Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, then by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about a common food preservative, potassium benzoate.
In the sixty fourth episode of The Simpsons, Treehouse of Horror III (Season 04, Episode 05), the third annual fright fest features three new anthologies.
In the second segment, King Homer, a parody of King Kong, Homer as King Kong is captured by Mr. Burns and falls in love with a damsel in distress portrayed by Marge.
In the third segment, Dial “Z” for Zombies, Bart and Lisa accidentally recite a spell that unleashes zombies upon Springfield.
But for this musing, we will focus on the first segment, Clown Without Pity.
It’s Bart’s birthday and Homer forgets to buy him a gift. He rushes out to the ‘House of Evil’, where the Shopkeeper helps him find a Krusty doll.
Shopkeeper: “Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse.”
Homer: “Ooooh, that’s bad.”
Shopkeeper: “But it comes with a free Frogurt!”
Homer: “That’s good.”
Shopkeeper: “The Frogurt is also cursed.”
Homer: “That’s bad.”
Shopkeeper: “But you get your choice of topping!”
Homer: “That’s good.”
Shopkeeper: “The toppings contains Potassium Benzoate.” [Homer looks confused] “That’s bad.”
Homer: “Can I go now?”
Homer returns with the Krusty doll, much to Bart’s delight. However, Grampa also echoes the Shopkeepers warnings about the evil doll:
Grampa: “That doll is evil, I tells ya. Evil! Eeeeeeviillll!!!”
Marge: “Grandpa, you said that about all the presents.”
Grampa: “I just want attention.”
Both the Shopkeeper and Grampa are correct as the Krusty doll repeatedly tries to kill Homer.
Homer also repeatedly and unsuccessfully tries to get rid of the doll. As the doll attempts to strangle Homer, Marge calls KrustyCo for help. A KrustyCo repairman arrives and discovers that the doll has been accidentally switched from ‘Good’ to ‘Evil’. He flips the switch back to ‘Good’ and Homer uses the doll as a pleasant and obedient servant.
But have you ever wondered what the potassium benzoate in the frogurt topping is?
Potassium benzoateis a food preservative that inhibits the growth of mold, yeast, and some bacteria. It works best in low-pH products, with pH below 4.5, where it exists as benzoic acid.
Acidic foods and beverages such as fruit juice (citric acid), sparkling drinks (carbonic acid), soft drinks (phosphoric acid), and pickles (vinegar) may be preserved with potassium benzoate. It is approved for use in most countries, including Canada, USA, and the European Union.
According to the Canadian Food Database (foodb.ca), potassium benzoate belongs to the class of organic compounds known as benzoic acids. These are organic compounds containing a benzene ring which bears at least one carboxyl group. Potassium benzoate is a weakly acidic compound (based on its pKa). Here are the properties of potassium benzoate:
Now that we’ve learned more about potassium benzoate, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
Did you remember the episode? What’s your favourite THOH episode of The Simpsons? What’s your favourite frogurt flavour? What’s your favourite frogurt topping? Were you familiar with potassium benzoate? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.