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Gobstoppers, also known as jawbreakers or jaw breakers in Canada, Australia and the United States, are a type of hard candy. They are usually round, and normally range from about 1 – 3 cm across; though gobstoppers can be up to 8 cm in diameter.

Jawbreaker plate.jpg
Gobstoppers of various sizes and colors. The largest one is 3 inches (~7.5 cm) in diameter
Alternative names Jawbreakers, Jaw Busters
Type Confectionery
Place of origin United Kingdom
Main ingredients Sugar, invert sugar, food coloring, calcium stearate, beeswax/carnuba wax, preservatives
Cookbook: Gobstopper  Media: Gobstopper

The term gobstopper derives from 'gob', which is slang in United Kingdom and Ireland for mouth. The sweet was a favourite amongst British schoolboys between World War I and World War II.[1] In his children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, British author Roald Dahl described "Everlasting Gobstoppers", a fictional type of gobstopper that could never get smaller or be finished.

Gobstoppers usually consist of a number of layers, each layer dissolving to reveal a different colour (and sometimes differently flavoured) layer, before dissolving completely. Gobstoppers are sucked or licked, being too hard to bite without risking dental damage (hence the name jawbreaker).

Gobstoppers have been sold in traditional sweet shops for at least a century, often sold by weight from jars. As gobstoppers dissolve very slowly, they last a very long time in the mouth, which is a major factor in their enduring popularity with children. Larger ones can take days or even weeks to fully dissolve.



Rainbow gobstopper
Split single-coloured Ferrara Pan gobstopper showing layers of sugar

Gobstoppers are made by slowly depositing layers onto a core (such as a pressed ball of sugar or a gumball[2]). Gobstoppers are made in large, rotating, heated pans. This is called "hot panning". The candies take several weeks to manufacture, as the process of adding liquid sugar is repeated multiple times. Natural and artificial colors and flavors are also added during the panning process.

Everlasting GobstoppersEdit

The Everlasting Gobstoppers, sold under Nestlé's Willy Wonka Candy Company brand, were first introduced in 1976 by Breaker Confections,[3] and are named after the Everlasting Gobstoppers in Roald Dahl's children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In Dahl's story, Everlasting Gobstoppers are purported to last forever. Dahl named the sweet after Gobstoppers, which were a favourite among British schoolboys between the two World Wars.[1] As a young boy in the early 1920s, Dahl put a dead mouse into a jar of Gobstoppers in his local sweet shop, which is commemorated with a blue plaque.[4]

Exploding gobstoppersEdit

Big gobstoppers

In 2003, Taquandra Diggs, a nine-year-old girl in Starke, Florida, suffered severe burns, allegedly from biting on a Wonka Everlasting Gobstopper that had been left out in the sun. Diggs and several other alleged victims' families filed lawsuits against Nestlé for medical bills resulting from plastic surgery as well as pain and suffering; the matters were later settled outside of court for an undisclosed amount.[5][6]

The MythBusters investigationEdit

A 2003 episode of the Discovery Channel television program MythBusters featured a myth called Exploding Jawbreaker inspired by the incidents with Diggs and Cameron DeHall. Co-hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, with help from Build Team member Tory Belleci and Mythtern Christine Chamberlain, strove to find out just how a Gobstopper or Jawbreaker could become a bomb. Hyneman, on examining the insides of one, noticed that because of the candy's multi-layered makeup, there is a potential for a temperature differential — meaning that one or more layers could heat faster, causing pressure on the outer shell and making the candy unstable. (Chamberlain found using an infrared thermometer that one layer got up to 225 °F (107 °C) after microwave heating.) If the candy was compressed — including in someone's jaws — the candy could explosively burst and its almost molten centers could cause painful burns.

This was tested with a microwave oven and a jaw rig, but chemical contamination (specifically, through caustic soda, which is often used to clean food processing equipment) and heating while in the plastic bag were also considered confirmed. In the microwave oven test, Savage and Chamberlain received light burns after a gobstopper exploded, and Adam compared the feeling to napalm because the candy was retaining heat efficiently.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b John Ayto (2012). "The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink". p. 154. Oxford University Press
  2. ^ How it's Made Season 7 Episode 02
  3. ^ Zeldes, Leah A. (October 30, 2009). "Willy Wonka lives in Chicagoland". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Archived from the original on November 4, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Blue plaque marks Dahl sweet shop". BBC. Retrieved 24 December 2014
  5. ^ "Florida Girl Injured In Bizarre Candy Episode | The Smoking Gun". 2011. Archived from the original on February 13, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Jawbreaker Candy Explodes, Burns Fla. Girl's Face – Orlando News Story – WKMG Orlando". 2011. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Mythbusters : Will Heating a Jawbreaker Make It Explode?". 2011. Archived from the original on April 27, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 

External linksEdit