What does that Hershey’s code mean?
Here’s how to decode the code on a Hershey’s wrapper. Hershey uses a two digit alpha-numeric code to denote the month and year of the expiration date. Here’s what the Hershey’s site says:
There is an ink stamped code on Hershey’s products. Within that code, usually at the end, there is a two character code that represents the year and the month until which the product is expected to be within its peak freshness. The first character is a number, (0-9) that represents the year. The second character is a letter, (A-L) that represents the month. A=Jan., B=Feb., etc. For example, a code of 7D is best before until April 2007.
My Hershey’s Twosomes Almond Joy (Limited Edition) bar has a code that’s on two lines:
I’m guessing the 7C is the one I want, so that means that the bar is considered fresh until March 2007.
My York Peppermint Patties:
This would expire in November 2006, so I got in just under the wire.
A Heath bar:
This one would expire in December 2006. Just remember, L is the LAST month!
What does that Nestle code mean?
Following up on decoding the Mars code, here’s the Nestle code, thanks to Reader Dave.
Nestle uses something called the Julian code. The first four digits of the code on the wrapper will give you the date the product was manufactured.
Julian code is rather difficult to read on the fly, but here goes: the first digit represents the last digit of the year. The next three numbers represent the day of the year.
My Baby Ruth bar says:
That means that it was made on the January 25, 2006. (That was an easy one.)
My Nestle Crunch bar says:
52941211 A5 7A
Hmm, anything that begins with a 5 sounds kind of bad in October. This one was made on October 21, 2005. Almost a year old.
My 100 Grand bar says:
Again with the 2005 ... but at least the second number “334” is pretty large. That’d be November 30, 2005.
A quick way to calculate the month is to divide the three digit number by 30. If you can’t do that in your head, try dividing by 10 (moving the decimal place once slot) and then by 3. For the last one it gives you the approximation of November ... which is probably all you really wanted to know anyway.
For the record, the true Julian day number is a lot more complex and tracks the number of days since 4713 ... kinda like stardates!
What does that Mars code mean?
As I’m often found eating expired (or at least past prime) candy, it was a wonderful comment on the Skittles Fresh Mint post that breaks the code on the package of Mars products. Reader Dave posted the code in the comments and I’m putting it here for everyone to use.
Here’s how do figure out when that candy was made:
The date of packaging is within the first three digits of the code - the first digit is the last number of the year and the next two are the week of the year.
So, the Milky Way bar I have in front of me says:
That means it was made in the 20th week of 2006 - or sometime between May 14th to the 21st. Pretty fresh.
The Milky Way Dark I have says:
That means it was made in the 14th week of 2006 - or sometime between April 2nd to the 9th. Not bad.
This seems to work with Canadian Mars products too, as this is what the Mars Dark says:
That means it was made the 35th week of 2005 ... hmm, sometime between August 26th and September 2nd. That’s a little old. But I it must have been stored properly as it was still fresh and tasty.
The week of the year thing is a little tricky unless you have a payroll calendar nearby, so a quick and easy way to approximate the month is to divide the week by four (it gets less reliable the higher the number because there’s usually a fraction of a week left in the month).
The UK Mars bar I have simply has an expiration date on it (12-11-06). I’m not sure if that’s the European date style (November 12th, 2006) or the American (December 11, 2006) but at least neither of them have passed yet.