Why You Should Never Leave Food in the Car

Why You Should Never Leave Food in the Car

So much food, so little time Top foods

The Winter Fancy Food Show #WFFS2017 just wrapped up in San Francisco, CA. Two halls of new food and old delights were on display at the Moscone Center. What are some of the foods that are best to eat in the car? A group of five taste testers was given the task of tasting every food and ranking them.

Chocodates almonds, dates, chocolate, coconut
Chocodates almonds, dates, chocolate, coconut

Some of the foods won’t make it; as good as the chocolate cabernet syrup was, it’s not good in the car. Trust me, we tried. The Montamore Sartori Cheese made in Wisconsin had such a full-bodied taste that all of us would eat it in our car, but we were looking at foods that were packaged for eating and storing, in case of emergency, in a car.

We didn’t name anyone’s product as the highest or lowest of the top ten; we liked them all and many for different reasons. We did register if it was vegan, gluten-free, natural, organic, able to keep you awake or an item that you can keep in your car in case of an emergency.

Our first unanimous pick was coconut chocolates from Dubai. Almond, inside a date, dipped in chocolate, rolled in coconut. It’s just the right amount of texture and taste. It’s great with tea or coffee and can stay in the car for about a year.

Soft licorice berry strawberry blueberry pomegrana
Soft licorice berry strawberry blueberry pomegranate

I’d like to say that all five of us were in agreement about the licorice, but it was gone before some got to try it, it was that good. The Lucky Country berry is made in the USA was good, but to die for was the ever moist Australia’s Darrell Lea in either Strawberry or Blueberry & Pomegranate flavor.

Yeah, it’s a lot of sugar, but as the saying goes, you can’t eat just one. The expiration date is about a year.

Marich – two different types of chocolate, t
Marich – two different types of chocolate, two different types of toffee, almonds, cashews, caramel, popcorn

Two different types of chocolate, two different types of toffee, almonds, cashews, caramel, popcorn. It’s going to take me forever to get this taste testing weight off! But I forage on, good soldier that I am. I will suffer through for everyone.

Marich Chocolates – First, let me say, there wasn’t a single pack of chocolates that we didn’t like. Picking my favorite was a surprise; usually, I would go straight to the salted nut caramel anything, but the one chocolate goodie that was my favorite was the salted caramel popcorn in milk chocolate. I don’t know how Marich can make popcorn-covered chocolate still taste so crisp. And so good. It was addicting! I wouldn’t keep these in the car for emergency purposes, one because they would melt, and two because they wouldn’t last that long if I knew they were in the glovebox.

What’s interesting is that one of the tasters, Stretch, doesn’t like coffee, won’t drink it at all, but he loves the chocolate-covered espresso beans. Go figure.

Maisie Jane’s California sunshine Almonds
Maisie Jane’s California sunshine Almonds

We mixed in some Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine all-natural dry roasted almonds, just to cleanse our palette. Vegan, gluten-free, all-natural, and great to keep in your car for emergencies as they have a long shelf-life.

The candy bars are easy; great to throw in a glove compartment in the wintertime. Getting stuck in traffic is bad, getting stuck without food and water is harder.

Divvies Chocolate is slim and easy to throw in t
Divvies Chocolate is slim and easy to throw in the glove box

Divvies Chocolate is slim and easy to throw in the glove box. The crispy rice crunch played well in my mouth with the Tamari almonds from California.

If you love Belgian chocolate, you’ll love Guylian chocolate bars that come in signature hazelnut, crunchy biscuit, caramel, and milk truffle.

Each year the Fancy Food Show picks local gourmet chocolate to partner with the city. This year it was Poco Dolce that partnered with the Fine Arts Museums with new artisanal chocolate bars. The new packaging will showcase artwork on the candy bars that celebrate the special exhibits at the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor.

Fire up the fire corn popcorn! You’re taking a flight if you eat this, I’m warning you now. We met Ret. Lt-Colonel Greg Anders in his jumpsuit. Stretch is a homebuilt pilot, Anders is a fighter pilot, so they got along fabulously, talking planes and airports and museums right away. Anders served in the Iraqi freedom; he has flown on the wing of Colonel Bud Anderson. His father was part of the Apollo 8 mission. Stand-up guy, stand-up family.

