Airdate: Oct 29, 2008
Scientist: Joan Harvey
Science Diary: Flavor - Layers of Flavor
For flavor chemists, designing long-lasting chewing gum flavors is a high tech process.
music; ambience: atomizer
“One of the things in chewing gum is to have the flavor last longer than the consumer can stand to chew the gum.”
Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Joan Harvey is a flavor chemist who develops new flavors for chewing gum at a major candy company. Choosing the ingredients is one matter, but deciding how to deliver those flavors takes some scientific know-how.
“Ingredients that the developers select to use can drive how my flavor compounds either adhere to the gum base or release from the gum base. Liquid likes to be in the gum base. It’s slow to release. If I use just a liquid flavor, it doesn't release for the first two minutes, so I’m just chewing on and I’m getting sweetness, and that's all I get. If I spray dry it, the spray dry is very water soluble, so as soon as I put the gum in my mouth, it starts to release. That flavor will give me an initial high impact, but then I’ve got nothing left.”
To deliver consistent and long-lasting flavor, Joan Harvey uses a number of technologies to build layers of flavor. One of these technologies involves encapsulating liquid in powder.
“We'll dissolve the liquid in a water and add an emulsifier and homogenize it. We actually will pump it through an atomizer, and this head spins very quickly, distributing tiny droplets. And I'll use an ingredient that will capture all of it inside the powder. So when I take it out at the end of the process, you can't smell it. It's completely encased in this carrier.”
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Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.