50 Sweet Facts About Your Favorite Halloween Candies

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It’s no surprise that candy delights kids and adults alike. We love sweets so much that the average American eats about 22 pounds of candy each year. Whether you’re looking to impress your friends or simply brush up on your candy trivia, check out these 50 sweet facts about your favorite candies.

1. THE MOST POPULAR HALLOWEEN CANDY VARIES BY STATE.

A bowl of candy corn on a piece of burlap.
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Candy corn takes the title in Alabama, while Swedish fish win in Georgia. But Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Milky Ways, and M&Ms are a few of the most consistently popular candies in all 50 states.

2. THE CREATOR OF REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS NAMED THE TREAT AFTER HIMSELF.

A partial shot of a peanut butter cup on a blue background.
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Harry Burnett Reese sold the Lizzie Bar and Johnny Bar, candy bars he named after his daughter and son, respectively. But his chocolate-covered peanut butter cup creation, which he named after himself and called Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, was his real hit.

3. THE INVENTOR OF THE TOOTSIE ROLL ALSO CREATED A PRECURSOR TO JELL-O.

A photo of giant tootsie rolls in old-fashioned packaging.
Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Leo Hirschfield, the inventor of Tootsie Rolls, also invented Bromangelon Jelly Powder, a gelatin dessert that was a precursor to Jell-O.

4. A DENTIST INVENTED COTTON CANDY.

Bags of brightly colored cotton candy in various hues.
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You wouldn’t expect a dentist to be responsible for helping to pioneer a new type of candy, although maybe he was hoping it would drum up some cavity-related business. In 1897, dentist William Morrison partnered with confectioner John C. Wharton to devise a machine that used centrifugal force to turn sugar into cotton-like strands. The result was cotton candy, but that name didn’t come until the 1920s. Morrison and Wharton called their treat “Fairy Floss.” And who says this treat is just for summer carnivals? These days, you can buy cotton candy in several Halloween varieties, including Werewolf Hair and Pumpkin Guts.

5. IN JAPAN, ADULTS CAN BUY SAKE-FLAVORED KIT KATS.

A person holding a package of sake-flavored kit kats.
Nelo Hotsuma, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

They’re enveloped in white chocolate and contain sake powder (0.8 percent alcohol). The Japanese can also snack on whiskey-flavored Pocky sticks, which are covered in chocolate and flavored with malt.

6. THE TRUE ORIGIN OF THE BABY RUTH BAR HAS BEEN DEBATED FOR DECADES.

A stack of Baby Ruth bars in a box.
Justin Sullivan // Getty Images

Introduced in 1921, when baseball player Babe Ruth was a national hero, the Curtiss Candy Company reformulated their Kandy Kake confection and gave it a name reminiscent of sports royalty: Baby Ruth. But when Ruth licensed his name for another bar in 1926, Curtiss cried foul, claiming it would cause consumer confusion and swearing that they had named their bar not after the baseball legend but after Ruth Cleveland, the deceased daughter of President Grover Cleveland. Even though “Baby Ruth” had died of diphtheria in 1904 and would be an odd choice for a candy bar name, the courts agreed; Ruth never got in on the treat trade.

7. THE MILKY WAY BAR WAS INSPIRED BY A MALTED MILKSHAKE.

A Milky Way bar on a black background.
Erin McCarthy

Milky Way was meant to mimic the taste of a malted milkshake, which was popular in the 1920s.

8. WHITE CHOCOLATE ISN’T ACTUALLY CHOCOLATE.

Squares of white chocolate stacked on top of each other.
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Lovers of white chocolate, beware: Because white chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa solids, it's not real chocolate.

9. TOBLERONE CUSTOMERS ARE A PASSIONATE, VOCAL BUNCH.

Boxes of Toblerone chocolates stacked on top of each other.
Mike Pont/Getty Images for NYCWFF

When the chocolate bar company decided to cut costs by reducing the weight of two of their bars sold in the UK, fans loudly expressed their disappointment and mocked the new bar’s fewer triangular chocolate peaks.

