Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sweet Science

With all the holidays around this time of year, I am sure we aren't the only family that ends up having way too much candy laying around our house. Most years, we have barely recovered from the Halloween sugar fest when the Christmas goodies start arriving. To keep my kids from overdosing on their trick or treat loot this year, I've been consuming large quantities myself. While I do have a sweet tooth, and since I'm trying to save my kids from eating the junk, like a good mother should, and it really is for the good of my family, nevertheless, just a few days into this sugar frenzy, and I'm feeling it. I'm sluggish, my pants feel too tight and all of a sudden, I'm craving twice as much sweetener in my coffee. I can see I have a problem here.

The pile of wrappers in the trash is just plain embarrassing, but I do find myself taking out the trash more often, even if it is only to hide what we've been eating. My kids have still been consuming way more sweet stuff than usual despite the dent I put in their stash, and I've seen the difference in them too. There's been more bickering and more crankiness, and way more overall spastic actions. Of course bouncing, jumping, and general energetic fun is just part of childhood, but these days, my kids are overdrive.

We had already thrown away all the candy of mysterious origins and given away a ton of good stuff as well. But we still have a pile. Fortunately, I came across a website with candy experiments. It has all sorts of fun ways to learn about science, and get rid of excess candy at the same time. So, in the name of science, and of saving my family from the horrid results of a bad diet full of sugar, chemicals and food dyes, we decided to try some experiments. My kids were feeling sick of sweets themselves, and readily agreed to donate some candy to science so we could experiment with it.

We started with soaking an M&M in water to see how it dissolves. I am a little grossed out at the way the letter "m" floated to the top, and remained totally intact...for days.
Apparently, the letters are made from "edible ink" that doesn't dissolve in water, but I'm wondering, just what does this "edible ink" dissolve in? We're hoping it dissolves in stomach acids or my entire family is going to have a large number of "m"s floating inside of us after all of the M&Ms I've consumed in the last week.

In another experiment, we learned that you really might want to supervise candy being melted in the microwave, as flashing, popping, and small, contained explosions may occur, and will be followed by terrible, smelling smoke, and possibly the sound of smoke alarms.

We also plan on trying some of the other candy experiments like the density rainbow, and the acid tests. I'm curious if the chocolate bloom experiment is more successful with cheaper chocolate with hydrogenated oils, or with good quality dark chocolate (although I don't know if I'm willing to sacrifice good chocolate for this.) My boy child also wants to try to see what happens if we light everlasting gobstoppers on fire. Will they melt or burn? It looks like we'll have a weekend full of fun candy science experiments ahead of us, and maybe our diet will be somewhat closer to normal next week. Maybe when our next big batch of candy arrives at Christmas, we'll throw a candy experiments party. Maybe I'll even just do it right away instead of gorging myself and feeling sick for a week first. For now, I'm off to clean up the microwave....