I knew that by naming my new fall product, “Halloween Math and Food Science,” I’d be getting controversial because of the word “Halloween.” However, let me just say up front, this is not truly a “Halloween” project in the sense of the word “scary,” dressing up or any of that. (Post may contain affiliate links). This is Halloween Food Science Experiments with a twist.
My intention when creating this fun project was to give your kids something they could play with that would help them wrap their minds around the reality of what the candy of the season is all about. And also to work in some fun (and challenging) math and food science into the mix.
In order to help you know what is in it, and also, if you have already purchased this Halloween Food Science Experiments unit study, I wanted to give you a better idea of how to use it. I’ve decided to post about our own experiences the past couple of weeks in using this awesome (even if I do say so myself) Halloween Food Science Experiments Unit Study.
Halloween Food Science Experiments
I created this Unit Study to be as hands-on as possible. There are a few questions that have to be answered, however. For example, I required my son to fill out the first page on his own. (If you know my son, you would know this in itself is a major accomplishment).
Moving on, Nathan had to choose 3 of his favorite candies from the list at the bottom of the worksheet. He also had to purchase them at the local grocery store. His favorites are candy corn, Sour Patch Kids, and Peeps.
My son was also required to research if any of his chosen candies contained ingredients suspected of causing allergies or behavioral problems in children.
So, Nathan purchased the candies, brought them home, and read the ingredient list. He was surprised to discover that two out of the three candies (Sour Patch Kids and Peeps) contained Red Dye Number 40. This particular artificial color is associated with allergies and behavioral problems in sensitive children. Red 40 is also associated with cancer.
The candy corn was purchased at a specialty store, and was more expensive. Though it wasn’t declared to be natural only, it was Jelly Belly brand. It’s interesting to note that the Jelly Belly brand candy corn did not contain Red 40. It did have other artificial colors, however.
Natural Versus Artificially Colored Candies
The artificial colors in the three regular candies also include Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 3, Yellow 5, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 1, and Blue 2 Lake. (List not exhaustive). Some of these colors are in the Skittles and M&Ms we also purchased for the math part of the unit study.
There are four factors most people consider when they purchase candy: Availability, Cost, Look, and Taste. . The first thing we came across was how difficult it was to find a natural version of just one candy: Candy Corn.
My husband first brought my son to the regular grocery store where we shop. We live in an Urban Metropolitan area, so this will drive the point of how difficult it can be to find a natural substitute product such as candy.
So, the regular grocery store, despite that it has a natural foods section, did not carry naturally colored candy corn. As a result of this, my husband and Nathan went to a nearby store called, “Natural Grocers.” They did not have natural candy corn in stock either. However, we did discover that Natural Grocers carries the Yum Earth candy corn in some of its stores throughout the U.S.
Before I compare cost, I would like to provide a short economics lesson. (That’s right, economics is math)!
You may have noticed that candy is less expensive at this time of year. This is a basic law in economics: The Law of Supply and Demand.
Here’s how it works. First of all, candy manufacturers expect that people will buy larger amounts of candy. As a result, they manufacture larger amounts of candy in anticipation of the greater demand for candy. Second of all, grocery stores also anticipate a greater demand. As a result of this, most grocery stores purchase candy in larger quantities. The grocery stores get a better deal when they purchase larger quantities from the food manufacturers. The food manufacturers have a large enough supply to offer them a larger amount and a better price. Thus, the savings is passed down to the consumer (customer).
This can be seen at many other times of the year as well. For example, during the summer, picnic items such as paper plates, napkins, ketchup, mustard, and soda pop are usually available at a much lower price. Also, Super Bowl Sunday is another time when you can stock up on cheap snacks. And you can probably think of a lot of other examples.
The second factor we came up against was the cost. For comparison, we priced the regular “Brach” candy corn at our grocery store. For 8 ounces, the price was $3.00. The specialty candy corn that didn’t have the RED 40 was $3.69 for 3 ounces.
Natural Grocers was selling its Yum Earth Product for $5.49 for 5 ounces. I ended up purchasing the same brand from an online natural candy website: https://www.naturalcandystore.com/.
The cost of the candy corn at the Natural Candy Store was $5.99 for 5 ounces.
I got a 15% discount. However, I had to pay for shipping, which was about $6.00. Because I really needed this candy for the experiment, I bought a few extra things, including a few suckers and some natural food dye, to make it worth my while. At any rate, if all you bought was the one package of candy, it would cost about $12.00. OH BROTHER!
So, that’s $3.00 for 8 ounces of regular Brach candy corn versus $12.00 for 5 ounces of Yum Earth natural candy corn. If you want to compare cost for cost, take the total amount of the package and divide it up by the number of ounces. For example, 3.00 divided by 8 = 37.5 cents an ounce for the regular candy corn. For the Yum Earth, including shipping, $11.99 divided by 5 = $2.40 per ounce! If you can find it at a Natural Grocers near you, the cost is $5.49 for 5 ounces. 5.49 divided by 5 = $1.10 per ounce. Obviously, that’s a HUGE cost difference!
Unfortunately, part of the problem is related to the economic law of supply and demand as well. Because there are so few people who are either educated, motivated, or even interested in natural candy, the demand is low. Not only that, but it is apparently a lot harder to make a satisfactory tasting and looking product using only natural ingredients. Plus it is more expensive to do this as well.
So, as the consumer, we can become more educated on the cost and benefits of buying natural versus artificial colored candies. Unfortunately, the natural candies are still candy, and still have lots of sugar. So, there’s also that, right?
But at least when you make your decisions, they are informed decisions! For example, if you have children who have allergies, it might be worth it once or twice a year, to splurge and buy the healthier alternatives. But that is a personal decision that each family must make.
Taste and Look
We just got the natural candy corn in the mail on Saturday. So we taste tested them. Personally, I liked the regular candy corn better, though they were both acceptable. However, Nathan didn’t notice a difference. The look was slightly different however. See picture to the right. Can you tell which one is the natural version? Hint: there are two regular and three natural. 😉
This coming week, Nathan will be researching the parsnips he purchased this weekend. This is the unfamiliar vegetable he chose to learn more about.
The fruit or vegetable research project is also part of the “Halloween Food Science Experiments and Math” unit study. Click here to learn more.