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M&M’s: The Surprising Science Behind the Candy-Coated Guinea Pigs

M&M’s: The Candy Coated Guinea Pig of Science

M&M’s are not only delicious bite-sized chocolates with colorful candy shells, they have also become unwitting participants in numerous scientific studies. These popular candies have been used as research tools in a variety of disciplines, making significant contributions to fields such as physics, psychology, and even nutrition. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of M&M’s and explore the unexpected role they have played in scientific advancements.

M&M’s in the Lab: Uncovering Scientific Discoveries

A fascinating study involving M&M’s began as a light-hearted prank. A professor known for his love of the candy received a gag gift of thousands of M&M’s poured into a 55-gallon drum left in his office. This whimsical gesture piqued the curiosity of Princeton physicist Paul Chaikin and chemist Salvatore Torquato. They began a scientific investigation to explore the physical and mathematical principles behind packing objects into containers. Surprisingly, they found that M&M’s packed more densely than perfect spheres, providing valuable insights into packing theory.
This study is just one example of how M&M’s have been used as a tool for scientific exploration. From physics to psychology, researchers have used the unique properties of these colorful treats to gain new perspectives and make remarkable advances.

M&M’s: Revealing insights into human behavior

The influence of M&M’s extends beyond the realm of science. In the field of psychology, these candies have served as a valuable resource for studying human behavior. Researchers have used M&M’s to study topics such as aggression, cheating and binge eating.
For example, a study conducted by the American Psychological Association examined the relationship between violent video games and aggressive behavior. M&M’s were used as a means to measure levels of aggression and cheating among participants. The results shed light on the impact of video game content on human behavior and provided valuable insight into the psychological effects of gaming.
In another notable study, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University used M&M’s to explore strategies for curbing binge eating. By observing participants’ responses to these candies, the study aimed to uncover effective techniques for managing impulsive food consumption. Such research contributes to our understanding of eating disorders and holds promise for the development of practical interventions.

M&M’s: A Candy-Coated Journey Through Science

Beyond their role as subjects of scientific inquiry, M&M’s have left their mark on scientific disciplines. The Princeton University study of the condensed matter physics of M&M’s has implications for several fields, including the design of high-density ceramic materials for aerospace applications. Through this study, scientists have made progress in understanding the behavior of condensed matter, an area that has puzzled researchers for centuries.
It is important to note, however, that not all research involving M&Ms has immediate practical applications. For example, the study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University on the use of M&M’s as a potential dieting technique requires further investigation before it can be recommended as a viable weight management strategy.
Yet the enduring popularity of M&M’s lies in their ability to deliver on their promise: to melt in our mouths, not in our hands. As we enjoy these delightful candies, we can appreciate the unexpected roles they have played in scientific exploration and their continuing contributions to various fields of study.
In sum, M&M’s have transcended their status as a beloved candy to become a valuable tool in scientific research. From unlocking the mysteries of packaging theory to shedding light on human behavior, these candy-coated treats have made their mark on the scientific community. As we enjoy the simple pleasure of munching on M&M’s, let us also marvel at the knowledge they have helped create and the sweet insights they continue to provide.


How have M&M’s been used in scientific studies?

M&M’s have been used in a variety of scientific studies in fields as diverse as physics, psychology and nutrition. They have been used to study topics such as packaging theory, aggression and cheating in video games, drug testing in racehorses, and binge eating.

What significant discoveries have been made using M&M’s?

One notable discovery is that M&M’s pack more densely than perfect spheres, which has implications for fields such as the design of high-density ceramic materials for aerospace applications. In addition, studies have provided insights into the effects of violent video games on aggression, methods to curb binge eating, and drug testing in animals.

How did M&M’s get involved in scientific research?

M&M’s has been involved in scientific research in a variety of ways. For example, a professor who received a humorous gift of M&M’s initiated a study of packaging theory. Researchers in psychology and nutrition recognized the unique properties of M&M’s and their potential to provide insights into human behavior and food consumption.

What is the significance of M&M’s in the field of psychology?

M&M’s have been used as a tool in psychological studies to measure aggression, cheating, and impulsive food consumption. These studies have contributed to our understanding of the psychological effects of video games, eating disorders, and strategies for managing impulsive food-related behaviors.

Are all research findings related to M&M’s immediately applicable?

Not all research involving M&M’s is immediately applicable. Some studies require more research before their findings can be recommended or implemented. For example, using M&M’s as a dieting technique would require additional testing and research before it could be considered a viable weight management strategy.

Why are M&M’s considered the candy-coated guinea pigs of the scientific community?

M&M’s have been called the candy-coated guinea pigs of the scientific community because they have been used as experimental subjects in various scientific studies. Their unique properties and widespread popularity make them an interesting and accessible tool for researchers in a variety of fields.

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