Globe/T. Rob Brown -- “Dr. Food Science” (aka staff writer Dustin Shipman) ponders the mystery of the infamous Sprite and bananas combination and other food myths.

By Dustin Shipman

Editor’s note: Dr. Food Science does not hold a degree from an accredited university. He is not, in fact, a real doctor at all. (If you have an appointment with him, please cancel it immediately.) The following experiments are — to use a highly scientific term — stupid, and should not be attempted by anyone, at any time. Ever.

Good morning, class. I am your instructor, Dr. Food Science.

Recently, I headed to my top-secret laboratory to undertake several food experiments, with the goal of trying to separate fact from fiction.

Is it possible to eat six saltine crackers in a minute? Are Sprite and bananas really a bad combination? Is it really impossible to eat a teaspoon of cinnamon?

While these experiments may seem sophomoric and juvenile to you, these are questions with profound implications. And in the interest of science, I felt compelled to put them to the test. Please, do not try these experiments at home. I am, after all, a professional.

Experiment No. 1

The first experiment sounds rather simple: eat six regular saltine crackers in under one minute without anything to drink to help wash them down.

I was confident about the success of this experiment. Six crackers are tiny enough to fit in your mouth all at once and a full minute to chew and swallow them sounded like plenty of time.

Do not be fooled. It is far more difficult than it sounds. Once I bit into the first cracker, it worked like a sponge to suck up all the saliva in my mouth, making it virtually impossible to swallow. I would say that eating only three crackers in a minute’s time is pushing the limits of what the human mouth can handle. But six, in my opinion, is impossible.

I consulted with Heather Boline, a dietitian with Freeman Health System, after the experiment to find out why.

Boline said that one should always have water handy when eating anything dry like crackers to help the mouth start digestion. She also warned that there is a possibility of choking anytime someone tries to eat too quickly.

Experiment No. 2

There are variations on this experiment, but the basic premise states that the human body cannot digest bananas and Sprite at the same time.

There are numerous videos available on the Internet of people taking on this challenge and failing miserably. However, in the name of science I thought it was important to try the experiment myself.

According to the Web site, the challenge is to eat two bananas and then quickly drink a can of Sprite. Supposedly it causes a chemical reaction in the person’s stomach which forces the banana and Sprite cocktail to “evacuate.”

Boline said that she was unaware of any actual research done involving Sprite and bananas. However, she said that one possible explanation is that the human stomach can only hold about two cups, depending on the person.

“Too much food or liquid in your stomach if your stomach doesn’t have that capability can make you vomit,” Boline said. “Too much of anything is not good.”

She had a point.

The first thing that I noticed was that two bananas and a can of Sprite is a lot of food to put in one’s stomach. I have a feeling that for many people, forcing that much food into their stomachs in such a short time frame could cause them to be sick.

However, I was not affected in any significant way. I expected stomach swelling, like swallowing an Alka Seltzer, or perhaps some sort of sudden, violent illness. But nothing happened; at least, nothing that would lead me to believe that there is nothing more than a psychosomatic response from people that have tried this.

Experiment No. 3

The final experiment I took on was the one I looked forward to the least.

It sounded simple enough: eat a teaspoon of cinnamon, with no time limit.

I had read horror stories from people who claim to have tried it, saying that it was an unpleasant experience at best. Cinnamon apparently does not dissolve well in the mouth, making it difficult to swallow. And due to the dust, some have even compared it to being pepper-sprayed.

Boline advised against trying this.

“Too much of anything really isn’t wise, even though they might make supplements for cinnamon or garlic,” Boline said. “They are dosed amounts. I wouldn’t recommend anyone eating a spoonful of cinnamon.”

For me, however, her advice came too late.

Through my experimentation, I found that cinnamon doesn’t have a bad taste. It wasn’t bitter like I expected; rather, it tasted like putting a teaspoon of baby powder in your mouth. And it remained as dry in my mouth as the moment it first went in.

I waited nearly a full minute for it to start to dissolve before I had to spit it out. I was lucky enough not to cough or get in my eyes or lungs, but I did have the sensation that I had just licked a belt sander.

As I had heard, I would say that this is impossible and wouldn’t recommend that anyone attempt it, ever — even in the name of science.

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