Hacking Your Snacks

Science serves up caffeinated doughnuts and juicy bacteria

by Trevor Johnston
Trevor Johnston

Pep up Your Pastry Now you can one-hand that coffee-and-doughnut breakfast. Robert Bohannon of Environostics, an R&D firm in North Carolina, has concocted a caffeine-laced doughnut that packs a jolt equal to two cups of coffee. Normally, caffeine in baked goods imparts a bitter taste. Bohannon has concealed the drug in tiny, edible capsules that dissolve in your stomach, not in your mouth. Look for caffeinated snacks within six months.

Flavor Factories Bacteria could soon add "freshly squeezed" taste to processed juice. Scientists at HortResearch in New Zealand have identified the genes in apples, kiwis and berries that encode for flavor and spliced them into microbial DNA. The modified bacteria churn out concentrated flavor chemicals identical to the natural versions. These can be added to drinks to replace the real fruit flavors that evaporate in the juicing process.

Safer Peanuts Roughly three million Americans suffer from peanut allergies. Now University of Florida researchers have taken the first major step toward creating a risk-free peanut. They've identified a key mutation that renders one of the worst peanut- protein allergens harmless. The goal is to selectively breed the mutant peanut or engineer a hypoallergenic nut that won't turn your face into a big red balloon.