Brain candy: New exhibit lets you study sugar

How sweet it is!: Rachel Karpf is producing the three-day “Sweet Shoppe” exhibit, which explores the science of sugar, starting on Dec. 1 in Dumbo.
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Talk about the sweet science!

You will be able to taste, touch, smell, and learn about all things sugar at the pop-up exhibit Sweet Shoppe, coming to One Brooklyn Bridge Park on Dec. 1–3. And while everyone learns growing up that the confection can lead to some unfortunate tooth troubles, they should learn what else the scrumptious saccharin has to offer, said the exhibit’s producer.

“Sugar is just such an interesting topic — we all know sugar is supposed to be bad but sugar is also delicious. It’s really tightly interwoven into the food we eat, and has a really long history,” said Rachel Karpf, who lives in Boerum Hill.

The colorful exhibit is hosted by Guerilla Science, a group committed to connecting people with science in new innovative ways — and the candy store–like exhibit will do just that, said Karpf.

“It’s like a sweet shop, Willy Wonka wonderland — come in and we’ll entertain you, dazzle you, amaze you and also connect you with sugar in ways you weren’t expecting,” she said.

Visitors to the waterfront wonderland can explore glucose at five stations during their tour, allowing sweet-toothed science fans to fully immerse themselves in the carbohydrate in all its forms, said Karpf.

“One of the things we’re really trying to unpack is each of our senses individual­ly,” she said. “How sugar enters into our mouth and becomes something we consume, but how the idea of sugar and sweetness impacts us in other ways too.”

At one of the stops, guests can take an up-close look at a popular carnival food, and view it in a unique way, said Karpf.

“One of the stops we’ve got is a station that’s devoted to techniques, looking at all of the different ways used to manipulate its underlying structure — cotton candy magnified 200 times, how the molecules break down,” she said.

You may come for the sweetness and sweet facts about sugar — for instance, that sugars have been found deep in space, and that fructose can be twice as sweet as table sugar — but be sure to stay for the surprise at the end, where guests will be momentarily stripped of their ability to taste sugar, said Karpf.

“What happens at the end if we take away sugar from you?” she asked. “The big audience surprise at the end is, now we take sugar away from you and do something that basically makes them temporarily unable to taste sweetness.”

“Sweet Shoppe” at One Brooklyn Bridge Park (360 Furman St. between Atlantic Avenue and Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights, Dec. 1– 3; 11 am–9 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:52 pm, July 9, 2018
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