The average kid's colossal appetite for sweets is usually denied with a stern parental "It'll spoil your appetite" or "It'll give you cavities." But at least young'uns can learn something while they ruin their teeth at "Candy Unwrapped," an exhibit that examines the scientific reasons behind the sugary concoctions' tempting tastiness.
Tykes can play on an anatomically correct giant tongue, scale a rock candy mountain, learn about the history and chemical composition of chocolate, and sample super-sour treats while a camera snaps their puckery reactions. Visitors can also push their own personal Fear Factor buttons by virtually taste-testing the natural confections so popular in other nations -- grasshoppers, tarantulas, termites, and grubs. Hey, it has to be better than lima beans, right? Should you happen to visit on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., use your sugar high for artistic inspiration by decorating an all-candy landscape celebrating the exhibit's grand opening. A bit of advice: Schedule the dental appointments in advance. The sugar rush begins at 10 a.m. Saturday (and runs through Jan. 4) at the Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial & Grizzly Peak, Berkeley. Admission is free-$8.50; call (510) 642-5132 or visit www.lawrencehallofscience.org.
-- Jack Karp
St. Boniface's beastly mitzvah
Our city's patron saint, Francis of Assisi, was a kindhearted, open-minded guy who loved all kinds of social outcasts -- poor people, lepers, even the animals that were heartily despised and abused in his day. Even now, almost 800 years after the smile-on-your-brother saint's death, Franciscan monks cherish a special fondness for the feathered and furred. And so each year on St. Francis' Feast Day, Franciscan churches all over America welcome critters for a priestly invocation.
The popular Father Floyd Lotito does the honors at our 14th Blessing of the Animals, with a steady stream of cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, fish, rodents, reptiles, horses, goats, and -- now thisis San Franciscan! -- llamas receiving his benediction starting at 1:30 p.m. at St. Boniface Church, 121 Golden Gate (at Jones), S.F. Admission is free; call 592-2740.
-- Joyce Slaton
The Frisco Kids
Local teens grill candidates
Kids say the darndest things. At tonight's "Frisco Youth First," a mayoral candidates' forum -- an event prepared for the young, by the young -- we hope they'll say things like, "How are you going to make sure schools get more money?" Here, the top six candidates for the mayor's spot field questions from people who have to live with the decisions the city leader makes, especially when it comes to education.
We hope those kids also ask questions the rest of us chicken out on, like "Why is your hair like that?" The forum begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Community Bridges Beacon at Everett Middle School, 450 Church (at 16th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-5222 or visit www.salesforcefoundation.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
As an adult, facing a guy like vibraphone player Stefon Harris can be frightening: He's one of those intimidating musical prodigies. But for children, seeing a real music wiz can be inspiring, making music seem easy and fun. "Mallet Mania," suitable for all ages, begins at 2 p.m. at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $7-15; call 398-6449 or visit www.performances.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser