What Is Cheetos Cheese Dust? And 8 Other Junk Food Mysteries Solved

Will gum really get stuck in your stomach for seven years?
junk food mysteries


What Is Cheetos Cheese Dust? And 8 Other Junk Food Mysteries Solved


The Daily Meal has rounded up answers to nine of the most pressing questions you may have had about your favorite junk food, but were too afraid (or never thought) to ask. After all, when you eat an apple, chances are you’re just eating an apple, whether it’s organic, GMO, or lab-grown. But the wonders of artificial flavors and colors in processed foods never cease. 

How Are Jelly Belly Flavors Created?


There are four flavor scientists at the Jelly Belly factory, and creating a flavor is an extensive process that is unique to each bean. To make the pomegranate flavor, for instance, the team tasted almost every variety of pomegranate juice out there, according to The Atlantic. They then vaporized their preferred juice’s molecules using a gas chromatograph, adding “a little bit of this and that.” One secret ingredient is used to suppress sweetness for savory Jelly Belly flavors, and esters are added to create fruitiness. Some flavors are created by mixing others together, and all are tested extensively before their release. 

How Do Pop Rocks Pop?

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All candy is made from a combination of water and sugar, but Pop Rocks add a little something extra: 600-psi of pressurized carbon dioxide. When you put Pop Rocks in your mouth, the candy shells shatter, exposing the “fizzy” pressurized air. The Pop Rocks method is actually patented. You can read about the entire process here.   

How Does Cotton Candy Become Fluffy?


As a kid, you were probably focused on the saccharine taste of cotton candy, but as an adult, the science behind cotton candy is even more fascinating. So how does one turn colored, powdered sugar into fluffy, candied cotton? With centrifugal force. Add water, and the spinning cotton candy machine quickly melts the sugar into a hot liquid. Then, when the liquid comes out of the small holes in the machine, it is whipped and aerated, causing the sugar to quickly cool and solidify into a cotton-like substance. 

How Many Licks Does It Take to Get to the Center of a Tootsie Pop?

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Ah, the age-old question from one of the most popular marketing campaigns of all time. You can stop licking: Tootsie has gotten to the bottom of this one. Purdue University’s licking machine (yes, that’s a thing) determined the answer to be 364, but volunteer student researchers averaged 252 licks. So what’s the most accurate answer? The world may never know. 

What Is Cheetos Cheese Dust?


Technically, cheese dust, whether found in packets of Kraft macaroni and cheese, on Cheetos, or on Doritos, is made from the same thing: dehydrated processed Cheddar cheese. Most cheesy snacks are made by spray-drying (blasting liquid cheese into a chamber with hot air). This makes the cheese evaporate, and a solid substance is left behind. Add some artificial neon orange coloring and you’ve got yourself a Cheetos coating.

What Is Red Dye No. 40, and Is It Toxic?


Red Dye No. 40 has got to be one of the most controversial additives ever. As one of the most popular food dyes of all time, Red Dye No. 40, also known as Allura Red AC, is made from coal tar, as are most artificial dyes. It can be found in many red-colored candies and processed snacks, even though scientists have linked the dye to hyperactivity in children. But beyond a study that showed that Red No. 40 could lead to impotency in rats, no conclusive evidence has swayed the FDA to ban the substance.  

What Makes American Chocolate Unappealing to Brits?


You’ve probably heard this one before: a chocaholic from across the pond scoffing at the “waxy, unappealing” taste of Hershey’s chocolate. The Brits practically had a collective heart attack when Cadbury announced a recipe change. So what’s going on? The biggest difference is that in the U.K., a product must contain no less than 25 percent cocoa solids to be considered milk chocolate, while in the United States, the number is at least 10 percent chocolate liquor (not solids). American chocolates like Hershey usually add more sugar and use emulsifiers to separate the cocoa butter and cocoa. 

Why Do So Many People Hate Licorice?


Licorice is probably the most polarizing candy of all time. Either you love it, or the pungent, medicinal taste offends your taste buds. Although scientists are not yet aware of a “licorice hate” gene, we do know that glycyrrhizin, the natural sweetener found in the licorice root, tastes like artificial sweetener to many, producing an unpleasant aftertaste. 

Why Is Chewing Gum Insoluble?


Unlike almost any other edible substance known to man, chewing gum holds up to hours of chewing without breaking down. The gum base, whether natural or artificial, is what makes all gum insoluble (and is probably why that “gum takes seven years to digest” myth came about). The exact composition of gum base is a trade secret, but is usually made from latex to give the gum stretch, fillers, and resins. The resins are oil-soluble, which means that your saliva won’t be able to break them down. Now that these junk food mysteries have been solved, we have one more question for you: How much did breakfast cost the year you were born?

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