Friday, September 18, 2020

Drop a Warhead in baking soda water, and bubbles erupt. Leave a Skittle in water, and the S floats to the surface. Melt a Starburst, and shiny oil spots form. You're doing candy experiments--science experiments with candy.

Melt Halloween candy. Dissolve Valentine hearts. Float Easter Peeps. Or let your kids create their own candy science experiments.

Candy experiments. All candy. All science. All fun.

As seen in Family Fun, Parents, Mothering Magazine, Highlights, the Chicago Tribune, ParentMap, Miami Family, and The Red Tricycle

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Marshmallow Challenge: teamwork and engineering in action

My son's favorite school activity lately was The Marshmallow Challenge, as seen on Tom Wujec's website.  Each team had eighteen minutes to plan and build a tower with tape, 20 pieces of spaghetti, scissors, and a marshmallow to put on top. My son's group of four came up with their class's winning design: a spaghetti leg tripod with a single strand of spaghetti reaching up (like a camera tripod).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Color Changing Nerds

Eight years ago, my four year old wanted to put Nerds in water. We put them in water, they dissolved, the water turned purple, we threw it out, and Candy Experiments were born.

But we didn't know that there was more to learn! This Halloween we put purple Nerds in water, and left it a few days. As the dye decomposed, the water turned red!

A solution of purple Nerds in water (left) ends up fading to red after a few days (right)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Genes Affect Sweetness Perception

Is there such a thing as a sweet tooth? Maybe it's a sweet tongue. A recent study published in Twin Research and Human Genetics found that "about 30% of variations in sweet taste perception can be attributed to genetics," and that people who perceive sweet taste less strongly might therefore add more sugar when sweetening something like coffee or cereal.

Summarized in "Genes Affect Sweet Taste Percepetion," Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter Oct 2015, page 2

Monday, November 2, 2015

Best use of candy corn: Corn Bread or Candy Experiments?

Dominique Ansel, creator of the Cronut, suggests families use up leftover candy corn this way: cook it into cornbread! ( *"Cook with Leftover Candy!" Time Oct 27, 2014, page 81) All you need, apparently, is a standard cornbread recipe with 3 oz chopped candy corn, which dissolves into the batter when you refrigerate it overnight. Stir it the next day to mix the dye into the batter, and cook. Of course, if you do, you're still eating all of the sugar and dye you might have been trying to avoid.

Here's how we play with candy corn: "Skin the Candy" from Candy Experiments. Just drop your candy corn in warm water and watch the glaze peel off like snakeskin.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Apple Jacks Marshmallow Mystery

You can eat Halloween candy for dessert, you can eat candy-themed cereal for breakfast, and now your favorite sugary cereals come in a Halloween edition with marshmallows! Looks like on Halloween you get candy first thing and last thing.

I wondered how much sugar the marshmallows added to an already sugary cereal, so I checked labels for a 28 gram serving.

Sugar in a 28 gram serving of Froot Loops:
Froot Loops with Marshmallows: 13 g  (46% sugar)
Froot Loops without Marshmallows: 10 g  (36% sugar)

Then I checked the numbers for a 28 gram serving of Apple Jacks
Apple Jacks with Marshmallows: 12 g  (43% sugar)
Apple Jacks without Marshmallows: 12 g  (43% sugar)

No added sugar in Apple Jacks? Were the marshmallows practically weightless? Were the Apple Jacks so sugary that adding marshmallows didn't change the sugar content? I bought a box and weighed the marshmallows, which I found to be about 14% of each serving. What was going on?

A week later I checked the Apple Jacks labels again. This time, they read:

Apple Jacks with Marshmallows: 12 g
Apple Jacks without Marshmallows: 10 g

Instead of finding a science error, or a math error, I found a labeling error. So it's official--there is way more sugar when you add marshmallows!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Kids choosing candy

"Cartoons using overweight characters may encourage children to eat more," according to a Nutrition Action Review summary of a recent study. When children were shown a cartoon character before they got candy, children who saw an overweight character took more Hershey Kisses or cookies than children who were shown a normal-weight character. But if asked to think about things "that make you healthy" and to choose healthier pictures (say, milk over soda), the "characters had no impact on the number of cookies the kids ate."

The message? "Beware of subtle influences that make you--or your children--overeat." *From the J. Consumer Pschy 2015: doi:10.1016, summarized in Nutrition Action Review Oct 2015