10. THE TWO M'S IN M&M’S STAND FOR MARS AND MURRIE.

A pile of M&Ms candies.
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Those are the surnames of the two businessmen—Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie—who developed and financed the candy-coated chocolates.

11. LIFE SAVERS GOT THEIR ROUND SHAPE AFTER THE CANDY’S INVENTOR VISITED A PHARMACY.

An orange-spotted Life Saver on a black background.
gosheshe, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Clarence Crane, the creator of Life Savers, made his candies round rather than square, which was the typical shape for most mints at the time, after visiting a pharmacy. Inspiration struck when he saw a machine making pills that were round and flat, and the rest is history.

12. IT TAKES LICKING MACHINES (YES, THEY’RE A REAL THING) ANYWHERE FROM 364 TO 411 LICKS TO REACH THE CENTER OF A TOOTSIE POP.

Tootsie Pops in a bale of hay.
John Morgan, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Human lickers, on the other hand, averaged just 144 to 252 licks.

13. E.T. COULD HAVE EATEN M&M’S INSTEAD OF REESE’S PIECES.

A wax figure of the alien from 'E.T. the Extraterrestrial.'
Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Madame Tussauds

The iconic scene in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, in which Elliott entices the alien with Reese's Pieces, almost didn't happen. Steven Spielberg’s first two choices of candy were M&M’s and Hershey’s Kisses, but when the Hershey Company offered to pay $1 million to showcase their candy creation, Reese’s Pieces became E.T.'s favorite sweet.

14. YOU CAN PAIR YOUR FAVORITE HALLOWEEN CANDY WITH WINE.

Two classes of red wine on a table with some chocolate.
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Based on criteria including flavor, acidity, bitterness, and sweetness, wine experts recommend pairing Whoppers with Cabernet Sauvignon, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with Sherry, and Hershey’s Kisses with Zinfandel.

15. M&M’S COME IN A LOT MORE FLAVORS THAT MILK CHOCOLATE, PEANUT, AND CRISPY.

A bag of coffee nut m&ms.
Erin McCarthy

You can also snack on M&M’s in more esoteric flavors (some are limited-edition): pecan pie, peanut butter, pumpkin spice latte, pretzel, white cheesecake, coffee nut, dark mint, and caramel, for starters.

16. THE WORD PEZ COMES FROM THE GERMAN WORD FOR PEPPERMINT: PFEFFERMINZ.

Photos of Pez dispensers, including Mickey Mouse, Kermit, and Batman.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Invented by anti-smoking advocate Eduard Haas III, PEZ were originally marketed as mints to help smokers kick the habit. The candy’s slogan in the 1920s? "Smoking prohibited, PEZing allowed."

17. NAMING THE SNICKERS BAR HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH LAUGHING AT A GOOD JOKE.

Snickers bars piled up on each other.
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Franklin Mars, the patriarch of the Mars company, named the candy bar after a beloved racehorse his family owned that had just passed away. Snickers was raised on his family’s farm, the Milky Way, in Tennessee.

18. DUNKIN’ DONUTS AND HERSHEY ONCE TEAMED UP TO CREATE CANDY-FLAVORED COFFEE.

A steaming cup of coffee on a piece of burlap.
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They offered Heath bar and Almond Joy flavored options.

19. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS EATING TOO MUCH CANDY.

An orange pail with filled with, and surrounded by, Halloween candy.
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According to the American Chemical Society, eating 262 fun-sized Halloween candy bars would poison a 180-pound person. But don't worry about death by candy: You'd vomit before you’d be able to down that many candy bars in one sitting.

20. THE RIVALRY BETWEEN FANS OF TWIZZLERS AND RED VINES IS FIERCE AND DEEP-SEATED.

a close-up of twizzlers.
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Candy fans have heated online debates about which licorice product has a better taste, texture, and appearance.

