Saturday Morning Science Experiment: The Gummi Bear Gets It

Gummi snuff film

By Maggie Koerth-Baker

Grab your favorite sugary cereal and pull up a seat. It's time for Saturday Morning Science Experiment! This week, we're finding out what happens to a gummi bear (i.e., sucrose) when it's dropped into molten potassium chlorate.

Got a video you want to see on Saturday Morning Science Experiment? Drop me an email, I'm taking suggestions.

Gummi bear thumbnail photo courtesy Flickr user Furryscaly, via CC.

Published 7:00 am Sat, Oct 10, 2009

About the Author

Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at From August 2014-May 2015, she will be a Nieman-Berkman Fellow at Harvard University. You can follow Maggie's adventures in the Ivory Tower by subscribing to The Fellowship of Three Things newsletter.

50 Responses to “Saturday Morning Science Experiment: The Gummi Bear Gets It”

  1. bondjamesbond says:

    now, of course, we will no longer be allowed to take gummi bears on airplanes…

  2. slideguy says:

    You fiends!! You… You… You… DICK CHENEYS!!!

  3. jewelley says:

    how many gummis will fit in a quart-size ziplock…

  4. noodlez says:

    That was one of my dad’s, high school chemistry teacher, favorite experiments to perform for his chemistry classes.
    Very cool!

  5. lumpi says:

    Something fun I actually did with gummi bears as a kid: Drop one in a big glass of water. Leave it in there for a day or so. It will grow and grow until it fills the whole glass!

  6. holtt says:

    Lumpi, that’s how they make Aerojel :)

  7. Sekino says:

    LOL that was hilarious! I expected it would melt and turn weird colours or something. What a reaction! :D

    • Chris the Tiki guy says:

      Sekino, if your “What a reaction” was a nod to Don Showalter in the World of Chemistry videos, you win my person of the week award. You don’t really get anything for the award, but I will think highly of you until distracted by something shiny…

  8. Mitch says:

    So don’t let your kids eat Gummi Bears when they’re playing with molten potassium perchlorate.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You can try that science mumbo jumbo with the other peons, but I know that reaction is a result of Satan being released from his natural sucrosey habitat.

  10. Anonymous says:

    awwwwww, poor gummi bear! Where are animal rights activists when you need them? Isn’t this a veiled suggestion toward animal cruelty? (Dear Lord, please know I’m kidding; never know with these teabagging wackos on the loose packing heat & dreaming of doing Beck & Limbaugh in a threesome)

  11. aagblog says:

    That gummy bear was screaming!


    As for suggestion, do they need to be Saturday Morning Chemistry Experiments, or can they be Saturday Morning Physics Experiments?

  13. KurtMac says:

    Not to supersede whatever videos may appear in future episodes of SMSE, but if you like science, physics and chemistry I suggest you check out the following three YouTube channels that come from the University of Nottingham:

    Absolutely my favorite YouTube channels out there which are criminally underwatched. PeriodicVideos is exactly that, each video about a different element on the Periodic Table and experiments that explain each one. SixtySymbols is all about explaining hard-to-grasp physics and astronomy terms and theories. NottinghamScience is a behind-the-scenes look at Nottingham University’s science departments.

  14. Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

    Saturday morning science experiments can be from any of the sciences. :)

  15. Anonymous says:


    “The reaction is said to be product-favored.” Arnold, eat your heart out.

  16. danlalan says:

    I’m thinking any saturday morning biology experiments that would pass the yawn test would be unethical, illegal, or both. I could be wrong, tho…

  17. jjasper says:

    Gummi Bears,
    Combusting here and there and everywhere,
    Molten potassium chlorate that’s beyond compare,
    We are the Gummi Bears!

  18. Felton says:

    Of course, I don’t mind experimentation on gummi worms. They’re not mammals.


    The bright blue flame indicates this was a particularly sweet donut.

  20. xian says:

    the sound… I will never forget that horrific sound…

  21. Apreche says:

    Looks like there a lot of energy release in that reaction there. We should make a gummi-bear powered car.

  22. Anonymous says:

    My 10-year-old started with COOOOOOL! and ended up with “they’re murdering gummy bears”….which transitioned into — whoa, look at the chunks flying out of the test tube!

    I’m so proud of my little geek.

    Bring on more videos!

  23. t3hmadhatter says:

    I never knew those little bears could scream so loud… why don’t they do that when being eaten?

  24. sk8rboi69 says:

    They hibernate in your colon!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm. . .isn’t KCl what most states use for lethal injections? Course anyone who could get potassium chlorate would probably know that already.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Wife: The gummy bear will get the same reaction in your tummy, just less exotermic.

  27. Legless_Marine says:

    Potassium Chlorate?

    Can you even obtain that anymore without getting on a watch list?

  28. Gilbert Wham says:

    Foolish loosely science-based Sky show Brainiac had an excellent little section in this vein, called ‘Will it Fizz, or will it Bang?’

  29. Snig says:

    Oh the ursinity!

  30. Snig says:

    The movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” has an excellent malign gummi bear death montage.

  31. Talia says:

    I wonder how a giant gummi bear that’d been soaking in water for a day would taste.

    I think that’s an experiment I’ll be skipping. Although I dare someone to do it and post video. :P

  32. devophill says:

    I… (wait, “don’t cuss”? That’s new. Crap.) …umm, fscking hate Eric Fscking Baum.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Soak gummy bears in vodka. For a week (it takes a whole week, and you must cover & refrigerate & stir on occasion).
    They double in size. And wonderfulness.

  34. Bluecobra says:

    Part of me wants to buy one of these giant 5 pound gummy bears from here ( and dump it in a pool of molten potassium chlorate and see what happens.

  35. Dewi Morgan says:

    Bluecobra: just don’t drop it in the sea…

  36. mypalmike says:


    You can’t even mention potassium chlorate on a blog without getting on a watch list.

  37. Anonymous says:

    What a horrible deathshow!

  38. rockfreakinsolid says:

    Holy ursine jell-o grenade, Batman!

    Not sure if I was seeing that correctly, but… was that reaction actually giving off *light*?? Way, cool!!

  39. mdh says:

    it’s like life sped up.

  40. Anonymous says:

    More Gummy Bear desctruction.