Three Course Meals Coming Soon to a Gum Near You

October 25, 2010 at 8:56 am Leave a comment

Every time gum has more than one flavor, somebody starts talking about Willy Wonka. You know the scene: against Wonka’s express instructions, the unfortunate Violet Beauregard, ugly American chewing gum fanatic, pops that experimental stick in her mouth and enjoys the taste of luscious tomato soup followed by succulent roast beef, only to swell up like a super-size blueberry when the pie course comes along. What if? we wonder, as we chew thoughtfully on Stride Shift, hoping to capture the Wonka Magic as berry fades to faded mint.

Well, meat and pie lovers seeking full-meal gum satisfaction need dream no more, according to a recent report in The Telegraph (UK).

Actually, this story of invention and mastication begins in the pharmaceutical lab. For some time, drug makers have been using nanotechnology to create “microcapsules”: protective shells around the drug molecule that do not dissolve immediately in the stomach, allowing the drug to pass to the colon undigested.

Mad food scientists got wind of these slowly dissolving capsules and got to tinkering. If theses capsules can delay the release of drugs, could they be jiggered to delay the release of flavors?

Here’s the idea, according to food scientist Dave Hart of the Institute of Food Research (Norwich, UK):

“Tiny nanostructures within the gum would contain each of the different flavours. These would be broken up and released upon contact with saliva or after a certain amount of chewing – providing a sequential taste explosion as you chew harder.”

State-side, physicists at the University of Massachusetts have already begun to figure out how encapsulate flavor molecules in microcapsules. The Wonka future is now.

I’ve got to say, my first reaction to this story is: so this is what the finest scientific minds of our age are working on? I’d better get moving on that Chinese language class…

Gum. It’s getting more exciting every day.

Entry filed under: Current Candy News, Science. Tags: , .

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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

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