The Glitter Mystery

Ulalume

tart of darkness
Joined
Jan 3, 2009
Messages
3,052
Likes
5,314
Points
219
Location
Tejas
#2
I immediately thought of food before I'd read the article. My mom owned a bakery, and I recall all the many jars of sparkly cake toppings that you'd assume are sugar, but seem to lack definitive ingredients on the label. Ingredients in food color can be awfully vague too.
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
5,767
Likes
2,327
Points
234
#3
Guesses from that Reddit thread:
  • It is added to luxury beauty products with 'diamond dust' because real diamond dust is not sparkly. ('Diamond dust' cosmetic products are probably not a big enough industry to be the answer to the 'glitter mystery'.)
  • It is used as an adulterant in place of spices in food, e.g. pepper might be half pepper, half matte black glitter. (This doesn't make any sense because glitter costs $100 per pound.)
  • It is used in banknotes. Someone took a 900x magnified photo of a US banknote that they claim shows glitter. This would be used as an anti-counterfeiting measure and the type of glitter used would be kept secret. Apparently other countries also use glitter in banknotes.
  • The army uses large amounts of glitter as 'chaff' to confound radar and thermal imaging. I think this a compelling theory but according to this site the US army only has one chaff producer, based in NC rather than NJ.
  • Apple uses it in product finishes
  • The gemstone industry somehow uses it, e.g. in artificial opals
  • It is used as a coating for non-stick pans
  • It is used in toothpaste. (I don't know if the USA is totally different, but I don't remember every having sparkly toothpaste).
  • It is used in bread or Coca-Cola or powdered sugar or fruit or ... (the most obviously objection being if there was glitter in all our food, we would see it).
A lot of people are guessing things like cosmetics and paints - to me these seem like fairly unsurprising things to use glitter in, so don't fit the bill. Some posters claim to have experience in the industrial F&B industry and say that they definitely don't use glitter in that way.


PS Mods - is there any way you can move this thread to 'conspiracy'?
 
Last edited:

Min Bannister

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 5, 2003
Messages
3,412
Likes
2,683
Points
184
#4
A lot of people are guessing things like cosmetics and paints - to me these seem like fairly unsurprising things to use glitter in, so don't fit the bill. Some posters claim to have experience in the industrial F&B industry and say that they definitely don't use glitter in that way.
Yes, like Ulalume, I immediately thought of food before even reading. Of course things like glittery cake toppings are easy to see but I don't think you would see it if it were ground finely. You would just get a nice healthy sheen on the dull grey processed items that already need artificial colouring and flavouring in order to resemble food.
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
5,767
Likes
2,327
Points
234
#11
Here's the article that started it all - Caity Weaver writing for the New York Times. I've highlighted the specific substance under discussion.

Each December, surrounded by wonderlands of white paper snowflakes, bright red winterberries, and forests of green conifers reclaiming their ancestral territory from inside the nation’s living rooms and hotel lobbies, children and adults delight to see the true harbinger of the holidays: aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate.
It's a very interesting and funny article and worth a read.
 
Last edited:

AnonyJoolz

Captainess Sensible
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Messages
469
Likes
1,025
Points
134
Location
Having a nice cup of tea and a sit-down.
#12
The use of pure metals to adorn food in a technique akin to gilding has been taking place for thousands of years but that is normally pure gold or silver, beaten to 'leaf' before adorning dishes. It's still extensively used to day in the Indian subcontinent, known as 'vark' or 'varak' but was also used in mediaeval Europe.
 

Xanatic*

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Mar 10, 2015
Messages
2,754
Likes
1,973
Points
154
#13
Gold is quite chemically unreactive though, so quite safe to use in food. Not sure about silver. Glitter is probably a different matter.
 

Xanatic*

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Mar 10, 2015
Messages
2,754
Likes
1,973
Points
154
#15
That is a side effect of colloidal silver, I'm not sure solid silver in food will have that same effect.

Actually isn't that photo of Papa Smurf of a guy with a genetic defect? Some form of skin anoxia that turns his skin blue.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
9,804
Likes
9,526
Points
294
Location
Out of Bounds
#16
That is a side effect of colloidal silver, I'm not sure solid silver in food will have that same effect.
Actually isn't that photo of Papa Smurf of a guy with a genetic defect? Some form of skin anoxia that turns his skin blue.
The guy in the photo is a colloidal silver user.

Colloidal silver is probably the most efficient way to turn your skin blue or purple, but argyria isn't limited to colloidal silver intake. Long-term exposure to most any silver compounds or silver dust can cause argyria if the residual silver levels increase far enough. At very high levels silver is toxic.
 

gordonrutter

Justified & Ancient
Staff member
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
1,034
Likes
255
Points
114
#17
That is a side effect of colloidal silver, I'm not sure solid silver in food will have that same effect.

Actually isn't that photo of Papa Smurf of a guy with a genetic defect? Some form of skin anoxia that turns his skin blue.
methemoglobinemia is the genetic disorder and there was a particular (inbred) family in the Kentucky hills that had this disorder and they are often used in genetics text books.
The person depicted by EnolaGaia is Paul Karason who took colloidal silver for ten years as a home made remedy for dermatitis.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
9,804
Likes
9,526
Points
294
Location
Out of Bounds
#18
Top