"Flavours" That Don't Taste Like The Actual Thing

Comfortably Numb

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 7, 2018
Messages
4,330
Likes
5,856
Points
204
Location
Phone
#31
I have bit of a sugar addiction but cherry coke or cherry beer is sickingly sweet. Like drinking marcipan.
Was invited to a, rather formal, social gathering, just Sunday night there.

'Yes, I'll have a drink, thank you'.

Having duly noted it was a, 'wine & nibbles evening' (local Dramatic Society, fundraising), still speculatively ventured, 'Vodka and diet cola, please'?

Kind response: 'I know we have some vodka somewhere and sure we have some of that other stuff as well...'.

So... on receipt of same and having a rather large swig...

Something is instantaneously not right...

'Diet cola'? One enquires...

'We only have the the cherry kind, hope that's alright'...

The word, 'abomination' exists for a reason...
 

Ladyloafer

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
529
Likes
1,031
Points
133
#33
I've had problems with this issue since early childhood (the 1950's).

The first faux flavor to gag me was 'orange'. I never thought the popular 'orange' soft drinks of the time (e.g., Orange Crush) tasted anything like real oranges.

There was an ostensibly orange-flavored prescription syrup I had to ingest 'way too much of during my childhood illnesses that left a taste memory so horrifying I still choke on anything that insinuates it.

I was always fond of grapes, but I can't say any of the allegedly 'grape' confections or soft drinks ever tricked my taste buds into believing they had any relationship with the fruit.

By the time I was in my twenties (1970's) I was avoiding pop foods and concentrating on the 'real' things. Since then I rarely taste artificially flavored sweets / sodas, and when I do they all seem pretty much the same except for relative tartness.
Curiously we almost never have 'grape' flavoured foods or drink in the UK. I always used to think such a thing would be 'wine' flavoured (grapes/wine).
otoh we have a lot of blackcurrant flavour. Apparently growing blackcurrants in USA in banned! yet you can hardly ever buy blackcurrants as a fruit here, so no-one really knows what they taste like, only the 'flavour'.
 

Tigerhawk

Dazed and confused...
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
2,152
Likes
2,439
Points
154
Location
Skaro
#35
I like "coffee flavored", but I don't like actual coffee. Any coffee drink I get is drowned in creams and sugars, like a frappucino.
While I find actual coffee to taste like the burnt scrapings from a saucepan, I like coffee flavoured chocolate and ice cream. Perhaps it's the lethal amount of sugar in these confections that I like...
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,271
Likes
5,192
Points
309
#36
bmcs said:
I'm a real ale drinker, who particularly enjoys a pint of bitter.
It may be hoppy, malty, caramelly, citrussy etc. but never really "bitter" (unless it's going off).
The bitterness should come from noble hops put early in the boiling stage. You can try some American beers which advertise high IBUs if you want to try something genuinely bitter, but I think that's more of a gimmick than anything else.

Before hops were mandated by law in British ale (they were a relatively late arrival), other herbs were used as a gruit (bittering agent/preservative) including rosemary, heather, and possibly hallucinogens like henbane.
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
2,781
Likes
4,666
Points
159
Location
Everywhere.
#37
I love 'cherry' flavoured things, but not real cherries, Loooooove Marachino ones and the cherry drops, but it has to be the round ones, the oval ones taste shite. I dont like almonds, but love marzipan and ammereto etc

The fruit salad does not taste the same, i have had one a couple of days ago and threw the packet out today
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHH.
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
Joined
Aug 9, 2001
Messages
5,419
Likes
10,243
Points
309
#40
The first faux flavor to gag me was 'orange'. I never thought the popular 'orange' soft drinks of the time (e.g., Orange Crush) tasted anything like real oranges.
My oldest mate moved to southern Spain (Andalusia) years ago. I’ve visited him twice. Orange trees are like weeds down there; he has a dozen or so in his own garden. One can walk along the main streets of his local towns, and simply reach up while strolling to pluck fresh oranges from the trees that line the roads.

Every local supermarket sells Sunny Delight.

maximus otter
 

Tigerhawk

Dazed and confused...
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
2,152
Likes
2,439
Points
154
Location
Skaro
#41
My oldest mate moved to southern Spain (Andalusia) years ago. I’ve visited him twice. Orange trees are like weeds down there; he has a dozen or so in his own garden. One can walk along the main streets of his local towns, and simply reach up while strolling to pluck fresh oranges from the trees that line the roads.

Every local supermarket sells Sunny Delight.

maximus otter
For a minute, I thought your Sunny Delight was like the Australian SunnyBoy - an "orange" flavoured ice block in a tetrahedral (vaguely pyramid shape) pack that was a bastard to open and best avoided!
 

