FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 21, 2014

Interesting facts about our favorite candy to mark National Chemistry Week

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2014 — Chemists around the world this week are helping children explore the chemical tricks that confectioners use to transform their ingredients into irresistible treats. These efforts to explain the science behind jelly beans, licorice, chocolate and other gooey delights are part of National Chemistry Week, Oct. 19-25, an annual event sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society. This year’s theme celebrates “The Sweet Side of Chemistry: Candy.” Among the interesting and curious scientific facts about candy are:

  • Hard candy is technically a glass — so much so that it is sometimes used to make the “bottle” that gets broken over someone’s head in a fight scene.
  • The same chemical that makes grapefruit taste sour — citric acid — is in sour-tasting candy.
  • Peppermint oil comes from a plant, and some research shows that candies flavored with it can help people concentrate better.
  • Ever wonder how they get liquefied cherries into a chocolate-covered cherry without leaving an injection hole? The candy actually starts with a hard cherry center that slowly softens after the chocolate is applied, thanks to a chemical called invertase that’s added to the recipe.
  • Cotton candy is almost pure sugar that has been melted and then spun. 
  • Gummies contain flavor, sugar and a seaweed chemical called carrageenan, which makes them chewy.
  • Licorice contains a smelly compound that’s found in a spice called anise.

During National Chemistry Week, chemists are encouraged to participate in chemistry demonstrations and other outreach events in schools, shopping malls, science museums, libraries and other public venues.  For kid-friendly, candy-themed activities that families can do at home, click here, and for a fun ACS Reactions video that explains why we love our sweets, visit

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama thanked ACS professionals and volunteers participating in this year’s National Chemistry Week “who are opening eyes, sparking imaginations and cultivating tomorrow’s leaders in chemistry.” In addition, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating the week beginning Oct. 19 as National Chemistry Week.

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