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Article: Do Christmas Crackers Expire?

Do Christmas Crackers Expire?

While Christmas crackers don't have an expiration date like perishable food items, their quality, as with many paper-based products, can deteriorate over time. However, it's essential to distinguish between expiration and diminished quality. While expired food can pose health risks, last year’s Christmas crackers may not provide the same level of enjoyment as fresh ones but they’re extremely unlikely to cause harm!

What do Christmas Crackers contain?

Traditionally, Christmas crackers or bonbons/bon bons consist of a decorated cardboard tube wrapped in colourful paper. Inside the tube, there's a small toy or novelty item, a paper crown or hat, and a slip of paper containing a joke or riddle. The cracker is pulled apart by two people, traditionally resulting in a cracking sound, thanks to a small friction-based mechanism (made of a tiny amount of silver fulminate) inside. 

Here at Bonbon Fusion, we’ve reinvented the Christmas cracker, with each range bringing people together to solve a puzzle or play a game. The Adventure Hunt range, for example, centres on novel 3D-printed artefacts, designed and printed by us in Brisbane (QLD), using starch-derived plastic. Each of the six bonbons contains adventure-related notes, at least one 3D-printed artefact, a jewellery pouch, a party hat, instructions, and a solution. The fact that there’s less paper (the puzzle pieces and hidden treasure being the ‘heroes’ of the bonbon pack 😊) means that the quality is less likely to diminish over time.

Bonbon Fusion crackers also contain silent snaps - an eco-friendly alternative that produces a quieter sound, while still providing resistance as you pull the bonbons apart. This also eliminates the risk of the silver fulminate deteriorating, e.g., through dampness, with the expected cracking sound lost. 

The Silent Snap Christmas Cracker
Credit: The Telegraph

Factors Influencing Quality

Several factors can influence whether bonbons lose their appeal over time, all of which can be safeguarded against. Consider the following if you’re storing your crackers for a future event. 

Moisture and Humidity:

Christmas crackers are made of paper and cardboard, which are susceptible to damage from moisture and humidity. Exposure to these elements can cause the crackers to become soggy, making them less enjoyable to pull apart and potentially damaging the contents inside.

Storage Conditions:

Proper storage can prolong the shelf life of your bonbons. Storing them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture can help preserve their quality for longer periods.

Quality of Contents:

The quality of the toys, novelties, and jokes inside traditional crackers can vary. Higher-quality materials, such as those used by Bonbon Fusion are likely to withstand the test of time better than cheaper alternatives.

Chemical Reactions:

Some components of Christmas crackers, such as the silver fulminate strip that creates the cracking sound in traditional varieties, may degrade over time, affecting their performance.

How Long do Christmas Crackers Last?

If stored properly in a dry environment, bonbons can last for years without significant deterioration. However, it's essential to inspect them before use, especially if they've been stored for an extended period. Look for signs of damage, such as water stains, mould, or discoloration before using.

So, the next time you reach for a pack of bonbons to celebrate a special occasion, remember that, while they are unlikely have an expiration date, their freshness and appeal can indeed fade with time. However, with a little care and attention, these wonderful festive products can continue to bring joy and laughter to your celebrations for years to come.

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