Matching up the appearance of the product to what you're actually delivering is very key.

Its no coincidence that spicy chips come in bright red packaging and cool mint gum is boxed in blue. Same goes for the color of the food itself. Im Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Joan Harvey is a flavor chemist at a major candy company. When creating a new product, Joan knows that taste is just part of the equation. In her laboratory, Joan Harvey displays a variety of ingredients and shes careful about color, because it can easily trick the brain.

You can see here that you go from a pale yellow to a tan to a dark color. And as I blend those ingredients together, it could change the color of the flavor from being colorless and clear to being dark and cloudy.

We tried to trick Joan Harvey, and had her flavor team concoct a yellow mystery drink.

My initial thought process is, is that Im going to taste something that is lemon, because its colored yellow. So let me taste it and see what it is.

[She tastes the concoction]

Interesting. Its not lemon. It has some sourness, like it should be lemon. But when I started to put the cup up to my mouth, I could smell, the flavor was already starting to come out. And it actually tastes like it could be cherry. Its usually red.

Well, we tried! Just goes to show you cant fool an expert. Check out kidsciencechallenge.com to find flavor experiments you can do at home! The Kids Science Challenge is a competition for 3rd to 6th graders to come up with ideas for scientists like Joan Harvey to solve. Thats kidsciencechallenge.com.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. Im Jim Metzner.

Scientist: Joan Harvey