The Caramilk Secret … Finally

Reader DEA wrote in to say that he figured out the Caramilk secret a long time ago.

The short story is that I have been involved with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for many years now and near the beginning, in the late 80’s, we imaged anything and everything of interest. Of course, Caramilk chocolates were among the first samples of interest. I have included one such image with this email as an attachment (annotated).

Short story again is that one can identify two different shadings of the chocolate coating (I can do image enhancement etc, but it is there and I have tried to annotate the gif to highlight the regions I am talking about — I have better images somewhere but they are hard to find after 20 years; this work was never published). Anyway, there are distinct, sharp edges that separate the ‘top’ from the ‘bottom’ of the coating (highlighted in the image), indicating that the bottom has been in a mold at a different temperature (thermal history) than the top. MRI experiments of this type can be made sensitive to subtle differences in the thermal history of the chocolate and the effect is now well known. So we have evidence for a simple process of filling the bottom layer and then pouring a top layer to create the product.

But how does one get the gooey center into the mold and then get such a nice top layer onto it without creating a liquid mess? First, the center component must be hard to retain its structural integrity during the process. This is probably the real secret…the center part is indeed hard when the product is made, but softens afterwards due to an (added) enzyme that causes a reaction that occurs afterwards. I am not and never have been an employee of the company that makes this product but I am fairly sure that what I have described comprises the ‘secret’… We considered publishing this all those years ago but decided that some things are best left to the imagination (like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny etc)…

Or Mann’s methodology.


  1. TCO
    Posted Apr 26, 2006 at 9:34 PM | Permalink

    WTF is Caramilk? Is this some Anglican thing that Canadians talk about while bowing to the Queen?

  2. Lee
    Posted Apr 26, 2006 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

    re: “1. WTF is Caramilk?”

    I demand that Steve reveal sufficient info to understand what he is talking about!

  3. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 26, 2006 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

    Either of you ever heard of Google?

  4. TCO
    Posted Apr 26, 2006 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

    I’m American. You are supposed to follow all our news and popular culture. We are supposed to be blithely ignorant of you to the extent that you become an enraged French/German old Europe type.

  5. TCO
    Posted Apr 26, 2006 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

    Either of you ever heard of Google?

    IOW, “yes”?

  6. Sara Chan
    Posted Apr 26, 2006 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

    Steve M. is once more refusing to properly explain things. (Perhaps he doesn’t want to be intimidated?) Anyway, for those who are unfamiliar, Google is available here:

  7. John A
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 1:34 AM | Permalink

    Am I the only person who thinks this blog has lost its focus?

  8. per
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 4:03 AM | Permalink

    actually, you need a vibrator…

  9. Doug L
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 5:47 AM | Permalink

    I sleepily assumed the Caramilk secret was an esoteric mystery relating to a little known religious order of Catholic nuns.

    Perhaps they had ancient scrolls written in code that allowed them to blackmail the Vatican or some such thing.

    I’m so disappointed.

  10. Louis Hissink
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 6:21 AM | Permalink

    heh heh

  11. John A
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

    Can i suggest as an alternative to using an enzyme (which seems like a long winded way to liquify the center), you could simply add the caramel into the concave top, and then add the base, which is made a little sticky by warming it slightly so that it adheres.

    Then you have the finished product without using enzymes. The secret is that its made upsidedown.

  12. dave
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 7:02 AM | Permalink

    also see:

  13. John A
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    Half right and half wrong. Damn!

  14. Gary
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 7:56 AM | Permalink

    Can we get back to determining the confidence limits of the thermal regimes of the two chocolate layers? I suspect the proxy image has neglected to include the XYZ series (Hersey 1998) and seriously underestimates the MWP (melting/warming period). Also, I’m rather suspicious of the commercial interest of McIntyre and McKitrick as referenced here.

  15. Mark
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    Btw, the same sort of thing happens with chocolate covered cherries. The gooey center is actually crystalized sugar when they are dipped in chocolate. After a while, the liquid from the cherry causes the sugar to melt. So kids, when you get a chocolate covered cherry with a hard center, it is actually fresher than one with a gooey center.


  16. John
    Posted Apr 27, 2006 at 3:35 PM | Permalink

    I am the brother of the MRI fiddler, so I can swear to the unnecessary complexity of all things eminating from DEA. (Enzymes!) Moreover, I manage a chocolate factory, and though I am loath to harm any speculations that injure the myths and mysteries of Drug store chocolate… it’s all in the temperatures of the various parts and when they come into contact. FYI: In the manufacture of chocolate products, there is no right side up or upside down. There is marketting burly Santa Claus’ which unsold are remelted into cute little bunnies, which unsold become Mother’s Days flowers, which unsold become Fathers’ day cigars which unsold become Witches which unsold become Santa Claus. Soft centers cannot be remelted, but the shelf life of foil-wrapped granular sugar, glucose, and invert sugar is measured in nuclear terms – half-lives I think is the term you guys use.

  17. Posted May 19, 2006 at 12:42 AM | Permalink

    Good that you finally revealed the secret but i simply dont understand what are your motives behind the post mortem of the undoubtedly delicious Caramilk chocolate.
    Anyways let me also know its recipe if you are successful in revealing that too.

  18. Maddog
    Posted Apr 8, 2008 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

    Too bad you are all wrong. ONE chocolate station.. ONE caramel station. It all has to do with density and a mold that’s cooled on the bottom and heated from the top. Caramel sinks though melted chocolate which solidifies over top.

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