Canfield students use chemistry to make candy canes

By Amanda Tonoli


Canfield High School chemistry students spent the day before winter break making a holiday favorite, variegated Disaccharide “J” Tubes – also known as candy canes.

A crafty scientific recipe allowed students to test their chemistry knowledge while making the seasonal goodies Friday morning.

It was obvious that making candy canes would be no easy feat based on the purpose listed in the lab directions – Purpose: “To observe the effect of torsion on the visible configuration of certain groups of macromolecules.”

The recipe includes ingredient names such as sucrose, plant starch, potassium hydrogen tartrate, extract of olea europaea and mentha peperita extract.

“We are just making candy out of solutions,” explained junior student Justin Spatar.

The idea for the lab came from an American Chemical Society discussion, said chemistry teacher Tom Slaven.

“One of the things we talk about is how cooking has so much chemistry, and no one really thinks about that,” he said.

That’s something junior student Anna Keffner said she appreciated learning.

“It’s cool to see how chemistry can go into real life,” she said.

Fellow junior Svetha Nallapaneni agreed.

“This is a project that keeps us focused and gets us more interested in [chemistry],” she said. “It’s something I think everyone actually wants to try.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the chemistry lab is getting students into the holiday spirit, said junior student Brooke Chrissman.

“It makes people want to come to school rather than skip right before [winter] break,” she said.

The final step to complete the lab involved making an analysis: “Perform a critical taste test comparing your product with a commercially synthesized product,” according to the lab instructions.

In other words, students got to taste their creations.

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