You’re mom takes you to the candy store where she says you can pick out one thing. Your face lights up and you gleefully take off down the aisle. Now what should you get? Twizzlers, Sugar Bombs, Gummy Bars, Jaw Breakers, Sour Rings, Butterfingers?
There are so many options!
You keep searching up and down each shelf asking the colorfully dressed Candyman about each option. He tells you the Cookie and Cream bars are nice to eat slowly. The Red Devils are hot and fun to eat fast. Candy Spiders can scare your little sister. Wonderballs have a toy inside.
Eventually–after more searching–you ask his opinion on the M&M’s.
He says, “Those are good but the mini ones are better.”
Being the curious young child you are, you look up at him and ask, “Why?”
Now there are two main reasons mini M&M’s taste better than full size M&M’s and both are–obviously–because they are smaller.
First, the smaller size of the M&M results in a higher ratio of sugar shell to chocolate. This is because the surface area of the M&M expands more slowly then the volume, known as the Square-Cube Law. If you increase a mini M&M up to a regular M&M you gain the chocolate volume faster than you gain the sugar surface area.
Second, the rate at which an object dissolves is inversely proportional to its size. That is to say that smaller objects dissolve faster. This is fairly intuitive, if you put a small pad of butter on a frying pan it will melt faster than if you put the whole stick. Smaller objects dissolve faster because per weight there is more surface area for your saliva to work on. Put more simply, one regular size M&M weighs as much as 20 mini M&M’s but because then are so many mini M&M’s your saliva has more surface area to work on.
These two affects combine together to allow the higher ratio of sugar coating to dissolve faster on your tongue.
Why do mini M&M’s taste better? Because they deliver sugar faster to you taste buds.
So grab a handful and enjoy some sweet science.
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