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How long does a can of coca-cola last? Like a case of them, sitting in a room-temperature room. There is a date on the bottom (MAR1411), but what does that mean?

I have a can with the World Cup on it, and I just became really curious.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It lasts indefinitely. The date you are seeing should be viewed as a "best before" date. Over time the soda can become flat and the flavor will degrade, but it will still be drinkable as long as the can was not compromised.

Based on looking at some Coke I recently purchased, it appears that the date is likely 1 year in the future from when it was canned. The cans in my fridge have a date of JUN1711; I bought these in late July.

Plastic bottles. on the other hand, have a much shorter "best before" window. This is because the plastic bottle leaks the carbonation much quicker than an aluminum can does. I don't have any bottles on hand, but if I recall correctly they typically have a date only 3 months out.

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Once after a food booth at a craft show, my family had several cases of 7-Up (in cans) left over, and we decided we'd save them in the basement. Some time later (as I recall, about a year after the expiration date), we remembered them, and tried to drink it. It tasted horrible, and we ended up throwing it all away. –  Flimzy Oct 15 '11 at 18:49
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My personal experience confirms Flimzy's comment. –  Les Sep 24 '12 at 16:46
    
Also, plastic bottles leak chemicals (usually phthalates, which act as endocrine disruptors and may be linked to cancer) into the pop over time, and the rate of release accelerates over time as the plastic breaks down, which is another reason to want to drink pop in plastic bottles quickly or not at all. –  Theodore Murdock Sep 25 '12 at 14:41

Diet drinks such as Diet Coke have a much shorter shelf life since the artificial sweetener degrades rapidly. I believe the expiration date is on the order of three months for cans. Not too much longer after that they taste pretty bad.

The corn-syrup based soft drinks I usually see are undated or carry a coded date depending on the brand.

How and whether soft drinks are dated varies by brand and possibly by bottler within a brand.

If you're keeping the can as a collectible, be aware that the can will probably eventually develop a pinhole and the contents will be lost. Bottle collectors never empty the bottles since that adversely affects the value.

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Diet cola stores very poorly. The sweetener can react with the acids to form formaldehyde (among other things) if the temp is above something like 100F. I avoid all diet soda, just to be safe (and it tastes bad). –  Adam Shiemke Aug 25 '10 at 15:28

Bought a Dr Pepper (in a can) from the vending machine in the back. The date was Aug11/08 Still tastes great and it's Oct22, 2012 :D

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I was visiting a facility in Arizona a couple of years back, and hit up their vending machine for a Mountain Dew ... it was noticably off, and then I noticed the date on it was a couple of years in the past. I want to say it was past the date by 2 to 5 years, but can't remember exactly ... it might be that the temperature extremes affected it more (it was in a basement, but I assume it wasn't a refigerated delivery truck). –  Joe Oct 22 '12 at 15:58

btw: Heat changes nutrisweet - so there is a change in flavor that is unpleasant. I see stores putting the boxes of diet coke outside in the sun - When I see this I wonder how often the soda is stored in a very hot warehouse or truck! For years I have bought 12 packs of canned diet coke when they are on sale at holidays. All of a sudden - I quit drinking them after being addicted to them for years. I have 3 12 packs that are approaching one year old - I guess I will have to open one to see if it is worth giving to a relative.

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According to some other people, the 12-year-old cans of SURGE on eBay still taste fine.

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This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. –  Mien Oct 13 '13 at 19:33

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