More Pictures from DC

These photos were taken by the official photographers of the USA Science and Engineering Festival.  Since they just put the link up, I thought I'd share.  Here are a few highlights:

--Check out this picture to see how much sugar is in a bottle of orange soda (count the Life Savers on the white scale in the bottom right corner).  On the right you can see the chromatography setup--each clothespin held a paper in the water.  (At home you can just fold the paper to stand it up, fold the top of the paper over the lip of the cup, or attach it to a pencil laid over the top; this was mass-production chromatography.
--This picture shows my daughter demonstrating how sour Warheads are.  She's only 7 1/2, but she worked at the booth as many hours as I did.

Candy Experiment Tips

As families out on the internet report on their candy experiments, I'm learning new things myself!  For instance:

--one mom covers her baking sheet with tinfoil before melting candy on it.  Why didn't I think of that?  It would have saved me hours of scrubbing.
--one mom had a hard time pouring the density rainbow over the spoon, so she used a syringe instead.  Perfect rainbow.
--Monitor your candy as you melt it--if your microwave is hotter than mine, you definitely don't want to microwave a Starburst for a whole minute.

Thanks for sharing your ideas, and for helping me improve candy experiments.

Freezing Fun

Here's a candy experiments report from one reader, whose son Daniel and daughter Naomi got creative with the freezer:

"We found your site last year, and we love our new tradition of doing experiments on our Halloween candy! I wanted to share one our kids came up with. Perhaps it might be something others would like to do. We took the water experiments one step further and froze our candy. I've attached three pictures as examples. We used a cup and a small bowl for water with Nerds in it. You will see that they partially  dissolved and mixed with the water to different degrees depending on the size of the container. The third item used Multi-colored Lemonheads in a small bowl. They partially dissolved as well, and left a bubble pattern on the bottom.  [See her pictures below.]

For the experiment, we filled the containers with water, dumped the candy in, then immediately put them in the freezer. Depending on the size of the container, there were different effects. I am assuming that this is due to the time it takes to freeze - less or more time for the candy to change state. It might be interesting to try with milk or juice as well. And of course, different kinds of candy. Larger pieces, like jawbreakers or gumballs, would be interesting.

Thanks for your site!"

What experiments is your family coming up with?  Let us know!

 Candy Nerds in frozen water  1

Candy Nerds in frozen water 2 

Sour Lemonheads in frozen water

New Density Rainbow Video

Several people, including my own mother, have mentioned that the density rainbow is hard to do.  I hope this video will be helpful.


One mother emailed to say that at their recent candy experiments party, they stretched Laffy Taffy to a length of 1.75 yards!  My kids and I had to try it.  I wasn't sure how to stretch the candy that far, so I rolled it instead into a strand about 2 1/2 feet long (the length of my cutting board). 

When I was a child I made taffy with my grandmother once--the last step was to butter our hands and stretch it out.  It's funny to think that this reader is just treating taffy as it's supposed to be treated.

Wonder what other kinds of candy you can stretch that far?  We will definitely have to investigate this further.

DC photos

Memories from the USA Science and Engineering Festival:

The booth, located on Pennsylvania Avenue near Freedom Plaza

Experiments with kids, including Chromatography and Find Hidden Candy 

The crowd--we were swamped nearly every second

The Sour Bubble Acid Test with Warheads

Radio Interview

I've been interviewed about candy experiments for a radio show on how to use up Halloween candy.  It will air on New York station WCBS (880 AM) several times this Sunday.

If you'd like to listen online, use the link below and click the Listen Live button.

Let me know if you hear it!

Candy Lab or Perfumery?

From a candy experiments party with 7-year-old girls:
"Would you like to smell my green apple fragrance?"
"I call this one Christmas time!"
"This one smells like pancakes."
"I got smelling soup up my nose!"  (Must have gotten too close to her candy experiment water.)

I love candy experiments because kids come up with so many creative experiments on their own. I never would have thought of mixing for smells.


Candy melted during a recent candy experiment session.  We have a melted Zotz (top left), a melted Milky Way (top right), a blue M&M (left), a caramel apple lollipop (top center) a yellow Valentine's SweetHeart, melted Starburst and Laffy Taffy (left), and Pixy Stix (bottom right).  The Pixy Stix appeared unmelted at first glance, but when we poked them we found that many of the grains had melted together into a blob.

As one girl put it, looking at the melted candy puddles, "The heart's the winner!"

Acid Testing

Some people have asked me how many bubbles you can really see during the acid test, so I've posted links to my acid test Youtube videos on the Acid Test experiment page.  (Scroll down to the bottom.)

Candy Professor Spotlights

Since three different people sent me links to a New York Times article about Dr. Samira Kawash, who studies the history and cultural concepts of candy, I had to go look at her blog at  What a trove of interesting candy information!

Dr. Kawash has also just put up a post about candy experiments.  Thanks for helping to share the idea!