I got a call from a reporter from the Toronto Star newspaper a few weeks ago. I’ll give you three guess as to why he was calling? Mentos, Mentos or Mentos? That’s right, someone wanting to do another article on the Mentos and soda reaction… but this story was going to be different. From the outset of the call, I knew that the reporter, Patrick Evans, wanted more information than the typical question, “So, why does this explode?” He was interested in the history, the science and the viral nature of this experiment. He wanted to know why this experiment went viral on the internet in September of 2005 even though it had been seen on national television in the late 90’s? Also at issue was the controversy about why and how it worked. Today, some people believe that the reaction is purely physical – bubbles forming on the surface of the candy (nucleation sites). But Patrick Evans found a chemistry professor from Fordham University in New York City who believes that there might be an enzyme — an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase — in the Mentos that acts as a catalyst to speed up the reaction. Yes, the plot thickens.
Evans took his time to research the science, to ask questions and to give readers more than a quick eruption. If you read the article, you might notice that I was credited as being a high school teacher. Nope, I never taught high school – just elementary. But high school science teachers are fun to hang out with because they’ve got so many cool toys.