Trick or Treat: What makes your Halloween Candy Great or Ghostly?

Child covered in chocolateHalloween is a special time of year, and whether tricks or treats come into play, there’s a lot of fun to be had by sharing and enjoying a host of candy products! Learn how LECO’s state of the art solutions, like the Pegasus BT GC-TOFMS and ChromaTOF Sync data alignment software, can help you unwrap the aroma profile and chemical composition of your candy.

Understanding the chemical composition of candy can help distinguish these bites of chocolate, which can be important for many purposes. Exploring chemical differences between different types of candy can help uncover why they taste different from each other, while exploring potential chemical differences between the same type of candy can provide information on if they might taste different from each other and why.

There are many reasons that the same type of candy could end up with chemical differences there are different batches, production facilities, storage conditions, ages, and so on. Additionally, all kinds of different product formats are sold, from regular sized bars and mini-sized versions for collection packs, to Halloween themed formats with specially shaped and packaged designs. Analysis of these similar products is important for consumer goods companies for many reasons monitoring quality control and batch variation, process development, understanding shelf-life and aging, and for understanding market trends and strategies through competitor analysis.

Here we took a look at 3 different product format variations of the same brand candy. Using the Pegasus BT GC-TOFMS and ChromaTOF Sync data alignment software, we were able to apply a reliable workflow which allowed trends and differences of the products aroma profiles to be quickly extracted from the data set and evaluated.

In this proof-of-concept study, some notable differences were observed between the samples. Uncovering these similarities and differences in the aroma profile allows for exploring whether they could impact consumer perception.

Halloween Candy PCA Plot
PCA plot results


Some analytes, like 2-Methyl-butanal, clearly varied between the samples; the aroma of this compound is « chocolate/caramel/cereal/biscuit/fatty ».Analysis graphs and charts for 2-Methyl-butanal

Further, interesting aroma variations can also be seen for Methyl-pyrazine, which provides « coffee/cocoa/nutty/roasting » character to products.

Analysis graphs and charts for Methyl-pyrazine

An additional point of interest was significant variation in alpha-pinene, which stands out in one of the variants. Alpha pinene is a key component of many essential oils and natural ingredients, from citrus oils to spices. So, it could be deliberately part of a candy formulation, or, it could be cross over from a previous production batch.

Analysis graphs and charts for Alpha-Pinene

Using the Pegasus BT and harnessing the power of high quality TOF mass spectral data allows workflow enhancing software tools to be used to automatically deconvolute and identify key trends and patterns in your data sets. This puts you a step ahead in answering your questions on Quality, Product Development and Competitor Products Formulations quickly and accurately in order to determine if or how they may impact consumer perception. Take a look at our additional Flavor and Aroma Resources to learn more.