What is it about?

In some sense, all chefs are experimental soft matter scientists. They intuitively understand how the materials they handle will deform and interact. Furthermore, their recipe is often optimized, resulting in the best texture and taste of the dishes. What is the physics hidden behind those recipes? As the first step of our journey, we explain the rheology involved in making saltwater taffy, the famous American confection.

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Why is it important?

A large variety of ingredients are often included in a taffy recipe. Despite such complexity, we show that the chewy texture of taffy solely originates from its embedded air bubbles and oil droplets, as confectioners have hypothesized from their experience. We also show that changing the temperature and flavor of the taffy has the same effect as changing how quickly we deform the taffy, resulting in a so-called "Time-Temperature-Taffy" Superposition (TTTS) principle. Our findings may help confectioners and sugar artists develop new materials with specific textures and shelf-life.


As automation is becoming more dominant in the culinary industry, I hope our article will interest people to learn more about the history, cultural heritage, and creativity of different food recipes. The craftsmanship and knowledge involved in culinary practices are to be appreciated.

San To Chan
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The rheology of saltwater taffy, Physics of Fluids, September 2023, American Institute of Physics,
DOI: 10.1063/5.0163715.
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