The most useless flavor ever invented by our species, blue raspberry has been the source of much personal frustration for a long time, from when I was about ten years old and realized that the blue Tootsie pop I was supposed to be enjoying was actually quite disgusting. As someone who had (and still has) an enormous sweet tooth, with practically no aversion to any sort of sugary thing (with very, very few exceptions), this was a big deal for me. In a matter of seconds, my innocent, childlike enjoyment of this lollipop had turned foul. I wanted an explanation.
As I could not (and would not) accept that this could be related to any development in my quickly maturing taste buds or my growth as a human being, I decided that the blame must fall on the flavor. I quickly discovered that, when trying other flavors of candy, I did not experience the same reaction. But whenever I popped blue raspberry into my mouth, I had a visceral reaction. (Okay, not really, but close.)
What was it about blue raspberry that I didn’t like? I liked real raspberries fine. Of course, candy rarely tastes like the fruit it’s named for – but with that said, why should this flavor be any different? And then it hit me.
There is no such thing as a blue raspberry. It made absolutely no sense to my ten-year-old brain why, if candy companies needed a blue flavor, they couldn’t have just called it blueberry. So what if it tasted nothing like blueberries? It’s not like anything tasted close to an actual fruit. Plus, it would save the cost of printing all those extra letters on candy wrappers and whatnot.
Recently, I had an unfortunate encounter with blue raspberry once more and decided something must be done. Blue raspberry had to go. But, like any good history student, I first looked up the story behind this absurd flavor before I did anything else. And here’s what I found.
Way back in the day – and by that I mean the 1960’s and 1970’s – there were four flavors of red candy: strawberry, watermelon, cherry, and raspberry. It became increasingly difficult for candy companies to differentiate between these four flavors, as none of them actually tasted like their respective fruits. So they had to do it by color. Watermelon became a pinkish red, strawberry a normal red, cherry a dark red, and raspberry an even darker red.
Here’s the problem. Whatever horrible chemical they used to make the very dark red color, Amaranth, is really bad for you. In fact, it was banned by the FDA as a possible carcinogen.
So, as a solution, the candy companies decided to start using the blue coloring they’d been keeping in their storage closets until the day it might come of some use (say, when somebody decided to make a blueberry flavor).
Alas for poor blueberry, it never got its chance. The candy companies began using blue for the raspberry flavor, and thus blue raspberry was born.
So…blue raspberry saved kids from cancer?
You know, it’s funny how the tiniest things from history can surprise you. Oh, don’t worry, I still hate blue raspberry with all my being. But at least I know now why they made it. However, I still think that the time has come for the candy companies to wake up and realize that there is no such thing as blue raspberry. The blueberry has been patiently waiting its turn to be converted into a mixture of barely edible food coloring and high fructose corn syrup.
C’mon, guys. Let’s save the 4 extra letters it takes to make blue raspberry and campaign for our blueberry flavor. And in coming years, if they create a yellow flavor that is discovered to cause unnatural outbreaks of acne in young children, maybe we can start a purple lemon flavor. But until then, let’s stick to the fruit that really exists.