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Why One Scientist's Hilarious Obsession With Gummy Bears Is Going Viral

"Twelve flavors? Let's see what this is all about!"

If you're a fan of gummy bears, you may know that the delightful little candies were first introduced in the U.S. by the German company Haribo several decades ago, and that the company's American offerings remain confined to five distinct flavors and colors: raspberry (red); orange (orange); strawberry (green); pineapple (colorless); and lemon (yellow). But if you're a true super-fan of gummy bears—like Scott Barolo, a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan Medical School—you'll be pleased to know that there are other competing gummy-bear brands out there that offer even more tasty flavors.

When Barolo discovered a packet of twelve-flavor (!!) Albanese "Gummi Bears"—which claimed to be fat-free, gluten-free, low-sodium—he couldn't contain his excitement, and then geeked out about it on Twitter in the most hilarious way. In fact, the wide-eyed gummy enthusiast was so gobsmacked by the idea of twelve flavors that set out to fact-and-taste check the entire packet to ensure that the flavors were all accounted for, posting each step of his journey on Twitter. The funny thread has since gone viral.

Again, Barolo was dubious about the prospect that his bag of little "gummi" bears actually contained twelve distinct colors and flavors.

So, being a scientist, he took a highly mathematical approach to determining if this was, indeed, the case and was crestfallen to find he could only distinguish 11 flavors by color.

This did not correspond with the flavors listed on the back of the packet, which included Cherry, Strawberry, Mango, Lemon, Pineapple, Orange, Green Apple, Watermelon, Pink Grapefruit, Lime, Blue Raspberry, and Grape.

And, assuming that the grape-flavored gummi would be purple as usual, he seemed to have been robbed of that flavor entirely.

Based purely on visual clues, he managed to identify the other 11 flavors. There seems to be a disproportionate amount of lime in his bag, and a deficit of flavors that are arguably tastier, such as Strawberry and Watermelon.

Someone should really send a strongly worded letter about this.

He then tried to see if he could distinguish the flavors based on smell, but there was no luck there as they all smelled the same. Sensory and auditory variables yielded no further results.

Finally, he moved on to taste. The cherry one definitely tasted like a cherry cough drop, and strawberry had bold hints of the actual fruit.

But things got more complicated when he got to the lighter colors of the spectrum. He struck gold with Orange.

Ditto for Pink Grapefruit.

But then Pineapple turned out to be Lemon and the other way around. Noooooo!!!!

Things didn't go so well with the greens either. Long story short, he got 7 out of 11 correct.

"I won't be the valedictorian of Gummi High, but I'll get to go to prom," he wrote.

And given that the thread has gone viral and provided the entire Internet with a lot of laughs, we'll give him an A for Twittertainment.

Also, for what it's worth, previous research suggests that all gummy bears actually taste the same and the only reason we think they taste differently is because our perception of color is fooling our brains. Who knew?! And for more on the intersection of science and candy, check out this mathematical experiment that determined which is the rarest color in your bag of M&Ms.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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