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View Full Version : Little holes in Starlite mints


greatZebu
03-13-2002, 04:22 AM
Every time I eat a Starlite mint, I suck on it until it is about three-quarters of the way gone, then it develops little holes all through it before being further diminished. What the heck is going on? I can't think of other candies that do this, even other mints. Possibly the mints have structural weak points which are dissolved preferentially or something. But really, what is going on here--small holes in my mints shouldn't really be important enough for me to care about, but this issue is nevertheless driving me nuts.

For those who may not know, Starlite mints are those really common white peppermints with the red stripes. Next time you get a chance, give one a shot and watch for those mysterious holes. Incidentally, it has occurred to me that all of the mints that I remember exhibiting this strange behaviour came from the same couple of places. If your independent testing indicates that I am nuts and this phenomenon is bogus, please let me know and reveal my mints as shoddy impersonators that give mints a bad name.

femtosecond
03-13-2002, 07:28 AM
Your tongue is round(ed).
When you're working on that mint, the contact area and the licking pressure are greater
in the middle of it, so it's in the middle where it dissolves first wholly away.

Same principle as trying to get a piece of wood flat with a rounded rasp. Won't work well.

Yes, it's common. I know my (flat) cough tablets did that, too.

I half-heartedly believe some mints have a dented shape to facilitate the hole formation,
giving you the pleasure of relief when you can breathe fresh air through the hole. "ffffeh, shaaarp!" :p

CzechHistory411
03-13-2002, 10:55 AM
I half-heartedly believe some mints have a dented shape to facilitate the hole formation,
giving you the pleasure of relief when you can breathe fresh air through the hole.

May I point out the heretofore uncelebrated genius and/or foresight of the R&D people at the Lifesaver company?

But I think greatZebu is talking about something different. The phenomenon is more like a swiss-cheesing--lots of little holes that appear rather suddenly, rather than a single hole that gradually appears in the center.

I recently experienced this firsthand with an unbranded restaurant after dinner mint. I was driving along, slurping and sucking away, thought, "This feels weird," stuck out my toungue in the rear-view mirror, and there it was: the mint, riddled with holes, like it had been blasted with a little shotgun.

As to why the holes are there, my guess would be that they are air bubbles that are introduced in the manufacturing process, and are revealed as outer layers of the mint are dissolved. The mint QA people probably remove all the mints with surface bubbles, so only the ones with internal flaws get through to the unsuspecting consumer.

--CH

abel
03-13-2002, 12:23 PM
<hypothesis="wild" src="none" alt="unproven">
I am not a peppermint manufacturer (IANAPM?), but maybe there are tiny peppermint molecules or some other ingredient that dissolves faster than the main mass of the peppermint.
</hypothesis>

We have peppermints at my college cafeteria and that always happens with them. I used to wonder about it, but I never thought to ask here. Now the quest for knowledge of all things peppermint will finally be fulfilled.

And on a side note, whoever can come up with a way to remove these holes will probably make a mint. ;)

Hehehe, what an awful joke. You may shoot me at your leisure.

slortar
03-13-2002, 12:57 PM
Candy, being a molten substance during its formation, often has a lot of bubbles in it. When you disolve the candy's outer layers, the bubbles are revealed. Hence, you get holes.

femtosecond
03-13-2002, 02:05 PM
May I point out the heretofore uncelebrated genius and/or foresight of the R&D people at the Lifesaver company?
Bah. Pre-manufactured holes! Where's the relief when you can breathe right from start?
That's cheating!

Hard peppermint candy is nothing but (colored) sugar syrup kneaded together with peppermint oil. It's soft because it's heated, but not molten.
The kneading seems to create air pockets, so bubbles may be a sign of quality: thorough kneading. Or quick and sloppy. Dunno.
If you would unsuspectingly encounter a accumulation of undiluted oil that has a sharp enough boundary to create a hole when dissolving, you're likely to go :eek:.

Air bubbles in candy seem not uncommon, as this picture (http://www.candyusa.org/Health/holes.shtml) from this list (http://www.candyusa.org/Health/naturaloccur.shtml) shows holes in chocolate as a 'result of manufacture', but chocolate is poured liquid in a mould, maybe a different case.

:slaps forehead: Of Course! Where do you think the holes in your teeth come from, if not from out of your candy?
Just spit the holes out.

I have nothing to add but the obligatory link to the related Why do wintergreen Life Savers spark when crunched? (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_129.html)

greatZebu
03-13-2002, 03:27 PM
The idea that the mints have little air pockets in them that become the holes sounded pretty likely to me, so I decided to try and confirm it with a little experimentation. So now my desk is convered with dissected mint fragments, and I can definitively report that mints do indeed have small air pockets in them, but they are quite tiny conmpared to the swiss-cheese effect that I was so troubled by. At this point, the most likely explanation seems to be the presence of small air pockets which weaken the surrounding mint material, leading to relatively large holes.

Finagle
03-13-2002, 04:43 PM
Originally posted by greatZebu
At this point, the most likely explanation seems to be the presence of small air pockets which weaken the surrounding mint material, leading to relatively large holes.

Close, but more likely the tiny air pockets provide more surface area for your saliva to attack and dissolve. And as the holes get bigger, the process accelerates.