21. IT'S NOT CHOCOLATE BETWEEN THE LAYERS OF WAFER IN A KIT KAT BAR.

A Kat Kat bar in a red wrapper.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

It’s actually recycled Kit Kats. Technicians pull any imperfect Kit Kats—with off-center wafers or not enough shine, for example—and then grind them into a paste.

22. PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN REALLY LOVED JELLY BELLY JELLY BEANS.

President Ronald Reagan presents president-elect Bill Clinton with a jar of red, white, and blue jelly beans.
PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

He loved eating them so much that Air Force One was outfitted with special jelly bean holders, lest turbulence cause his beloved beans to spill.

23. THE GOELITZ CANDY COMPANY’S BRAND OF CANDY CORN HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE 1898.

A white spoon full of candy corn.
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It was called "chicken feed," since real corn kernels were usually only fed to livestock. (In 2001, the Herman Goelitz Candy Company changed its name to the Jelly Belly Candy Company.)

24. ASTRONAUTS LOVE M&MS.

An open bag of plain M&Ms on a white background.
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M&Ms have proven to be among the more popular candy requests for astronauts on space missions. Because they’re bite-sized and candy coated, they don’t make much of a mess. They can also be released in the air and gobbled up, Pac-Man style, by space travelers.

25. THE PHRASE TOOTSIE ROLLS MEANT SOMETHING OTHER THAN CANDY DURING THE KOREAN WAR.

A close-up view of three tires.
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U.S. soldiers in the First Marine Division used the phrase as a codename for mortar shells. But the real candy came in handy when the soldiers used chewed-up Tootsie Rolls to patch holes in their vehicles' fuel lines.

26. BUTTERFINGER ONCE HAD AN ENERGY BAR.

Someone holding up a butterfinger bar.
djpoblete09, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In 2009, Butterfinger debuted Butterfinger Buzz, a candy bar containing 80 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of a can of Red Bull). But due to low sales, the product was discontinued.

27. UP UNTIL 1990, UK FANS OF SNICKERS HAD TO ASK FOR MARATHON BARS.

A Marathon bar.
John Jones, Flickr // CC BY ND 2.0

That was the name given to the candy bar in England because Snickers rhymed with “knickers,” a popular slang term for women’s underwear. (The Marathon brand made a comeback in 2008.)

28. JUNIOR MINTS WERE NAMED AFTER A BROADWAY PLAY.

An open box of Junior Mints candy on a white background.
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Junior Miss ran from 1941 to 1943.

29. TO APPEAL TO KIDS, PEZ TURNED CANDY DISPENSERS INTO TOYS.

A Garfield Pez dispenser.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

The first dispensers geared toward children were shaped like Santa Claus, a robot, and a space gun.

30. EVERY DAY, 64 MILLION TOOTSIE ROLLS ARE MADE.

A close-up view of a bunch of Tootsie Rolls.
Erin McCarthy

That means that over 44,440 Tootsie Rolls are created per minute!

31. HARIBO, THE CANDY COMPANY FAMOUS FOR ITS GUMMY BEARS, IS A PORTMANTEAU.

A bag of Haribo gummy bears.
PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images

Creator Hans Riegel combined the first two letters of his first and last name with the first two letters of his hometown: Bonn, Germany.

32. JELLY BELLY MAKES A LINE OF ENERGY BEANS.

Two bags of Jelly Belly Sport Beans.
Joel Kramer, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Sport Beans contain carbohydrates, electrolytes, B vitamins, and Vitamin C. Who says you can’t eat candy while exercising?

33. CANDY CORN ISN’T JUST FOR HALLOWEEN.

A bag of valentine's themed candy corn.
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There are varieties for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.

