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Warheads pack a pucker-inducing punch thanks to four sour-tasting substances called acids.

Illustrations by Magictorch; Aurora Photos/Alamy Stock Photo (Boy); wundervisuals/Getty Images (Lemons); Nataly 

STANDARDS

NGSS: Core Idea: PS1.A

CCSS: Language: 3

TEKS: Science: 3.2, 3.5A, 4.2, 4.5B, 5.2, 5.5C, 6.2; ELA: 3.10, 4.8, 5.8, 6.8

Extreme Candy

Some sweets are designed to make your tongue tingle, your eyes water, and your mouth burn! Here’s how scientists create the most extreme treats in your Halloween haul.  

wundervisuals/Getty Images

Pucker Power

A lot of candies make your mouth pucker. But Warheads are some of the sourest sweets around. The secret to Warheads’ extreme flavor is a mix of substances called acids. 

Warheads’ first sour blast comes from citric acid. This mildly sour acid is found in citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges. It triggers special cells on your tongue, called taste receptors, that detect sour flavors. “Citric acid gets your mouth ready to be tortured with more sour goodness,” says Kerri Harold, a spokesperson for Impact Confections, the maker of Warheads.

A lot of candies make your mouth pucker. But Warheads are some of the sourest sweets around. There’s a secret to Warheads’ extreme flavor. It’s a mix of substances called acids. 

Warheads’ first sour blast comes from citric acid. It’s mildly sour. It’s found in citrus fruits. Those fruits include lemons and oranges. Citric acid triggers special cells on your tongue called taste receptors. They detect sour flavors. “Citric acid gets your mouth ready to be tortured with more sour goodness,” says Kerri Harold. She’s a spokesperson for Impact Confections. It’s the company that makes Warheads.

The true jolt in Warheads comes from malic acid. That’s the compound that makes Granny Smith apples taste tart. Warheads also have two other acids: ascorbic acid and fumaric acid. These provide the sour candies’ grand finale.

Your saliva dissolves each acid in Warheads at a different rate. The combination gives the candies their sour taste from beginning to end.

Warheads’ real sourness comes from malic acid. It’s the compound found in Granny Smith apples. It makes the apple taste tart. Warheads have two other acids. They’re called ascorbic and fumaric acid. They give the sour candy its big finish.

Suck on a Warhead. Your spit dissolves each acid at a different rate. That’s why the candies have a sour taste from start to end.

Sirocco/Shutterstock.com (Bubbles); Keith Homan/Alamy Stock Photo (Pop Rocks)

Bursting bubbles of carbon dioxide gas make Pop Rocks go fizz, crackle, and POP!

Crackling Candy

Pour a pack of Pop Rocks into your mouth and the bits of candy start to crackle on your tongue. But how?

All hard candy is made by mixing sugar, corn syrup, water, and flavoring. The mixture is boiled. As the mixture cools, it hardens. Pop Rocks are made the same way—but with one more ingredient. Candy makers add carbon dioxide gas (CO2) to the sugary mix under high pressure. When the candy hardens, tiny bubbles stay trapped inside.

As the candy dissolves in your mouth, the bubbles burst! That causes the popping sensation you feel in your mouth.

Pour a pack of Pop Rocks into your mouth. The candy bits begin to crackle on your tongue. But how?

All hard candy is made from certain ingredients. They include sugar, corn syrup, water, and flavoring. The mixture is boiled. It hardens as it cools. Pop Rocks are made the same way. But they have one more ingredient. It’s carbon dioxide gas (CO2). Candy makers add it to a sugary mix under high pressure. As the candy hardens, tiny bubbles stay trapped inside. 

The bubbles burst when the candy dissolves in your mouth! That causes the popping feeling.

Lukasz Pawel Szczepanski/Shutterstock.com

The heat of Atomic FireBalls comes from substances found in cinnamon and hot peppers.

Can You Take the Heat?

Atomic FireBall candies are famous for their red-hot flavor. To achieve that fiery heat, candy makers use two ingredients that affect your mouth in different ways.

First, the candy delivers a blast of spice. This comes from a chemical called cinnamaldehyde (sihn-uh-MAL-duh-hyde). It’s the same oil that gives cinnamon its flavor. Cinnamaldehyde triggers taste receptors that sense irritating compounds. Raw garlic and horseradish can set off the same receptors.

After the cinnamon flavor comes a deeper heat. That heat comes from capsaicin (kap-SAY-uh-suhn), the compound that makes chili peppers spicy. Capsaicin triggers receptors on your tongue that detect temperatures higher than 43°C (109°F). It tricks your brain into thinking that you’re eating something superhot. Your body may sweat to try to cool down, even though you’re not actually overheating.

Atomic FireBall candies have a famous red-hot flavor. Two ingredients give them their fiery heat. These substances affect your mouth in different ways.

First, the candy delivers a spicy blast. This comes from cinnamaldehyde (sihn-uh-MAL-duh-hyde). It’s the chemical that gives cinnamon its flavor. Cinnamaldehyde triggers taste receptors. They sense irritating compounds. Raw garlic and horseradish can set off the same receptors.

A deeper heat comes after the cinnamon flavor. That heat comes from capsaicin (kap-SAY-uh-suhn). This compound makes chili peppers spicy. Capsaicin also triggers receptors on your tongue. They detect temperatures higher than 43°C (109°F). This tricks your brain. It thinks you’re eating something really hot. Your body may sweat to try to cool down. But you’re not actually burning up.

Illustrations by Magictorch; gresei/Shutterstock.com (Egg); iStockPhoto/Getty Images (Socks, Cheese, Fish); Tsuneo Yamashita/Getty Images (Jellybeans); Tobik/Shutterstock.com (Cheese Slices); xpixel/Shutterstock.com (Dirt); 

Jelly Belly created its dead fish jelly bean flavor by analyzing the stinky smell given off by real dead fish!  

Barf-Worthy Beans

Dead fish, moldy cheese, and stinky socks sound like the contents of a trash can. But they’re actually three flavors in a pack of Jelly Belly’s BeanBoozled jelly beans! In these packs, gross-flavored beans are mixed with yummy beans that look exactly the same. A white bean might taste like coconut or spoiled milk. You won’t know until you eat it!

To create a nasty flavor, scientists place an object—like a stinky sock—in a special machine. The machine heats the object until it gives off its smelly vapors. The device analyzes chemicals in the gases. Scientists experiment with different flavorings until they find a mix of compounds that are similar to those of the target object.

From barf to rotten egg, there are plenty of flavors to pick from, says Jelly Belly spokesperson Irena Miles. Your favorite “just depends on who you are.”

Dead fish, moldy cheese, and stinky socks sound like they belong in a trash can. But they’re actually three Jelly Belly flavors. They’re found in packs of the company’s BeanBoozled jelly beans! These packs don’t just have gross-flavored beans. They also have yummy beans. But the two look exactly the same. A white bean might taste like coconut. Or it might taste like spoiled milk. You won’t know until you eat it!

Here’s how scientists create these nasty flavors. They place an object like a stinky sock in a special machine. The machine heats the object. The object starts giving off smelly vapors. The device measures chemicals in the gases. Scientists experiment with different flavorings. Finally, they find the right mix. They’re similar to those of the target object.

There are plenty of flavors to pick from. There’s everything from barf to rotten egg. Your favorite “just depends on who you are,” says Irena Miles. She’s a spokesperson for Jelly Belly.

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