Mouthwatering discovery reveals what gives salt water taffy its strange texture


WASHINGTON — For those who’ve ever visited a Jersey Shore boardwalk, you’ve in all probability encountered these storefronts promoting salt water taffy – colourful, sticky candies that evoke reminiscences of summer time holidays. For many of us, the attract of taffy is its candy style and chewy texture. For researcher San To Chan, nonetheless, upon receiving salt water taffy in honor of their thesis protection, it posed an enchanting scientific query — why does it have that unusual texture?

In collaboration with researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Know-how and the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how, Chan delved into what provides taffy this distinct texture. The findings reveal the intriguing science behind the favored deal with.

“Taffy is a viscoelastic materials — it has properties between a viscous liquid and an elastic strong,” says Chan, the research’s writer, in a media release. “Evaluating the deformation habits of economic taffy to these of various lab-made sugar syrups and lab-made taffies allowed us to determine an important taffy ingredient (and materials construction) that governs taffy rheology.”

The image shows taffies of different flavors. It also shows a 3D model reconstructed by X-ray computed tomography, illustrating immiscible inclusions (oil droplets and air bubbles) in the grape-flavored taffy
The picture reveals taffies of various flavors. It additionally reveals a 3D mannequin reconstructed by X-ray computed tomography, illustrating immiscible inclusions (oil droplets and air bubbles) within the grape-flavored taffy. These droplets and bubbles give rise to the elasticity of taffy. (CREDIT: Chan et al.)

Opposite to its identify, salt water taffy doesn’t truly comprise any saltwater. It’s historically crafted utilizing table sugar, water, oil, and corn syrup, with added flavors and colours for a pleasant look and style. The concoction is boiled till it reaches a selected consistency, and upon cooling, it’s pulled, both manually or mechanically. This pulling course of introduces tiny air bubbles and disperses oil droplets all through the sweet, giving it its attribute chewiness.

“Taffy consists of oil droplets and air bubbles of varied sizes dispersed in a viscoelastic matrix (sugar syrup),” explains Chan. “In some sense, oil droplets and air bubbles are like rubber balls. When deformed within the taffy, they have a tendency to return to their unique, spherical form due to floor pressure. In different phrases, emulsification and aeration make taffy extra elastic, therefore, chewier.”

The research recognized that the presence of those oil droplets and air bubbles performs a pivotal function in taffy’s distinctive rheological, or flow-related, properties. Emulsifiers, like lecithin, can improve the sweet’s texture, making it chewier and making certain its flavors last more within the mouth.

By way of their analysis, the workforce goals to equip sweet makers with insights to create new variations of this deal with, mixing progressive flavors and textures whereas preserving the age-old craft of candy-making.

“Due to the bigger quantity of soy lecithin in comparison with industrial taffy, the lab-made taffy has a robust soy milk-like taste, which I like,” provides Chan.

The research is revealed within the journal Physics of Fluids.

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