FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving chemistry: American Chemical Society videos on the science behind turkey pop-up timers, tryptophan and more

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2012 — Does tryptophan really cause the bleary-eyed daze after a Thanksgiving meal? Why does that timer pop up from the Thanksgiving turkey at just the right moment? What causes bloating after eating?

For answers to those and other questions that could spark lively dinnertime conversation next Thursday, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is offering its traditional addition to the holiday menu: two Bytesize Science videos uncovering the chemistry behind Thanksgiving, available at

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The first video in the series debunks the long-held holiday myth that a compound in turkey known as tryptophan makes people especially drowsy after a Thanksgiving meal. The other video features an entertaining holiday lecture from Diane Bunce, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at The Catholic University of America and recipient of the ACS Helen Free Award for Public Outreach. Bunce’s lecture focuses on traditional Thanksgiving foods and answers questions, such as:

  • How does the pop-up timer in a turkey work?
  • Why do muffins rise, even when made without yeast?
  • Which antacids neutralize the most stomach acid?

For additional entertaining Bytesize Science episodes, go to The Bytesize Science series is produced by the ACS Office of Public Affairs.

For more entertaining, informative science videos and podcasts from the ACS Office of Public Affairs, view Prized Science, Spellbound, Science Elements and Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.

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A screenshot from ACS video highlight the chemistry behind Thanksgiving.
American Chemical Society videos highlight the
chemistry behind Thanksgiving.