Candy in the News

NPR's comedy show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" just covered a story about using candy to help people. Apparently cops in Canada now hand out lollipops to calm drunks.

Hear more about it at the Wait Wait website, in the show from July 23.

Candy Experiments in Summer Sun

With 13 kids to entertain, a sunny summer afternoon, and a handy picnic table, it was time for candy experiments!

Ingredients for a successful outdoor session
* washable table
* large bucket of water (you won't want to be running to the tap all the time)
* small pitcher you can refill from the bucket
o for filling cups
o for washing sticky hands
* disposable cups (I recommend clear plastic because you can see through the sides as well as the top)
* bowl of baking soda, with more inside for easy refills
* spoons for soda and for stirring
* sunscreen
* small bowls for candy dispensing (no need to get out all the M&M's; using Minis, we only went through less than 1/2 a cup)
* seltzer water, because kids like watching all the bubbles when they put in the candy
* garbage container or sack (You'll generate a lot of wrappers)
* paper towels

Good candy
* M&Ms for color mixing
* Warheads for acid test
* Nerds for acid test, for bright colors, for looking for sugar crystals in middle
* Taffy, Tootsie Rolls for boat-making

As always, testing for acid was a huge hit, especially when we tried Warheads, Nerds, and Lemonheads (remember to let Lemonheads dissolve for a few minutes before adding soda).

We also competed to see who could shape taffy into boats that would float.  Most boats sank quickly, but a few winners stayed up for several seconds.  An 8-year-old girl was our champion, stretching several boats of Tootsie Roll (one of her secrets was to use at least two pieces), and a 5-year-old girl won for the longest time with a taffy boat.  To make a taffy boat, mold your taffy into a bowl shape, and be sure not to poke holes in the bottom.

Diverting kids with a few bottles of bubble solution might have been be cheaper, cleaner, and a lot less work.  But the kids had a great time (some played with candy for over an hour and a half!), and learned some science, and the candy experiments sure added a splash of color to an otherwise low-key afternoon.

More about Cocoa Butter Decorations

We just finished a super-long car trip through Utah, Colorado, and South Dakota.  I didn't get to tour the Sweet's candy factory in Salt Lake (another time!), but we did visit the La Chatelaine shop in Bozeman, Montana.  Racking our brains and trying to remember what city they were in, we were lucky enough to look them up after we'd finished our lunch in Bozeman, or we would have missed our chance.

Not only did we buy a box of gorgeous truffles, but the saleslady explained how they created the cocoa butter decorations. She told me that the patterns come pre-printed on sheets of plastic, which are applied to the truffles as they come out of the enrobing machine, still warm.  It made me wonder if I could warm the truffles up and use tissue paper to lift the patterns off, but I'm not sure I want to try.  Halloween candy is fair game for experimentation, but gourmet truffles are another matter.