34. THE DESIGN OF MARY JANE CANDIES—A YELLOW WRAPPER WITH A RED STRIPE AND A DRAWING OF A YOUNG GIRL—HAS STAYED THE SAME FOR MORE THAN 100 YEARS.

A stack of Mary Jane candies.
Cathy Stanley-Erickson, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

The inside of the candies, a mixture of peanut butter and molasses, is also virtually unchanged.

35. DOTS GUMDROPS ARE GLUTEN-FREE AND VEGAN-FRIENDLY.

A box of DOTS gumdrops on a black background.
Erin McCarthy

They may also be one of the most pervasive non-chocolate candies on the market: More than 4 billion DOTS are rolled out annually.

36. 3 MUSKETEERS WAS SO-NAMED BECAUSE IT ORIGINALLY FEATURED CHOCOLATE, STRAWBERRY, AND VANILLA PIECES OF CANDY.

A 3 Musketeers bar on a black background.
Erin McCarthy

But vanilla and strawberry (as well as sugar) were scarce during World War II, so 3 Musketeers ditched the vanilla and strawberry to focus on chocolate.

37. SAM BORN FOUNDED THE JUST BORN CANDY COMPANY IN 1923.

The exterior of Just Born, Inc.
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

The guy behind the company that makes Mike and Ikes and Hot Tamales originally made his fortune by inventing the Born Sucker Machine—a device that would insert sticks into lollipops.

38. IT USED TO TAKE 27 HOURS TO MAKE ONE PEEP.

A tray of pumpkin peeps.
Erin McCarthy

After automation, now it only takes six minutes. That means the Pennsylvania factory can pump out 5.5 million Peeps a day!

39. NORTH DAKOTANS IN SEARCH OF CANDY CIGARETTES BETWEEN 1953 AND 1967 WERE OUT OF LUCK.

A carton of candy cigarettes.
zombieite, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The state banned the candy due to concerns that it would encourage kids to smoke real cigarettes.

40. PEZ HAS FEATURED SOME UNUSUAL FLAVORS THROUGHOUT ITS HISTORY.

A group of green and blue Pez.
Dave Lawler, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

They’ve ranged from the intriguing (cola, pineapple) to the worrisome (chlorophyll, offering a plant-flavored experience). Flavors will also vary depending on region: PEZ enthusiasts in the U.S. can’t get peach.

41. CUSTOMERS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM CAN BUY JARS OF TWIX SPREAD.

A Twix bar on a white background.
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It’s a Nutella-like spreadable that contains chocolate, caramel, and crunchy pieces of biscuit.

42. AFTER ITS BAG IS OPENED, CANDY CORN CAN LAST FOR THREE TO SIX MONTHS.

An open bag of candy corn.
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Just make sure to store it at room temperature away from heat and light.

43. EVEN THOUGH TWIZZLERS ARE KNOWN AS A “LICORICE CANDY,” ONLY THE BLACK LICORICE PACKAGES CONTAIN LICORICE EXTRACT.

A pile of black and red Twizzlers.
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The standard strawberry ones are made with corn syrup, enriched wheat flour, and artificial flavoring.

44. IF YOU LOVE SNACKING ON EVERLASTING GOBSTOPPERS, RUNTS, AND LAFFY TAFFY, YOU CAN PARTIALLY THANK ROALD DAHL.

A pile of laffy taffy candies.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, the film based on Roald Dahl's book Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, was the impetus for Quaker Oats, who agreed to help finance the film, to launch a candy line (which later became The Willy Wonka Candy Company) to bring the imaginative candy creations to life.

45. EVERY EIGHT HOURS, MARS’S NEW JERSEY FACTORY PRODUCES 2 BILLION M&MS.

A machine packaging M&M's candies at a Mars factory in France.
PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images

That works out to 4 million M&Ms a minute. That’s almost enough made each day to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, which would need about 2.4 billion M&Ms in order to become a deliciously eccentric Olympic event.

