Airdate: Nov 11, 2008
Scientist: Joan Harvey
KSC Flavor - Mint
If you're a flavor chemist, peppermint gum can suggest lots of different flavors.
"These are all three peppermint-type flavors. So one of the things that's so exciting to a flavorist is to be able to look at these products and come up with a new creation."
A peppermint is a peppermint, right? Not when it's your job to create a variety of mint flavored chewing gums. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Joan Harvey is the director of flavor development at a major candy company. To create gum that is either candy-like, bold-tasting, or breath-freshening, she draws from an array of peppermint derived oils and flavor compounds.
"I've pulled three examples of mint oils. We'll start with the first one, and it's a Willamette type, which is the region where peppermint can be grown. And it has a nice peppermint aroma, but it's not very strong. It's creamy and sweet. It just smells really great. From this product we can further distill it, so that it makes it more strong in the center of the body. So this product, stronger than the first one. It will have much more level of menthol in it. It's very sweet, and very fresh. The last product that we have is grown in India, and it basically has large amounts of menthol. So what they do with this plant is they crystallize out the menthol. When you smell it, it smells like mint, but not anything like these two guys, because these have a lot more menthol in them. This smells like a mint that I could pull out of my garden."
Now, if you know any 3rd- to 6th-graders with flavor ideas of their own, have them check out our new competition, at kidsciencechallenge.com, that's kidsciencechallenge.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.