Red velvet cake is confusing. The flavor is hard to describe, and there are so many variations in its taste that you never know if you’re enjoying the cake or just enjoying the fact that it’s colored “weirdly.” Depending on the specific recipe variations, you may just be eating red colored chocolate cake.

Red velvet was said to be introduced in the 1920’s by a hotel in New York, and it cost around $100 (other sources say it was introduced during the Great Depression – ya know, to brighten everyone’s spirits). The cake mix today is more popular and way less expensive – some restaurants actually dedicate their entire dessert menus to the cake. You still can’t find it everywhere, but it’s way easier to get your hands on the cake mix than it was during the time it was introduced. Now, you don’t have to spend insane amounts of money for a slice of this delicacy.

red velvet

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The red dye (Red 40 in most cases) can actually be harmful to your health. The dye itself has been said to cause cancer, so if you find yourself eating a lot of red velvet cake (which I do), you may be putting your health in jeopardy. Children are usually prone to outer body rashes upon eating foods with this dye in them (lesson: don’t take kids to restaurants if you want red velvet).

red velvet

Photo by Mei Lan Fogarty

Some red velvet recipes actually contain cocoa, so they really are just red chocolate cakes. When your eyes see the red, they register that you’re not eating chocolate, making it taste like something different. But eating is easy with eyes closed. I decided to do a taste test and ate red velvet flavored cake and ice cream (along with chocolate cake & ice cream) to see if there really a  is difference, or if I’m just crazy.

red velvet

Photo by Caitlin Wolper

Results: When I wasn’t looking and tried the flavors at random, I really could not tell the difference between the red velvet and the chocolate cake. But, I could tell the difference between the ice cream flavors. Unlike the ice cream, the recipe of the red velvet cake contained cocoa powder (just like the chocolate cake, obviously), making it hard to differentiate between the flavors. When my eyes were open, however, I thought the cake tasted different. Isn’t that crazy?


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