All good things must come to an end, and that old saying certainly applies to a tall glass of fizzy Coca-Cola—but not in the way you may think.
Every food product either has a sell-by or expiration date, with some items lasting considerably longer than others. Various packaged foods and beverages are even edible well past those dates. For example, an unopened can of Coke can allegedly retain its shelf life for up to nine months after the “best before date” in either a pantry or a refrigerator. Unopened is the keyword here. (Related: 8 Grocery Items That May Soon Be in Short Supply.)
Even the USDA says carbonated sodas aren’t perishable, and they’re safe to consume past the date stamped on the container. But the carbonation and the flavor will both eventually begin to dissipate, and no one wants to crack open a flat, flavorless soft drink. For best quality, the USDA advises consuming “unopened diet sodas within 3 months after the date expires; regular sodas within 9 months.”
In late October, the YouTube channel Temponaut Timelapse, which documents the decomposition process of various foods, captured exactly what happens when you leave a glass of Coke out on a table for about three months on camera.
Nothing jarring occurs in the first week. On the very first day, the ice completely melts within the first three hours. The soda visibly sinks into the cup, almost as if it’s evaporating. By the eighth day, a few whiteish-green mold spores begin to bloom on the inner sides of the glass and on the top of the beverage. (Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Coke)
The mold continues to flourish in the cup. By day 20, it begins to completely inhabit the cup, and the liquid begins to disappear. After 105 days, the beverage is practically gone, and the mold spots appear brown.
For more, check out 7 Hacks You Can Do With a Can of Coke.