Pixy Stix Crystals?

You can make great crystals with Pixy Stix that seem to explode out of the bowl (one of the experiments from my first book, CANDY EXPERIMENTS)

but if you're in a hurry, and try heating them in the oven at 170, hoping this will speed up evaporation, you get Pixy Stix mushrooms instead!

I suppose that the heat prevented good crystal formation, causing the sugars to melt and stick together in more of a glassy state than crystalline form.

Smash it, Crack it: Turkish Taffy

It bends. It snaps. It shatters into small pieces. How can Turkish Taffy do all those things? Thanks to CandyFavorites.com, which sent me a box of Turkish Taffy to play with, I got to find out.

Kenny Weisen, who decided to bring the candy bar back after it was discontinued for decades, loved smashing the candy when he was a kid. "It was the first interactive candy. You smashed it and cracked it--it was like playing a game." (as seen in "Tropical Delights," Kid in a Candy Store on the Food Network)

Turkish Taffy is a non-Newtonian fluid. Newtonian fluids, like water, flow at the same rate unless you change the temperature or pressure. But non-Newtonian fluids flow at different rates when force is applied. If you smash a ball of Silly Putty, it cracks, while ketchup flows more freely under pressure. Turkish Taffy is also a fluid, which is why it bends if you gently push on it. But if you apply too much stress at once, by hitting it against the sidewalk, it thickens and breaks.

The experts remind consumers to crack the taffy BEFORE you peel off the wrapper, to keep shards from flying all over the place. As a candy experimenter, I have to say that watching the pieces fly is part of the fun. (Sweep up the mess fast, or it will leave sticky specks all over the floor.)

Find out more about how Turkish Taffy gets made in this segment from "Kid in a Candy Store."