When you open a bag of Cheetos, have you ever wondered what you’re actually eating, and why your hands always end up coated in neon orange cheese dust? The back of the nutrition label is not very helpful — the long names of emulsifiers and preservatives are hard enough to pronounce, let alone decipher. As it turns out, there’s a pretty unique science behind that cheese dust, found not just on Cheetos, but also on Doritos and other snacks.
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. For instance, how does cotton candy get its signature fluffy, cotton-like texture? And why can I chew chewing gum for hours, but my saliva and teeth never break the rubber-like substance down?
We have set about answering your burning junk food questions, and will debunk some myths along the way. For instance: Cheetos cheese dust is not radioactive, and gum will not get stuck in your digestive tract for seven years.
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?
Photo Modified: Flickr/Frankie Leon
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.