We began an experiment to test the pH level of Lakrisal (a.k.a. the worst candy in the world, IOHO). Lakrisal's main ingredients are licorice extract, ammonium chloride and sugar, so we wanted to figure out the chemistry behind what made it so awful.
Our control group was a 5% ammonium chloride solution, which clocked in at about 5.13 on the pH scale. Then we diluted a crushed-up Lakrisal tablet in 100 ml of water and it came out looking like the stuff in the photo above. Which looks like ... you can decide what it looks like. Not the most analytic or precise experiment, but the best one to figure out the pH scale given what we had.
Conclusion: our solution of Lakrisal ...
... has a pH level of 5.92.
On the pH scale, that's about here -
Still mildly acidic, like the ammonium chloride control group solution level of 5.13. But Lakrisal is a bit less acidic, and even closer to same pH level as urine! This candy just keeps getting better and better!
Even after all that, the brave Dr. Merrer wound up the courage to try the stuff (in tablet form, not liquid). She explained that that sour taste does come from the acidity in the tablet. "It's pretty brutal."
Other reactions from Dr. Merrer's fearless lab assistants:
"Initially, it was worse than what it is now. It gets a little bit better as you progress. But it's still not good.""It was sort of salty, but then it got kind of sweet ... but I had to spit it out. It was really bad.""[To a fellow assistant] You look like you're going to cry!"
And if you were as amazed as I was about the magnetic stirrer thing, you'll be even more psyched to learn that chemists use a magnetic wand to get it out of the solution.