John Coupland is a Professor of Food Science at Penn State. His research program is on the physical properties of foods, in particular fats and oils. He teaches undergraduate Food Chemistry and graduate level Food Chemistry and Food Physical Chemistry.
This is about that.
A slightly controlled experiment in caramelizing onions. The pan on the left has a little baking soda which raises the pH and allows the Maillard reaction to proceed faster and generate more color. The control gives some dark brown specks where the onion burnt but less of the general color change. It all tasted about the same. [Inspired by Cesar Vega].