46. THE KIT KAT JINGLE WILL GET STUCK IN YOUR HEAD.

A woman with her hands over her ears, looking annoyed.
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Researchers determined that the Kit Kat jingle—"Gimme a break / Gimme a break / Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar"—is one of the most common earworms.

47. MIKE AND IKE CANDY DEBUTED IN 1940.

A bunch of Mike and Ike candies.
Erin McCarthy

Since then, the candy has been made in almost 40 different flavors, from the original fruit mix (orange, cherry, lemon, and lime) to more unusual ones such as cotton candy and root beer float.

48. SALT WATER TAFFY IS GENERALLY NOT SALTY, WATERY, OR MADE FROM SALTWATER.

A few pieces of salt water taffy.
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So why the name? According to New Jersey legend: In 1883, a storm hit the Atlantic City boardwalk, flooding several candy shops in the process. When a girl went up to a candy counter afterward looking for a treat, the disgruntled proprietor jokingly told her only “saltwater taffy” was left. The name stuck, and today’s salt water taffy still echoes the store owner’s sarcastic comment. These days, you can buy Halloween flavors from some retailers.

49. OTTO SCHNERING INVENTED BOTH THE BABY RUTH AND THE BUTTERFINGER.

A bunch of Butterfinger candy bars in a box.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As owner of the Curtiss Candy Company, Otto "U.S. Candy Bar King" Schnering achieved success with the Baby Ruth candy bar first; he followed it up with Butterfinger, which got its name from a public contest and was another smash hit.

50. HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA—HOME TO THE WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF THE HERSHEY CHOCOLATE COMPANY—WAS NAMED FOLLOWING A FAILED NAMING CONTEST.

A street light shaped like a Hershey Kiss in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
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In 1904, the newly created town hosted a contest to pick its new name, and the winner was "Hersheykoko." The post office (and many locals, including founder Milton Hershey's wife) rejected the name, and they eventually went with the more straightforward "Hershey."

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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What Really Happens When Food Goes Down the 'Wrong Pipe'?

The dreaded 'wrong pipe' calamity can strike at any time.
The dreaded 'wrong pipe' calamity can strike at any time.
Photo by Adrienn from Pexels

Your average person isn’t expected to be well-versed in the linguistics of human anatomy, which is how we wind up with guns for biceps and noggins for heads. So when swallowing something is followed by throat irritation or coughing, the fleeting bit of discomfort is often described as food “going down the wrong pipe.” But what’s actually happening?

When food is consumed, HuffPost reports, more than 30 muscles activate to facilitate chewing and swallowing. When the food is ready to leave your tongue and head down to your stomach, it’s poised near the ends of two "pipes," the esophagus and the trachea. You want the food to take the esophageal route, which leads to the stomach. Your body knows this, which is why the voice box and epiglottis shift to close off the trachea, the “wrong pipe” of ingestion.

Since we don’t typically hold our breath when we eat, food can occasionally take a wrong turn into the trachea, an unpleasant scenario known as aspiration, which triggers an adrenaline response and provokes coughing and discomfort. Dislodging the food usually eases the sensation, but if it’s enough to become stuck, you have an obstructed airway and can now be officially said to be choking.

The “wrong pipe” can also be a result of eating while tired or otherwise distracted or the result of a mechanical problem owing to illness or injury.

You might also notice that this happens more often with liquids. A sip of water may provoke a coughing attack. That’s because liquids move much more quickly, giving the body less time to react.

In extreme cases, food or liquids headed in the “wrong” direction can wind up in the lungs and cause pneumonia. Fortunately, that’s uncommon, and coughing tends to get the food moving back into the esophagus.

The best way to minimize the chances of getting food stuck is to avoid talking with your mouth full—yes, your parents were right—and thoroughly chew sensible portions.

If you experience repeated bouts of aspiration, it’s possible an underlying swallowing disorder or neurological problem is to blame. An X-ray or other tests can help diagnose the issue.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.