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, April 20, 2016

Taffy and the Near Failure of 1950s Baseball Cards

Baseball card designer Sy Berger almost failed at his first baseball card venture because he chose the wrong candy to market.

Berger was hired to design cards to sell gum. His first cards, for characters like Hopalong Cassidy, were successful, but his first baseball cards were a dismal failure. Why? Because those 1951 baseball cards were packaged with a piece of taffy. Disaster. The taffy "picked up the flavor of the cards' varnish," one article read. Berger himself remembered, " 'You wouldn't dare put that taffy near your mouth.'"* The next year he used gum in the pack instead, and the pop-culture phenomenon of baseball card collecting was born.

Why did the taffy absorb the flavor of the varnish? Perhaps because taffy is hygroscopic, absorbing water from the atmosphere around it. The gum was clearly a better choice.

*"Sy Berger: The salesman who reinvented the baseball card." <i>The Week</i>, December 26, 2014.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Break-Away Bunny causes Easter chaos

They've fought trans fats, added sugars, artificial dye, and labeling malpractice. Now health advisory groups have found a new target: Break-Away Bunny.

Here's the problem: Break-Away Bunny is creased for easy breakage, but the pieces are different sizes. Try serving that to children!

"It's sold as break-apart candy as if that's a good thing," says Consumer Nutrition Advisory Protector Group President Michael B. Morish. "But if the breaks aren't equal, it just makes matters worse. Children start fighting about portion size, which can result in depression, higher blood pressure, and occasional black eyes."

Parents agree that Break-Away Bunny breaks families apart. "My kids fought over their Bunny for two hours," said one dissatisfied mom. "We had to smash it with a hammer and spoon the pieces onto a kitchen scale before they agreed they had equal servings."

Morish is also considering suing the company about labeling practices. "A serving size is listed as 43 grams, but you can only eat a single serving if you combine the ears and the tail," he points out.  "Otherwise, customers have no way to know how big a serving is. This could cause health problems for customers who depend on labeling for their consumption decisions." And why, he continues, "does a product with six pieces only list three servings?"

On the other hand, math teachers like using Break-Away Bunny as a classroom aid. "I asked my students to figure out what size of a group could have equal servings, and how big they would be," said one teacher, who asked to remain anonymous. "They were at it so long I watched a whole movie on my phone.  Of course they never solved it."

Despite the protests of math teachers, Morish plans to continue his crusade. "The public has a right to accurate labels and accurate portion sizes," he decrees. "Break-Away Bunny is going down."

Happy April First!

News Flash: Chocolate Cheerios contain "Real Chocolate!"

These "Chocolate Cheerios" brag that they're made with "Real Cocoa."
The question: how could you possibly have chocolate without cocoa? (Unless you mean white chocolate, which many chocolate lovers claim isn't chocolate at all.)
That's like bragging that zucchini bread contains zucchinis.
(Of course, in this world of avocado-free "guacamole spread" and fruit-free "Fruit snacks," maybe you have to be obvious.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

More research on sugar sodas

When I started experimenting with candy and paying attention to sugar content in food and drinks, I saw that candy wasn't nearly as big a culprit for sugar consumption as soda. Here's yet more evidence of soda's effects on health.

Health officials around the world have warned that drinking soda or other sugar beverages is harmful.
A 2015 study* ties sweet drinks to an estimated 184,000 adult deaths each year, including 25,000 in the US alone, 133,000 from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease, and 6450 from cancer. Another study** reported in 2015 shows that drinking just one sugar soda a day increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, even if the drinker is not obese. Researchers estimated that if Americans broke their sugary drink habits, 2 million new cases of diabetes could be prevented over the next 5 years.

quoted in the week July 17, 2015

**published by a team at the University of Cambridge that analyzed 17 studies
quoted in The Week August 14, 2015

(I've been getting caught up on my reading.)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Picture book "The Denim Jungle" Captures Children's Imagination

A new picture book invites parents everywhere to get down to kid level, and look at the world their children see. In "The Denim Jungle," a child explores a forest of blue-jeaned grown-up legs, as ordinary objects magically become exciting. Angela Taylor Hylland's easy verse feels like natural conversation, quite an accomplishment for a debut author.

This fun little book reminded me how important is the way our children see the world. It's when I stop to notice the way my children see the world that I really connect with them, and with the wonder of parenting. It's also led me into this crazy career.

After all, it was my four-year-old daughter's question, "Mommy, what would happen if I put these Nerds in water?" that launched Candy Experiments. More recently, when Highlights Magazine contacted me to request that I write an activity, I started floating wrapped candy bars in a bowl of water. My seven-year-old daughter came along, saw what I was doing, and jumped in with her own ideas. Soon she was inventing ways to sink my candy bars, which might someday end up in another article.

I loved reading "The Denim Jungle," and the reminder to connect with the way my children see the world. Good things happen when I do!

Visit to learn more about the book and the author. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Set candy on fire to see energy in action

This video by Bearded Science Guy shows how much energy there is in our candy. More calories=more flames!