There once was a rumor that two children had died because they ate Mentos and drank Coca-Cola at the same time. No evidence was ever found that this story was true. But, it is true that a violent reaction occurs when you put Mentos into a bottle of Coke. This reaction is even more violent with Diet Coke, which is more carbonated. Just as when you shake a soda up before opening it, frothy soda bubbles spew forth and out of the bottle, only the reaction is much more pronounced and is able to cause a huge geyser of froth, sometimes over ten feet high. Surely, then, you don’t want to eat Mentos while drinking Coca-Cola, lest this reaction occurs in your stomach. Maybe your stomach would explode!
The famous Mentos-Coca-Cola reaction is a phenomenon known as nucleation. Mentos mints are covered with many very tiny pores or nucleation sites. They are so small you can’t even see them, but they number in the thousands, at least. The reaction occurs between these little pores and the carbon dioxide dissolved in the solution. It is a physical reaction rather than a chemical one. The nucleation reaction causes the rapid release of the carbon dioxide from the water, resulting in carbon dioxide gas which rapidly expands in the soda, pushing the liquid out of the bottle. The question is whether this reaction would occur in your stomach.
EATING Mentos with Coca-Cola is Probably Not Dangerous
The short answer is that eating Mentos by chewing them up while drinking Coca-Cola, or any other soda, will little to no effect. Buy chewing up the candy you have destroyed all the little pores that result in the large surface area responsible for the nucleation reaction. In effect, you have rendered the candy harmless…it’s just candy. There is no danger in eating Mentos mints while drinking Coca-Cola. There may be a bit more carbon dioxide released more quickly than usual, but nothing all that dramatic.
What Happens if you SWALLOW Mentos While Drinking Coke?
In order to ‘re-create’ the effect in your stomach, which you definitely should not do, you would have to drink a large amount of Coca-Cola and then quickly swallow one or two Mentos whole. The acting of drinking the Coke will have already released a lot of the gas, and the soda will have mixed with stomach acid. Just getting the Mentos into your stomach will likely disrupt some of the surface. However, the only way to know what would happen would be to do an experiment.
Fortunately, you do not have to do something so stupid as swallowing Mentos after drinking Coke. People will do anything for YouTube views, so you can watch a dimwit do this experiment here. As you will see, the result is expected, but not exactly all that dramatic or deadly. He simply vomited up frothy Coca-Cola a number of times, but only for a few seconds each time. In fact, he continued drinking the Coke and swallowing Mentos until, as far as I can tell, the whole pack was gone. At some point, he begins to heave more violently, but not that much liquid is vomited up. He obviously feels terrible and has a bad stomachache. Of course, this is for YouTube, so he continues drinking and swallowing candy. Not surprising from a fellow who doesn’t think people actually buy Mentos ‘casually.’ No Dude, they just make them for Coca-Cola experiments.
While we can’t really know what kind of damage this kid may have done to his stomach, the results were fairly predictable. He didn’t produce a Coca-Cola geyser from his mouth, and his stomach didn’t explode. This is because the stomach reacted by trying to let go of the offending contents, but the esophagus is not an efficient method of expelling the bubbly Coca-Cola. At the same time, the experiment is not ‘clean’ so we could assume that a less violent reaction occurs than when the experiment is done in a bottle. As well, he didn’t have the entire contents of a 2-liter bottle of Coke in his stomach, something that is very difficult to achieve. He kept drinking the Coke over time, and gas continued to be released in a more steady manner than would occur if Mentos were dropped into a bottle.
Legendary ‘PepsiGirl’ Video with Pepsi and Mentos
A video that has been around since 2006 and has been seen at least 20 million times purports to show the death of a girl nicknamed Pepsi Girl (not to be confused with the curly-haired little girl on old Pepsi commercials) meet her death after downing a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi cola when she explodes as if a bomb has been placed inside her. The video is, of course, a joke and not real although many people claim ‘it looks real.’ You can view this video on YouTube. Search Pepsi Girl + Mentos. Likewise, stories of children dying from a soda and Mentos compination appear to be nothing more than an update of the urban legend concerning Mikey, the childhood star of a series of Life cereal commercials who was a notoriously picky eater. He was claimed to have died after eating Pop Rocks candy with soda. John Gilchrist, the actor who portrayed Mikey as a child, is alive and well today.
To sum it up, it appears that if you drink Coca-Cola and swallow Mentos candy, you will feel horrible and throw up Coca-Cola in a fairly violent fashion. Your stomach will not explode. However, you may do untold damage to your stomach. Now that this YouTuber has done us all a ‘favor’ and performed this experiment, you do not have to.
MythBusters Mentos and Coke Experiment with a Pig Stomach
The YouTube video discussed above is not exactly scientific, however. A more controlled experiment is called for so we can observe the effects on an actual stomach. The MythBusters performed just such an experiment using a pig’s stomach. What they found was what I suspected, that the actual act of ‘drinking’ the soda released much of the carbon dioxide. If you down a large amount of soda, the carbon dioxide is released. That’s why you feel bloated and your burp.
This pre-release of the gas prevents much of the dramatic release of the gas caused by the Mentos. When the Mythbusters performed this experiment, even dumping the contents of a Mentos and Cola fountain directly into the stomach did not cause it to burst. However, this stomach did swell up a lot which would probably result in vomiting, just as we saw in the YouTube video. Only after the Mythbusters pumped a large amount of compressed air into the stomach did it finally burst, and it took a LOT of air. A pig’s stomach is, by the way, a very good match for a human stomach.
So, myth busted. Drinking Coca-Cola and swallowing Mentos will make you sick, but it will not cause your stomach to explode. It is almost certainly not true that anyone has ever died from doing this. And most reports of death involve someone ‘eating’ Mentos rather than swallowing them, which would probably cause little to know reaction.