What's Up With That Fake Grape Flavor?

4/20/2021 3:23:00 AM

Fun fact: The grape flavoring commonly used in candies and sodas, methyl anthranilate, was originally isolated from the essential oil of orange blossom, but mass-produced cheaply using coal byproducts. WFIUNews

TranscriptChances are that at one time or another you've unscrewed a grape Fanta, or licked the peak of a purple snow cone, and moments later thought to yourself:"This doesn't taste like any grape I'm used to eating. It tastes so fake."

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However, the scientific history behind this syrupy sweet flavor may give another perspective to that assessment. This artificial grapey essence was first developed in the 1890s, after chemists isolated a chemical called methyl *anthranilate from the essential oil of orange blossom. Manufacturers noticed that this chemical, known as an ester, reminded them of the smell of grapes. This ester was cheaply mass‑produced using coal byproducts produced by emerging coal industries, and this became the basis of the go‑to grape flavor that we still use today.

In the 1920s, scientists hoped to distinguish between imitation and genuine grape flavors and, to their surprise, discovered methyl anthranilate in real grape juice. So, this synthetic chemical derived from coal tar was confirmed to be in natural grapes. headtopics.com

But here's the most interesting turn in this history of food science. The grapes that most U.S. consumers had eaten up to this point were the **Vitis labrusca variety native to America, such as purple Concord grapes, and not the red and white variety grown in Chile and California, which don't contain that particular grape‑flavor chemical.

So, when you taste a purple Jolly Rancher and notice its difference in flavor from the grapes in your lunch, you are noting the difference between your perception of flavor and that of earlier Americans, and how our flavor palate changed over time.The scientific history behind artificial grape taste may help explain why it can taste so fake.

(R0Ng/flickr)Chances are that at one time or another you've unscrewed a grape Fanta, or licked the peak of a purple snow cone, and moments later thought to yourself:"This doesn't taste like any grape I'm used to eating. It tastes so fake."

However, the scientific history behind this syrupy sweet flavor may give another perspective to that assessment. This artificial grapey essence was first developed in the 1890s, after chemists isolated a chemical called methyl anthranilate from the essential oil of orange blossom. Manufacturers noticed that this chemical, known as an ester, reminded them of the smell of grapes. This ester was cheaply mass‑produced using coal byproducts from emerging coal industries, and this became the basis of the go‑to grape flavor that we still use today. headtopics.com

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In the 1920s, scientists hoped to distinguish between imitation and genuine grape flavors and, to their surprise, discovered methyl anthranilate in real grape juice. So, this synthetic chemical derived from coal tar was confirmed to be in natural grapes.

But here's the most interesting turn in this history of food science: The grapes that most U.S. consumers had eaten up to this point were theVitis labruscavariety native to America, such as purple Concord grapes, and not the red and white variety grown in Chile and California, which don't contain that particular grape‑flavor chemical.

So, when you taste a purple Jolly Rancher and notice its difference in flavor from the grapes in your lunch, you are noting the difference between your perception of flavor and that of earlier Americans, and how our flavor palate changed over time. Read more: NPR »

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WFIUNews Never liked the fake grape anything. Especially after Jonestown. WFIUNews For the longest time, I wouldn’t eat grapes because I thought they tasted like that. Same with cherries. WFIUNews I've never liked 'grape flavor' and this confirms what my tastebuds suspected. WFIUNews why would you tell me this 🤢

WFIUNews Eww! xmillrunner WFIUNews If it tasted like grapes it would probably be too subtle in a candy. It needs to taste like concentrated grape - which it kind of does. WFIUNews Bone app the teeth WFIUNews WFIUNews And no one seems to mention the disturbing fact that candy contains Billion Year Old Plankton...the same thing we power cities and fire up our grill? By-product or whatever cute word they come up with, it's Coal.

WFIUNews Raspberry “flavor” came from the anal glands of beaver. FYI WFIUNews Not surprised in the least. 90% of “fruit flavored” candies taste like chemicals to me. Grape is one of the worst for me, along with peach & watermelon.🤢

WFIUNews Yuk WFIUNews Never like 'grape' candy despite a childhood of being gifted it 'because purple is your favorite color'. This story makes me feel oddly vindicated WFIUNews Also fun fact: U.S. food laws allow products containing this chemical to be labeled 'with natural flavors', 'non-fat', 'vegan' and 'gluten free'.

WFIUNews Fake cherry flavor is the worst! 🍒 WFIUNews When the FBI one day finally abducts and tortures me to find out my brisket recipe I only pray they don’t bring out the big guns with this utterly revolting and nauseatingly putrid dog shit right here, I’d rather choke on my own goddamn tongue than taste fake grape for a second