HOWTO make a DNA model out of licorice and jellybabies

What better way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the publication of Watson and Crick's landmark paper on the double helix structure of DNA than by making your own double-helix out of jellybabies and licorice? Dr Mark Lorch's method for making edible DNA models promises to capture the "elegant simplicity" of DNA.

You'll need:

Two long, flexible sweets, such as liquorice ribbons.

A few handfuls of soft, highly coloured sweets, such as jelly babies or marshmallows.

Cocktail sticks.

For advance bio-engineers, Lorch also explains how to extract the DNA from a kiwi fruit using things lying around your kitchen.

How to make a DNA double helix from jelly babies and liquorice [Dr Mark Lorch/Guardian]

(via Neatorama)



  1. as an added bonus, one could teach that normal DNA has a right-handed twist (as depicted in the small image) and that the graphic depictions of DNA everywhere is often (~50%) wrong.  …handedness (stereospecificity) is everywhere and is an important concept to observe …yep.

  2. The purines (A & G) are larger than the pyrimidines (C & T), so really you should take say the red and yellow jellybabies and lop off their heads (!) before matching them up with the green and purple ones.Then for extra realism, give each licorice a distinct end (making one end pointy?) and have the pointy ends at opposite ends of the ladder to make the strands anti-parallel.
    Then, observe the beautiful symmetry.
    Like the threads on a regular screw, make sure the helix is righty-tighty/lefty-loosey when you twist it (not righty-loosey!) and you’re ready to move on to your polymerases, helicases and topoisomerases.

  3. Now, what exactly is the colour code? Let’s say that green (lime) jelly babies are adenine, then red (strawberry) must be thymine, and if purple (blackcurrant) ones are cytosine, then yellow (lemon) ones must be guanine. Fortunately, we can substitute pink (raspberry) ones (uracil) for red ones to make RNA! Note that the yellow/green citrus babies are purines and the red/pink/purple berry babies are pyrimidines. It’s scary how much of this I remember after nearly 35 years (that is, the DNA/RNA stuff; I remember the jelly baby stuff from much longer ago).

  4. I wonder if we could get Munroe to tell us how big the real model would be and if it would self-replicate?

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