LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - MARCH 13, 2022 by Lynne Belluscio It’sWomen’s History Month, so here is a story about a woman who should have won a Nobel Prize and didn’t. And it’s also a Jell-O story, so keep on reading. True or false - - Jell-O is a liquid. True or false - - Jell-O is a solid. True or false - - Jell-O is a gas. Well actually it’s all three. Jell-O is a liquid, a solid and a gas. That’s because it is thermoreversible. There’s quite a bit of science connected with America’s Most Famous Dessert. Carolyn Wyman, in her book, “Jell-O a Biography” explains a lot of the science. She mentions that one company, Science Source’s Edible Optics, created an optics teaching kit which allowed students to study the refraction index and curvature radius of lenses made of Jell-O. Gelatin - -collagen - - is composed of protein molecules, which are constructed of eighteen amino acids lined together in three helical chains. These chains were what James Watson and Francis Harry Compton Crick studied when they were trying to assemble the structure of DNA (which is short for deoxyribonucleic acid). They announced their findings on February 28, 1953 and they received the Nobel Prize in 1962. Interestingly, the gelatin that they were using was manufactured in Woburn Massachusetts, at the Atlantic Gelatin Company which supplied all the gelatin to Jell-O. Actually, Watson and Crick weren’t the first to discover DNA. In 1869, DNA was identified when Swiss physiological chemist Fredrich Miescher first identified “nuclein” inside the nuclei of human white blood cells. So, who was Rosalind Franklin? Born in 1920, Franklin was an English chemist and x-ray chrystallographer, who had graduated in 1941 from Newnham College, Cambridge. Born Jewish, her family protected many Jewish families from the Nazi’s during World War II. One photograph, Photo 51, taken by her student Raymond Gosling, led to the discovery of the DNA double helix for which Crick and Watson won the Nobel Prize. Ironically, on the day before she was to unveil her research at an international fair in Brussels, she died of ovarian cancer at the age of 38. Her team member, Aaron Klug, continued her research and won the Nobel Prize in 1982. The reason why she was not awarded a Nobel Prize is because the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously. The gelatin protein chains that are part of the DNA story, can also be broken down by enzymes found in some fresh fruit. This includes fresh pineapple, figs, kiwi, gingerroot, guava, and papaya. The enzymes interrupt the protein chains and prevent the molecules of gelatin from forming around the water molecules. Another characteristic of Jell-O is that the density of the fruit or vegetables that are put into the gelatin, determines whether the fruit or vegetables float or sink in the Jell-O. Less dense fresh produce, such as diced apples, sliced bananas, orange sections, strawberries, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers and celery, will float. Fruit packaged in heavy syrup, will sink. The density of Jell-O is tested by a machine known as a Gelometer. It tests the “Bloom” of the gelatin – named for Oscar T. Bloom, who patented the Gelometer in 1925. The Gelometer on exhibit in the Jell-O Gallery was donated by the Atlantic Gelatin Company to the Historical Society when the Museum opened in 1997. It was taken to Hollywood, when it appeared on “To Tell the Truth.” Rosalind Franklin This gelometer was donated by the Atlantic Gelatin Company, in Woburn, Massachusetts, to the LeRoy Historical Society to be exhibited in the Jell-O Gallery. It was used to test the Bloom of the Jell-O. In 1937, one laboratory job was devoted exclusively to making sure that the Jell-O coming off the production line was ok. One woman dissolved a small amount of Jell-O powder in a glass beaker. The Jell-O would have to set, and then placed under the plunger and the machine was turned on. The plunger had to move millimeters into the gelatin, in the meantime, replacing lead gun shot into the little dish. Usually, gelatin desserts must be at least 220 grams strong. Today, the strength of gelatin is measured by light refraction.