Nostalgia candy from Newsies!

I found some great old fashioned candy on sale at concession at the musical Newsies. Since the show is loosely based on a true story about newspaper boys who went on strike in 1899, the concession stand sells "nostalgia" candy--flavors that parents remember from childhood. I did a few experiments, and also learned some new facts!

Come see amazing high school singers and dancers perform Newsies at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, WA, this Friday and Saturday--and get your own nostalgia experiment candy!

Zotz arrived in the US in 1968 after being invented in Italy. The center fizzes when eaten, because a mix of baking soda and malic acid starts reacting to form bubbles in the presence of water (or saliva).

Cow Tales are produced by Goetze's Candy, which started making chewing gum in 1895. Fun fact about Cow Tales: though they look like most caramels, they contain flour, making them closer in substance to Tootsie Rolls.

Aftershock candy is based on Pop Rocks, which were invented in 1956 by a chemist hoping to trap enough bubbles inside candy to dissolve into carbonated soda. While he couldn't capture enough carbon dioxide to make soda, the trapped bubbles explode and escape nicely when added to water!

Halloween Chocolate Melting Experiments

Ever wonder why chocolate turns white? It's not getting moldy. In fact, the white stuff is just another form of chocolate crystals, called Chocolate Bloom.

Cocoa butter molecules stack themselves into many different forms of crystals, and some are more stable than others. (Think of the difference of strength between a single Lego tower and an interlocked Lego wall.) When you melt the chocolate, the cocoa butter cools into crystalline forms that are less stable. Cocoa butter gets pushed out of the chocolate structure and reforms into white crystals.

Chocolate bar at the end of The Great Melting Race

Chocolate Bloom

Broken chocolate: notice the fissures where the chocolate has separated

Cocoa Butter Crystals

Imagine Children's Museum Signing

I had a great time at the Imagine Children's Museum in Everett, WA last Saturday, where I got to meet lots of kids, parents, grandparents, and fellow authors! Thanks to

If you ever have to set up your own candy experiment table, these experiments are crowd pleasers:

Author Beth Bacon joined us at the museum when she read her new picture book, The Book No One Wants to Read.

The grownups also had fun! These staff members are using air pressure to squash marshmallows--how small can they get?

And the fun kept spreading--one experiment made it all the way to the ticket office.

The Great Candy Melt-off November 2019

The Great Candy Melt-off November 2019: Who will survive?

The contestants line up on a foil-lined baking sheet.

The oven heats to 250 degrees F, and in they go.

The powdered dextrose of the Colossal Sours starts melting into a transparent syrup.

The melting middles of the Skittles bubble out through the hard candy shell.

Tootsie Fruit Chews melt together into a gooey Spumoni colored puddle.

The Twix bars expand and split.

The M&Ms shine as the glaze melts, while the Hershey bar exudes tiny oily drops.

The Sunkist Fruit Gel pulsates as it melts.

After everything sits in a fine melty state for a long time, the final death round starts: 300 degrees.

The Skittles melt into a rainbow peacock tail.

The Toosie Fruit Chews bubble into a brown sticky puddle.

The Sunkist Fruit Gem melts into a sparkly pink puddle, but the sugar crystals in the coating stay solid. They’ll survive until the temperature hits 320 degrees.

The Colossal Sours have gone nearly completely transparent.

Meanwhile, the M&M’s have cracked open. The adjacent Hershey bar is soft to the touch, but the M&M chocolate is hard and brittle.

The Warheads Chewy Cubes look untouched--until you see the shining glaze. Though the cubes themselves look unchanged, they skate along a shining puddle of melted sour crystals

Leaving the winner: Tootsie Dots!

Aside from a slightly dry and crunchy exterior, they retained shape and texture thanks to a secret ingredient: food starch.

Don't leave this in your pocket for 28 years!

Candies like Starburst are made mainly from corn syrup, which doesn't crystalize. It's also hygroscopic, which means it absorbs water from the atmosphere. Because the sugars in the corn syrup aren't locked together in a crystalline structure, they dissolve easily when water is added. The water starts dissolving the corn syrup and creates a sticky syrup, which leaks out of the wrapper.

So if you're going to leave something in a jacket for 28 years--such as the pocket of your high school letterman jacket--make sure it's made from solid sugar. Mint Lifesavers have a stable crystalline structure and will last!

Dissolving edible candy grass

The Sea Turtle Conservancy reminds us that plastic Easter basket grass (left) lasts forever in the environment, often ending up in bird's nests and our waterways. BUt edible easter grass breaks down into starchy soupy water right away. No sea turtle danger here!

Snowman Candy Experiments

Candy decorations in a snowman not only brighten it up--they create a candy laboratory!

When candy touches the snow, the sugar starts to dissolve and mix with the melting snow. Since sugar water has a lower freezing point than pure water, it stays liquid, spreading colored streaks through the snow and melting whatever it touches.

The sugar water even melts the snow beneath the candy, causing it to tunnel downward.


The colored candy solution also spreads outward. Just as water soaks up paper towels, the candy water spreads up the spaces between the close-connected snow crystals, giving this snowman an orange halo around the eyes. Capillary action at work!

Frost feathers and candy frost

When our snow melted slightly in the sunlight, then refroze overnight, it made beautiful ice feathers. Apparently these hoarfrost* ice crystals are made from single tiny columns of ice, but since some of them grow at angles to the others, they create a feathered shape.

Here’s a way to make candy "frost" crystals in your kitchen from CANDY EXPERIMENTS BOOK 2:
Mix 1 tbps water with 3 tbsp xylitol, heating and stirring until the xylitol dissolves completely. Pour half the solution into a second bowl and put both bowls aside for several hours. The thin film of xylitol should crystallize into feathery patterns.

I also found a fun experiment for growing your own hoarfrost crystals at

*Hoarfrost (a new vocab word for me!): A deposit of interlocking ice crystals (hoar crystals) formed by direct deposition on objects