Electromagnetic Properties of Food

Light Emitting Candy. Seafood that glows in the dark. Grape Racing. Lori's Amazing Glowing Pickle and other Light Emitting Vegetables.

Wint-O-Green flavored Life Savers candy emits light when crushed.



The experiment must be performed in absolute darkness, after your eyes adapt completely. Perform the experiment at night, or in a room that has no outside windows. Turn out all lights in the room, and let your eyes adjust. If light leaks in under a door or window, go into a closet or get under a dark blanket.

Put candy into pliers and crush. Observe flashes of blue-white light coming from the candy as it fractures.

With you mouth open, chew some candy (yes its rude but youre in the dark) in front of a mirror or facing a partner. Observe flashes of blue-white light inside your mouth.

Wint-O-Green flavor is the chemical Menthol ( C10H20O) which is constructed as:

      / \
   H2C   CH2
     |   |
   H2C   CHOH
      \ /
      / \
   H3C   CH3
Menthol is a component of the volatile oil that gives the mint plant "Mentha Arvensis" its characteristic smell and flavor. Each year over 6000 tons of menthol are produced by extracting the oil from Mentha Arvensis and freezing the menthol into crystals which are centrifuged out and used in candy, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, flavorings, etc.

Further Research:

Does any other flavor of Life Savers candy produce light ?

Do any other Menthol flavored products such as Altoids candy produce light ?

Are electrical discharges produced by crushing Wint-O-Green flavored Life Savers ?

Can electrical discharges produce a glow in Wint-O-Green flavored Life Savers ?

Certain seafood products may contain bioluminescent bacteria.

that produce "Luciferin" a family of chemicals that emit light.



The experiment must be performed in absolute darkness, after your eyes adapt completely. Perform the experiment at night, or in a room that has no outside windows. Turn out all lights in the room, and let your eyes adjust. If light leaks in under a door or window, go into a closet or get under a dark blanket.

Take a piece of imitation crab meat from the package and observe it in the dark. Some samples may glow blue-white or blue-green. In extreme cases, the light may be bright enough to read by.

When a glowing sample is found, divide in half and put one piece into a dish of salt water, the other into a dish of fresh water. Place both dishes in the refrigerator for 24 hours then observe the samples again. Compare the glow from both samples.


Click Hazard Icon for Safety Info

Assume any culture of wild bacteria contains pathogenic bacteria which could cause illness. Bacteria cultures should never come in contact with human body, food, or areas where food is prepared. Use gloves, wash hands and body thoroughly with hot soapy water. Sterilize all working areas with a solution of soap and bleach. Used containers should be discarded.

Further Research:

Some samples do not glow visibly. Can light still be detected by a long time exposure using a film camera ?

How does temperature, moisture and salinity affect growth and bioluminescence ?

The following info excerpted from "GLOWING" SEAFOOD? by Patricia N. Sado, U. S. Food and Drug Administration

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received many consumer complaints about various seafood products "glowing" in the dark. The seafood products "glowing" in the dark are not due to radiation or to fluorescence, which requires an ultraviolet light to trigger the reaction. These seafood products exhibited luminescence due to the presence of certain bacteria that are capable of emitting light. Luminescence by bacteria is due to a chemical reaction catalyzed by luciferase, a protein similar to that found in fireflies. The amount of light emitted by cultured luminescent bacteria depends on the composition of the media used for culturing, incubation temperature, age of the culture, bacterial cell density, and species. Most of these species require salt except for the two nonmarine luminescent bacteria.

Luminescent bacteria exist free living in the ocean, on surfaces and intestines of fish, shellfish, as well as symbionts with various marine fish and squid. For example, Photobacterium Phosphoreum is very common. There are nine marine species of luminescent bacteria and two non-marine species. Most luminescent bacteria grow at 30C to 40C. Some species can grow at temperatures as low as 4C.

Luminescent bacteria were formerly considered to be harmless to humans, however a bioluminescent strain of V. vulnificus VVLI has been associated with human illness. The greater risk is that harmless luminescent bacteria may be accompanied by pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes.

Luminescent bacteria occur naturally in seawater, fish, shellfish, and marine animals. These bacteria may be present on raw seafood products in the grocery store. They should not be present on cooked seafood products, since cooking destroys these bacteria and other pathogenic bacteria. Employees should follow good manufacturing practices and sanitation in fish markets and grocery stores to prevent cross-contamination of cooked seafood products such as seafood salads, cooked and peeled shrimp, and imitation crabmeat. Good sanitation practices would probably have kept the cooked seafood from being cross-contaminated in most of the incidents where P. phosphoreum and V. logei were isolated by the FDA.

If any seafood products glow in the dark, please notify Patricia Sado, microbiologist at United States Food and Drug Administration.

22202 23rd Drive S.E., P.O. Box 3012
Bothell, WA. 98041-3012
Phone number: 425-486-8788
E-mail address: psado@ora.fda.gov

Grape Racing



Oil the plate lightly and put into the microwave.

Pull grapes from cluster. Make sure the stem end has a good opening, use a toothpick or pencil if necessary. If desired, grapes can be marked with the number of your favorite race car, using a felt tip pen.

Line up grapes on the plate, start the microwave on HIGH.

Observe grapes begin moving around on the plate.

Microwave energy is absorbed by grapes. The energy heats the grape, soon causing its internal water to boil. Steam escaping from the hole in back of the grape propels it around the plate.

Further Research:

How many watts of electrical power does the oven consume ? (see nameplate)

How many watts of microwave power does the oven generate ? (magnetrons can be 70% efficient)

Express the powers found above in horsepower.

Is this an efficient means of propulsion ?

Lori's Amazing Glowing Pickle and other light emitting vegetables.

Lori's Amazing Glowing Pickle From cafeteria to classroom

Characterization of Organic Illumination Systems More Glowing Pickles

The Light Emitting Vegetable Diode Emits light while Rectifying AC current

A "garden variety" laser Hiroshi Taniguchi at Iwate University turns vegetables into lasers.

Hiroshi Taniguchi at Iwate University in Japan has turned thick chunks of carrot and potato into vegetable lasers. Taniguchi's recipe is simple. Take your freshly sliced vegetables and dunk them in his special sauce--actually a fluorescent dye--blast them with a laser beam of just the right wavelength and watch the slices glow.

According to Taniguchi's research, potatoes work well, so do carrots, green peppers and pumpkins. He has even used grains of rice. But any vegetable, freshly prepared, should be well-suited to life as a guiding light. They shine so brightly, says Taniguchi, that you don't even need to darken the lab to pick them out. And although no one is exactly sure how these vegetable lasers work, one day they could provide the clues that astronomers need to decode mysterious broadcasts from watery clouds in far-off galaxies.

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