Why not mashed paper towels on the Thanksgiving menu?

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2009 — Why do people eat mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving Day but not mashed paper towels? That’s not such an odd question from a chemistry standpoint because potato and paper are almost as similar as two peas in a pod in terms of the carbohydrates they contain.

For the answer to that and other topics that could spark dinnertime conversation on Thursday, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is offering an addition to the holiday menu: A special video on the chemistry of Thanksgiving available at www.BytesizeScience.com.

The program features Diane Bunce, Ph.D., recipient of the ACS Helen Free Award for Public Outreach, who discussed the topic in a demonstration at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. Bunce is a professor of chemistry at CUA and associate editor for Chemical Education research for ACS’ Journal of Chemical Education.

The video, produced by the ACS Office of Public Affairs, focuses on traditional Thanksgiving foods, including topics such as:

  • How does the pop-up timer in a turkey work?
  • Why do muffins rise, even when made without yeast?
  • Which antacids neutralize the most stomach acid?

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress.
With more than 154,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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