Ah, blue raspberry. Everyone's favorite, deliciously artificial candy flavor. I can recall memories of bright blue tongues and stained fingertips as I struggle to reach the last blue gummy bear before it is too late. Blue raspberry is delicious because its flavor is unique and unmatched in nature. Or is it?
We're all familiar with requests such as "I want a blue one," in reference to Jolly Ranchers, or the speech at which the new blue Sour Patch Kids disappear from a communal bag. There is something distinctly pleasant about the tart, sweet, unique flavor of blue raspberry candy.
In fact, the blue raspberry flavor has a basis in nature. The flavor we know and love originates from the Rubus leucodermis- or Whitebark raspberry. This raspberry varietal is nowhere near as vibrantly blue as candy manufacturers lead us to believe, but they do exhibit a deep purple/indigo color that may have inspired the name "blue raspberry."
The addition of blue dyes to whitebark raspberry flavored items began in the 60s and 70s, when commercial ice-pops became staples in middle-class American households. These ice-pops came packaged in thin, clear plastic tubes. The right color was a crucial marketing objective.
With other red fruits such as cherry and strawberry, manufacturers needed a way to differentiate whitebark raspberry from the bunch. Originally, the solution was the addition of a cheap, deep red Amaranth dye. However, this dye caused severe reactions and was swiftly pulled from production.
At the time, blue dye was available to these food manufacturers, and had not yet been employed as no fruit 'needed' this coloring. As it was available and unclaimed by another flavor, this bright blue dye was soon added to whitebark raspberry flavored items.
Knowing that the blue raspberry isn't fake news, I feel better about indulging in my most colorful addiction.