OneWingedBird

Beloved of Ra
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Messages
15,653
Likes
6,825
Points
284
#42
There's a number of youtube videos claiming that the reason that banana flavour tastes nothing like actual bananas is because it was developed to emulated the flavour of a different cultivar of banana that we don;t get anymore.

Seems plausible, not so sure what the excuse for every other type of fruit flavour is.
 

Bigphoot2

Not sprouts! I hate sprouts.
Joined
Jul 30, 2005
Messages
6,927
Likes
18,364
Points
294
#43
My oldest mate moved to southern Spain (Andalusia) years ago. I’ve visited him twice. Orange trees are like weeds down there; he has a dozen or so in his own garden. One can walk along the main streets of his local towns, and simply reach up while strolling to pluck fresh oranges from the trees that line the roads.

Every local supermarket sells Sunny Delight.

maximus otter
I knew someone whose wife was a food technologist. He came home with a bottle of Sunny Delight for the kids, she read the ingredients and threw it in the bin and made it clear never to buy it again.
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,271
Likes
5,192
Points
309
#44
There's a number of youtube videos claiming that the reason that banana flavour tastes nothing like actual bananas is because it was developed to emulated the flavour of a different cultivar of banana that we don;t get anymore.

Seems plausible, not so sure what the excuse for every other type of fruit flavour is.
The top banana used to be gros Michel aka big mikes. Their popularity fell off after a blight. Here in Hong Kong you get at least three types of bananas on the regular: milk bananas, big bananas, and fragrant bananas, which are the kind you get in the UK. They all taste slightly different.
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
2,781
Likes
4,666
Points
159
Location
Everywhere.
#45
There's a number of youtube videos claiming that the reason that banana flavour tastes nothing like actual bananas is because it was developed to emulated the flavour of a different cultivar of banana that we don;t get anymore.

Seems plausible, not so sure what the excuse for every other type of fruit flavour is.
I've heard that too, my guess is that it attempts to emulate that other type of banana but fails, given that, as you say, other fruit flavours don't resemble the originals either.
 

Ladyloafer

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
529
Likes
1,031
Points
133
#52
ah yes. I'd forgotten those. Quite tasty too, though not really 'grapey' compared to grape juice.
I was thinking more like sweets, desserts, squash, pop etc. Grape flavour is not unheard of but it is unusual.
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
2,781
Likes
4,666
Points
159
Location
Everywhere.
#53
"Grape soda" is unusual in the UK, I've had it once or twice, it doesn't taste much like Scloer, which is nice, nor does it taste like actual grapes either. Mostly it was just overpoweringly sweet and generally "fruity".
 

Ladyloafer

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
529
Likes
1,031
Points
133
#54
https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/why-doesnt-cherry-candy-taste-like-real-cherries/

some answers here.

And he smelled a whiff of perfume from a woman who was sitting next to him. And she smelled exactly, to him, like Concord grapes, like those dark purple grapes that sometimes you find at the grocery store or farmer’s markets. This was important to him because he was a maker of flavoring extracts for bottled sodas and for soda fountains.
So he went through chemical catalogs and he found the chemical in question– methyl anthranilate, which was being sold under the name Synthetic Neroli– Orange Blossom Essence. So chemists in Germany and Austria had found this methyl anthranilate chemical in neroli, which is orange blossoms and is important perfume material at the time, and were selling it as this floral scent. But he seized upon this resemblance with Concord grapes and started using it in grape flavor. And there was a boom in great flavored sodas in the[20thC] teens.
And I think the reason is that methyl anthranilate is a flavor compound in American grapes– in vitis labrusca grapes, which include Concord grapes. And it’s not found in European grapes– in vitis vinifera grapes. So the manufacturers of this synthetic compound in Germany and Europe wouldn’t have noticed the resemblance with grapes because they were eating a different kind of grape.
and bananas

And that’s actually– you’re absolutely right about the change in the banana regime. Prior to the 1950s, the commercial banana variety that was widely available was known as the Gros Michel– Fat Mike, or Big Mike, for you French speakers. And banana cultivation is a monoculture, and in the ’50s it was sort of a combination of various kinds of fungal plagues that caused the Gros Michel to be replaced with a banana that we know now– Cavendish. So, Gros Michel did have more of this compound called isoamyl acetate, which we associate with fake banana flavor, than the Cavendish. It did taste, apparently, more candy like. It’s not extinct. You can still find them some places.
That flavor has, actually– I looked into this story, and one of the most astonishing things about that is that isoamyl acetate based banana flavors were being sold, and used, and were actually quite popular in the United States, at least 10 years before bananas were widely commercially available. So, you see banana flavor in the US in the 1860s, but bananas as a widely available commercial product, generally, are associated with 1876– the Philadelphia centennial.

