I am not one to be tempted by my kids’ Halloween loot, nor am I courted by the impulsively placed candy bar display at Target. But I have to admit how I love digging my hand into a giant bag of cold M&Ms.
When I was growing up, my mom always had a bowl set out on a random accent table in a festive serving bowl to coordinate with the seasons. Orange and brown ones in October; the red, pink and white ones in February. I love to mix them with popcorn, with cashews or peanuts or raisins, or eat a handful plain with a just-opened can of Diet Coke.
So imagine my sarcastic gasp of excitement — coupled with some eye-rolling disbelief — with the news that blue M&Ms may save lives.
The story is here, and it’s this: Medical researchers discovered that when they injected “Brilliant Blue” into rats suffering spinal cord injuries, the rats were able to walk again. According to science, the compound that comprises the FDA-approved blue food dye (which chemists know as BBG) works to thwart Adenosine triphosphate, a powerful current that surges to the spinal cord immediately after an injury occurs. If the BBG is injected into the victims’ bloodstream right after the injury, their prognosis improves dramatically and they may be able to walk again, researchers concluded from the rat tests.
I can’t help but wonder if the scientist who decided to try this experiment shared my love of M&Ms; how else would this idea have come to the research docket? Incidentally, the blue variety was introduced in 1995, when the public chose this color over purple and pink as a replacement for the rather dull tan M&M.
So in eating my M&Ms, I’m consuming a powerful chemical that can likewise battle evil inside my body. Seems somewhat artificial, doesn’t it?