Bubbling Zotz

Zotz candies bubble when you bite into their super-sour center. Try this Zotz candy experiment to learn why.

What you need:
  • Zotz candy
  • bowl of water
  • table knife or tool to smash Zotz

What to do:
  1. Unwrap the Zotz and put candy in water.
  2. Use the knife handle to crack the candy. Does the candy start fizzing?
What's happening:
A look at the ingredient list reveals why the candy fizzes. Besides sugar and corn syrup, colors, and flavors, the candy contains malic acid, tartaric acid, and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). When you crack the candy to let in the water, the acids react with the sodium bicarbonate to produce the carbon dioxide bubbles. It's the same reaction that you have with a vinegar and baking soda volcano.

Next time you try Zotz candy, remember to enjoy the bubbles. You're eating a self-contained acid test!

If you can't view the video, here's my six-year-old's illustration of the process.

Dancing Valentine Hearts Candy Experiment

Bubbles attach to conversation hearts, making them bob up and down in club soda.

What you need:
  • Conversation hearts such as Brach's or Sweethearts
    (avoid Brach's Heart2Heart candies)
  • Bottle of clear soda pop or club soda

What to do:
  1. Open the bottle of club soda
  2. Drop the hearts into the bottle and put the lid back on.
    (Variation: pour the soda into a glass and drop in the hearts.)
  3. Watch the hearts rise to the surface and then sink.
  4. Tap or shake the bottle to make the hearts sink again.
  5. If the hearts don't float, break or chop a few hearts into small pieces and try again.

What’s happening:
The rough surface of a conversation heart provides perfect places for bubbles to form (nucleation sites). When the heart is dropped in club soda, the carbon dioxide dissolved in the water forms bubbles that make the hearts rise. If you shake the glass to knock the bubbles off of the hearts, the hearts sink again.

From the book Candy Experiments by Loralee Leavitt

Cold Water Comets With M&M's

Use cold water currents to make M&M’s into comets!
What you need:
  • clear glass baking dish (9 x 13 inch or larger recommended)
  • warm water
  • ice pack, or zip bag full of ice

What to do:
  1. Fill the dish with about 1 inch of warm water
  2. Place the ice pack at one end of the dish
  3. Place a few M&M’s in the water near the ice pack
  4. Watch the color spread. Does it make a comet tail?

What’s happening:
The ice pack cools the water around it, making it denser. The denser water sinks to the bottom of the pan. This pushes the bottom layer of water towards the other side of the pan, carrying the dissolving candy color along. The white coating underneath the candy shell adds white streaks as it dissolves.

  • To make a comet without using ice, place the M&M’s on one side of the dish, then lift the edge of the dish and slide a towel underneath to prop it up. Gravity will pull the dense sugar water downhill, making a comet.
  • If you don’t have M&M’s handy, try this with food coloring.

From the book Candy Experiments
Idea adapted from the book Awesome Ocean Science by Cindy Littlefield

Christmas candy cane optical illusion?

Can you slice a candy cane in half without touching it?

What you need:
  • clear glass
  • candy cane or candy stick
  • water
  • oil

What to do:
  1. Pour water into the glass.
  2. Pour oil into the glass to make layer about 1 inch deep.
  3. Put the candy cane in the glass and rotate it. When you turn it, does the candy cane seem to come apart?

What's happening:
Water, oil, and air each slow down light a little bit differently. This means that the light bends a little bit where the air meets the oil, and where the oil meets the water. The result? A candy cane that looks chainsawed into segments.

From the book Candy Experiments 2 by Loralee Leavitt