]
and as for cherry/almond

We got a tweet from Tom who says, is it true that artificial cherry and artificial almond are the same? He says, we did an experiment in 8th grade that fooled us with coloring alone.
NADIA BERENSTEIN: Huh, well that is– that’s very astute, actually. So, benzaldehyde, which is one of the compounds that is used in these heirloom cherry flavors, is the same compound that you find in essential oil of bitter almonds. And the reason for that, I think, is that in the late 19th century cherry flavor was more often associated with wild cherries and with cherry liqueurs, like maraschino liqueur, which had more of that pit flavor.
You find the benzaldehyde molecule, actually, in cherry pits and stems.
Ha! they're the same!
 

Lord Lucan

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Feb 17, 2017
Messages
1,792
Likes
4,355
Points
154
#55
There's a number of youtube videos claiming that the reason that banana flavour tastes nothing like actual bananas is because it was developed to emulated the flavour of a different cultivar of banana that we don;t get anymore.

Seems plausible, not so sure what the excuse for every other type of fruit flavour is.
True, we eat Cavendish bananas now where as artificial banana flavour is based on the Gros Michel variety. Don't ask me how I know this but there is quite a difference in taste.
 

Ladyloafer

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
529
Likes
1,031
Points
133
#56
A few years ago I had an endoscopy as an out-patient (when they stick a tube down your throat to look at your stomach) and they asked 'are you allergic to any foods'? Before spraying the numbing anaesthetic down my throat.
'omg' i shrieked, 'what flavour is that, its nasty'.

It was banana. They sprayed banana flavour in my throat. That tasted nothing like actual banana.

I don't know if there was a medical reason (swallow reflex for the tube, get the stomach acids churning because it thinks its getting food??) or if they were all a bunch of sadists in the pay of Big Flavourings. :shifty:
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,271
Likes
5,192
Points
309
#58
The problem with aromatic compounds is that they disappear fairly quickly when subjected to heat, time, oxygen, or other things. I made a tarragon-infused beer (yes, it was disgusting, thank you) and though I was fairly careful not to cook the herb for too long (putting it in right at the end of the boil), after two weeks' fermentation only some of the compounds that make up the distinctive flavour of tarragon survived. This resulted in a sweet, liquorishy flavour, without some of the other subtleties of the herb.

The same thing with hops: you get different flavours from adding them at different points in the process. I won't bore you with the details, but early = bitter, fewer aromatic/subtle flavours, and later = the opposite. So brewers will often add hops at several stages in the making of a single beer.

Also think of paprika. After a few weeks on the shelf, you might as well be putting dust in your stew.

Similarly, I think a lot of the chemicals that make the distinctive flavour of a fresh strawberry or banana are not 'tough' enough to be satisfyingly reproduced in flavourings.

'Strawberry flavour', by the way, is Ethyl methylphenylglycidate, an ester that I guess reminded someone of strawberries when they first synthesised it. Here's a list of the chemicals that make the flavour of a real strawberry. (A lot of fruit flavours come from esters. When beer tastes 'fruity', it's to do with esters produced by the yeast during fermentation)
 

OneWingedBird

Beloved of Ra
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Messages
15,653
Likes
6,825
Points
284
#59
I knew someone whose wife was a food technologist. He came home with a bottle of Sunny Delight for the kids, she read the ingredients and threw it in the bin and made it clear never to buy it again.
Was at a friend's house when that stuff first came out and saw a bottle in the fridge, read the label to him, seem to recall it was like 4% actual orange juice... that went straight in the bin too.
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,271
Likes
5,192
Points
309
#60
The Secrets of Fake Flavours - BBC

Banana myth?

However, if you dig in to this tale a little it soon becomes clear that there is little or no verifiable source that artificial banana is based on Gros Michel. “It sounds very, very unlikely to me,” says synthetic organic chemist Derek Lowe. “The thing is, banana can be mimicked most of the way with a simple compound called isoamyl acetate. Many chemists know it as ‘banana ester’ and anyone who smells it immediately goes, ‘banana!’ ”

Isoamyl acetate, which is indeed found in bananas, is a very simple compound that is both cheap to produce and highly versatile. Diluted, it smells more like pears than bananas and logical combinations of this ester have proved popular. Pear drops, for example, a well-known classic British sweet, contain both isoamyl acetate (banana flavour) and ethyl acetate (pear flavour).
“Confirmation by gas chromatographic studies showed fewer compounds and less volatile components for the Gros Michel compared to the Valery fruit.”

This hints that the Gros Michel does indeed have a biochemical profile that tallies with the idea of a more monotonous, less complex flavour. So perhaps there is some truth in the banana flavouring whodunnit after all. Once upon a time, banana flavourings really did taste more like the real thing.


The case of the Gros Michel suggests that we shouldn’t be so quick to label artificial flavours as “fake”. In many other flavourings, too, the chemistry is very similar to the genuine article – the reason they don’t taste the same is that they fail to reproduce other factors such as ripeness, age or flavours produced after cooking, for example.
 
Top