum sealer to get out as much air from so they aren’t exposed to moisture.

If you’re freezing your candy canes, wrap them in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or an airtight container. Their taste and color may change slightly when refrigerated or frozen, but they remain edible, and that’s what matters.

How Long Do Candy Canes Last? Do Candy Canes Go Bad?

Recipe by Kimberly Baxter Course: Shelf Life


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  • Candy canes

  • Air-tight containers or Ziplock bags

  • Labels and markers


  • Read the guide thoroughly to learn how long it lasts.
  • Label your container with the content and date and keep track of how much you’re using!
  • Make sure to store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (pantry or fridge).

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