Have you ever played with a Stretch Armstrong toy? If so, you may have wondered what that gooey substance inside was made of.
Some have speculated that it’s gelled corn syrup, but is it safe to play with? In this article, we’ll explore the potential hazards of gelled corn syrup and whether it’s toxic.
From the dangers of latex allergies to the effects of fructose on our health, we’ll delve into the science behind this classic toy’s mysterious filling.
So let’s stretch our minds and find out if gelled corn syrup is truly harmless or if it poses a risk to our health.
Is Gelled Corn Syrup Toxic?
The short answer is no, gelled corn syrup is not toxic. The gel inside a Stretch Armstrong toy is made from non-toxic corn syrup, which is a common ingredient in many food products.
However, it’s important to note that the outer body of the toy is made from latex rubber. This can be a concern for children with latex allergies, as exposure to latex can cause allergic reactions ranging from mild skin irritation to anaphylaxis.
In terms of choking hazards, Stretch Armstrong does not have small parts that could be a concern for young children. However, it’s always important to supervise children while they play with toys and ensure they are age-appropriate.
While gelled corn syrup may not be toxic, it’s worth noting that excessive consumption of fructose (which is a component of corn syrup) can have negative health effects. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become a common ingredient in many processed foods and beverages, and consuming too much of it has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health issues.
It’s important to maintain a balanced diet and limit our intake of added sugars, including HFCS. But when it comes to playing with a Stretch Armstrong toy, there’s no need to worry about the safety of the gelled corn syrup inside.
What Is Gelled Corn Syrup?
Gelled corn syrup is a substance that is commonly used as a filling for toys such as Stretch Armstrong. It is made by diluting ordinary corn syrup with less moisture, resulting in a gel-like consistency. Corn syrup itself is derived from cornstarch, which is a carbohydrate made up of molecules of glucose. When heated with water, some of the bonds between the glucose molecules break, causing the starch to undergo “gelatinization” and form a gel-like substance.
The gelled corn syrup inside Stretch Armstrong acts as a cushioning tissue around a skeletal core of gallium. When melted gallium is injected into the toy and then rapidly cooled, it forms unusual crystal shapes that are supported by the corn syrup gel. While gelled corn syrup is not toxic, excessive consumption of fructose (a component of corn syrup) can have negative health effects. It’s important to maintain a balanced diet and limit our intake of added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup.
The History Of Gelled Corn Syrup In Toys
Gelled corn syrup has been used in toys for decades, and one of the most well-known examples is the Stretch Armstrong toy. Introduced in 1976 by Kenner, Stretch Armstrong is a large action figure filled with a proprietary gelled substance similar to corn syrup. This substance allows the toy to be stretched from its normal size of about 15 inches to up to 4 or 5 feet.
The gel inside Stretch Armstrong is made by reducing regular corn syrup, which removes some of the moisture and creates a thicker, more viscous substance. This gelled corn syrup is non-toxic and safe for children to play with.
Over the years, other toys have also used gelled corn syrup as a filling material. One example is the Ooze It toy, which was introduced in the 1980s and featured a soft, squishy body filled with a similar substance to Stretch Armstrong.
While gelled corn syrup has been a popular choice for filling toys, it’s worth noting that it can be messy if the toy develops a tear or puncture. The gel can leak out and be difficult to clean up, so it’s important to supervise children while they play with these types of toys.
The Science Behind Gelling Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is a common ingredient in many food products and can also be used to create a gel-like substance. To understand the science behind gelling corn syrup, it’s important to first understand the properties of corn syrup.
Corn syrup is primarily made up of glucose, a simple sugar. When water is added and it is heated, some of the bonds between the glucose molecules break and the starch undergoes “gelatinization.” This process results in a gel-like substance that can be used in a variety of applications.
The texture and properties of the gelled corn syrup can be manipulated by altering the ratio of corn syrup to water and adjusting the temperature at which it is heated. For example, increasing the concentration of syrup can result in a harder gel, while increasing the temperature can result in a softer gel.
In addition, different types of sweeteners can be added to the corn syrup to create different flavors and textures. For example, adding fructose syrup can result in a gel with a higher peak viscosity and disintegration rate compared to glucose syrup.
Potential Health Risks Of Gelled Corn Syrup
While gelled corn syrup itself may not be toxic, it’s important to consider the potential health risks associated with the consumption of corn syrup and its derivatives. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a type of corn syrup that has been processed to contain more fructose, has been linked to numerous health issues. Excessive consumption of HFCS has been shown to drive inflammation, which is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In addition, consuming excess fructose may lead to the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which can harm cells. Furthermore, excessive fructose intake may exacerbate inflammatory diseases like gout due to increased inflammation and uric acid production. Studies have even linked the excessive intake of HFCS and sugar to an increased risk of heart disease and reduced life expectancy.
It’s worth noting that corn and corn-based products are largely produced from genetically modified varieties (GMO) and can contribute to intestinal permeability, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and other health issues. While gelled corn syrup may not pose a direct health risk, it’s important to be mindful of our overall consumption of corn-based products and added sugars in general. Maintaining a balanced diet with limited intake of added sugars can help reduce the risk of negative health effects associated with excessive fructose consumption.
Alternatives To Gelled Corn Syrup In Toys
While gelled corn syrup is a common material used in toys like Stretch Armstrong, there are alternatives available. One such alternative is brown rice syrup, which is made by breaking down rice starches into simple sugars and boiling them into syrup. It has a similar consistency to corn syrup but has a light nutty flavor that may not work for all dishes. Brown rice syrup can also be used for candy-making as it prevents crystallization.
Another alternative to gelled corn syrup is using silicone gel, which is a non-toxic, odorless, and tasteless material. It’s commonly used in medical devices and can be molded into various shapes and sizes. However, it may not have the same stretchy properties as gelled corn syrup.
Other alternatives to gelled corn syrup include using water-based gels or hydrogels made from polymers. These materials can be customized to have different properties such as elasticity, viscosity, and transparency.