Anders told us how when the guys would come back after their mission, they’re debriefed, and they like to have something to cold to drink. What goes better with a cold brewski than some hot, hot fire corn popcorn? Seriously, hot. Seriously, jalapeno hot. It will keep you awake while driving, that’s for sure.

Make sure to have something cold to drink.



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What is easy to hold in your hand, stuffed with cherries, and healthy to boot? Homemade granola bars! Check out this highly customizable recipe from Chowhound, and try adding dark chocolate chunks to make it even more delicious.


Muffins are great road food for their minimal messiness and portability. These delicious spiced zucchini muffins from Chowhound provide a little bit of sweet and a little bit of healthy.

A cars temperature

You might be surprised at how hot an unairconditioned car can get in some parts of the country throughout the year. “During the summer months, the interior of a closed-up vehicle can easily reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit here on the east coast,” John Burkhauser, an auto repair specialist and director of educational programs at Bolt On Technology, tells Reader’s Digest. “In other sections of the country where the ambient temperature gets as high as 115 degrees, the interior temperature can go even higher.”

That means your food is going to get really hot, really fast. “In reality, no foods should be exposed to these temperatures for long because the food itself is not only the problem, the container or wrapping of the food usually is not designed to withstand these temperatures and may also interact with the food,” explains Burkhauser. This also explains why plastic water bottles have expiration dates.

Jerky beef top foods

Country archer’s gluten-free jerky
Country archer’s gluten-free jerky

Simple beef jerky is so passé. Even plain turkey jerky doesn’t cut it; please pass the honey Dijon turkey jerky or the hickory-smoked turkey. Country archer’s gluten-free jerky is served in packages you can keep in your car for a year; teriyaki or original is good, but if you need a kick to stay awake try the sriracha, sweet jalapeño, crushed red pepper, or mango pepper.

All-natural all delicious some hot.

Another all-natural jerky with added taste is the pure provisions. Tasty and spicy to keep you awake while driving goes to Jamaican style, sweet and tangy goes to the orange ginger, and then there is the stand-alone savory five spice. All can be kept in the car for a year if you don’t eat them first.

all-natural jerky with added taste are the pure pr
all-natural jerky with added taste are the pure provisions
Natierra has a twofer; goji berry duo
Natierra has a twofer; goji berry duo

Natierra has a twofer; goji berry duo. The plain chewy goji berry with a chocolate-covered goji berry. Eat separately or together with hot coffee or red wine; they are so versatile. Just like its name says, it is part nature part earth; superfood that is good for the soul.

Food safety in cars with and without air conditioning

Even though it might seem common practice to leave food out in the car, it’s something that should be discouraged. Wright says that foods can reach the “danger zone” for bacterial growth quickly in unairconditioned cars. “Perishable foods like dairy and salads containing mayonnaise are especially dangerous and should be avoided. The opposite is true for hot foods in an air-conditioned car. Meat can be especially dangerous so should be avoided.”

Food safety applies to all foods, regardless of whether it’s fresh or frozen. Air conditioning doesn’t preserve or keep food cool, either. “Even if the air conditioning in a vehicle is working perfectly, the temperature of the air coming out of the vents usually is above freezing so frozen food should not be left in the vehicle for long with the AC on,” says Burkhauser. Burkhauser adds that drivers should be careful of sunlight entering the car since it can warm up anything in its light.

How can food damage your car’s interior?

Leaving food in your car for an extended period of time can not only cause it to stink up your car’s interior but if certain foods end up melting on a hot day, then the messes can stain your car’s interior or even seep into electrical parts like USB ports. You might think that there’s a slim chance of that happening in your car, but unless it’s perfectly clean, then you might not even remember that you left food in it.

The bottom line is that you may want to take food out of your car as soon as possible and if you’re going on a road trip, then refrain from taking perishable foods with you. If anything, stick to road trip snacks and bring a cooler.


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