What exactly is the process that makes sourcandies so sour? What are the magic ingredients that createthat pucker? How do they get that infamous sandy coating? And why do you like it so much? This is what really makes sour candy sour.
Sour candies are typically made by addinga powdery coating to a fruit-flavored candy product.
This method is the reason why when you biteinto a piece of Sour Patch Kids candy, or a Sour Punch Straw, you get that sweet sensationwith a bit of pucker all at the same time.
Making the candy in a way that brings sourflavors out right on the surface helps deliver the super-sour flavor consumers want, andmanufacturers are using more acid to make it happen.
Most of our favorite sour candies incorporateone or more types of acids.
Citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, andfumaric acid are the most common choices, but there may be other types incorporateddepending on the type of candy and the flavor goal.
Because different acids add a different levelof sourness, manufacturers carefully select an acid mixture to create the perfect recipe.
“In my tongue, in the side.
It's so sour right now.
” Although sour candies use a number of acidsto get their mouth-puckering flavor, citric acid is one of the most prevalent.
“And in that mixing bowl we're adding citricacid, flavor, and color.
” Citric acid is a common element found in lemons, limes, grapefruits, and essentially all other citrus fruits.
If you've ever bitten directly into a lemonand felt your cheeks pucker up, you have citric acid to thank.
It's a chemical process that activates thesour taste receptors on your tongue, triggering that reaction some of us crave.
Citric acid is naturally found in citrus fruits, but to use it in candies it must be commercially produced in large quantities.
This is accomplished by fermenting sugar withmicroorganisms, creating one of the most popular ingredients to utilize not only in sour candies, but as an additive in other foods, supplements, and even cleaning products.
Sour candies are known for that immediatepucker hit that comes as soon as you put them on your tongue.
But some sour candies, like Warheads, arealso known for just refusing to let that sour sensation die down.
For some candy fans, that's exactly what they'recraving, and they can thank malic acid for that.
Malic acid is also natural, and can be foundin fruits like apples, apricots, and cherries, all of which have more mellow tartness thanlemons and limes.
In sour candy, it both boosts the sour factorand brings out more of the fruit.
It's also often coated in palm oil duringcandy making, which then melts in your mouth to create a long, slow release of sour flavor.
Part of the reason our taste buds react tosour candy is because of its pH level.
The term pH stands for power of hydrogen, and is a way to measure how acidic or basic any given compound is.
The scale runs from 1 to 14, with water measuringat 7, which basically means neutral.
The closer something is to 1 on the scale, the more acidic it is.
A very strong acid might have a pH of 1 or2.
Sour candies are packed with different typesof food safe acid, and as a result they have a pH level comparable to battery acid.
As it turns out, any tangy candy will typicallyhave a pH around a 3 or a 2.
5 on the scale, while sour candies measure around 1.
But Warheads Sour Spray wins the crown asit comes with a 1.
6 pH level.
The pH for battery acid is 1, just shy ofthe Warheads brand, so it's no wonder the acidity in sour candies causes our eyes towiden.
“This is where we add the pucker power.
” A big reason we're prone to enjoying the zingfrom sour candy is our taste buds.
Adults have an average of 2, 000 to 10, 000taste buds.
Most, of course, are on your tongue, but otherscoat the roof of your mouth and run all the way back to your throat.
These receptors can recognize four main tastesincluding sweet, salty, bitter, and of course, sour.
When a human chews or sucks on any kind offood, the chemicals in that item are released and they trigger the olfactory receptors inthe nose.
Your taste buds and those receptors work togetherto create that flavor experience.
Those chemical receptors also tell your brainall about it.
Once your brain is on in the act, it releasesserotonin to help you understand that what is in your mouth is, in fact, sour.
If you've ever had a sour beer, you've mostlikely consumed a beverage with lactic acid.
And that same ingredient is incorporated intosome sour candies.
Lactic acid is found in sour beers, alongwith some dairy products like yogurt and buttermilk.
Brewers use different techniques to introducelactic acid in beer, leading to the perception of sourness in the beverage.
Some methods include just adding lactic acidinto the beer when it's bottled, but others utilize it in the brewing process to complementor enhance a sour beer's flavor.
Lactic acid is a bit more of a lingering acid, with a more mild flavor, and it's also often used in sour candies for balance, similarto how it's used for sour beers.
So, it turns out the beer you're enjoyingand the candy your kid is eating have in more in common than you thought.
Sour candies, especially the extremely sourvariety that's popular today, are still relatively new in comparison to all of the many otherselections on the candy market.
One of the reasons for that might be the implieddanger of candies with names like Warheads and Toxic Waste.
So, it took a while for sour candy to catchon.
Eventually, candy that caused a little bitof amusing pain hit the market, beginning with the cinnamon-infused Atomic Fireballin 1954.
The all-time classic sour candy Lemonheadsoon followed in 1962, and customers couldn't get enough of either of them.
The rise in trick-or-treating at Halloweenonly added to the boom.
It wasn't until 1993 that the super sour candycraze really kicked off with the debut of Warheads.
Ever since then, kids and adults alike havebeen on the lookout for the most sour candy they can find.
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