Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stale Peeps Test

A friend of mine was recently given 2 enormous boxes of stale Peeps. What to do with them? Well, I could think of a few things. Like testing them in the microwave.

The verdict: stale Peeps don't expand nearly as much in the microwave as fresh ones. Here's proof. (The stale Peeps are the ones on the left.)


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Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Favorite Chromatography Candy

I just tried chromatography with Brach's Easter jelly beans. Success! Green separated a little, purple separated so much that the blue ended up several inches away from the red, and black rainbowed nicely.


Black Jelly Bean Chromatography

Sunday, April 11, 2010

No Brown M&Ms

Apparently Van Halen forbade brown M&Ms on their tours. According to a Rolling Stone blog post, "Buried in the contract was a clause that stipulated there would be a bowl of M&Ms backstage, with all the brown M&Ms removed. They used this to judge how closely the venue had followed the terms of the contract, because if they lapsed in this area the more technical aspects of the production were also suspect."

Van Halen apparently didn't do much M&M chromatography, or they would have known that brown M&Ms are the best!

*see also www.boomeropinion.com

Saturday, April 10, 2010

More Chocolate Bloom

I tried heating Hershey bars in the oven to create chocolate bloom. Several reheating cycles yielded nothing--until I pried the chocolate off the pie tin and turned it over. The bottom was covered in bloom.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chocolate Bloom

What's the best way to make chocolate bloom? This afternoon, the chocolate I microwaved and stirred had bloomed by evening, while the chocolate bars melted in the oven didn't.

I've bloomed chocolate in the oven before, but the microwave won out today. More research!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Preschool Easter Candy--with video!

Recently I presented Easter candy experiments at a local preschool. The kids were amazed.

First, I asked them to guess if these Robin's Eggs would sink or float.


Then I dropped them in water.
video

Surprise! The blue egg was solid milk chocolate (Brach's brand). The floating eggs were Whoppers.


I also showed them how to test candy for acid. These Sour Patch Jelly Beans, with a sour coating, worked great in baking soda water.
video

Post-Holiday Sales

I ran to the store this morning to stock up on discounted Easter candy. What started as a way to use up old candy has backfired completely--now I buy way more candy than ever before!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Robin's Egg Dye

Since Robin's Eggs stain your fingers so badly (I think I've seen kids use them as lipstick before) I figured they'd be great for chromatography. Sure enough, the color showed up nicely--well enough to show that there was no separation. The colors I tested (pink, yellow, and blue) were all pure dyes, not mixed.

Blue Robin's Egg Dye--Just Blue

"You should have known that already," my daughter scolded, saying I'd wasted my time. "After all, you're the candy experimenter."

Easter Egg Chromatography

Since we started candy experiments, my daughter is now in the habit of reading ingredient labels. Last night she read the label on the egg dye kit. "Mom," she said, "they only have dyes in red, yellow, and blue. So the orange, green, and purple must be mixed colors. Let's do chromatography on them!"

So, last night while I was cleaning up the mess, I got out my coffee filter paper and tried it. Indeed, I can see a faint but clear separation for purple, and maybe for green as well. Orange isn't so obvious, and it might be that one of the yellow dyes in the ingredient list is really orange (we certainly see orange after we separate M&M brown, even though no "orange" dye is listed.)

If anybody wants to try this, I would recommend wetting your dye tablet and dabbing it on the paper BEFORE you dissolve it in vinegar. You should get more intense color than I got using the dissolved dye, and the color separation might be easier to see.