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Things that are always fake?
March 27, 2010 8:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples of things - anything - for which the "authentic" version is exceedingly rare or non-existent, and most or all of the real-life versions are imitations/knockoffs/replicas/synthetic/fake. Especially if the fake versions are commonly believed to be real.

I remember hearing as a kid that star sapphires didn't exist in nature and that all of them are synthetic. (Turns out this isn't true.) I know lab-created and treated gemstones are fairly common, but natural ones aren't unattainably rare.

Is there anything out there that's always or almost always fake? I can think of a lot of things that are often faked, but there are plenty of the authentic version too - e.g. the gemstone example, designer handbags - and that's not really what I'm looking for.

I'm using a fairly wide definition of "fake," since different types of things have different standards of authenticity.

Mostly I'm looking for objects or occurrences that might exist in everyday life. I'm not particularly interested in tricks used in film, TV, photography, advertising, etc. since fakery is common and expected. I'm also not interested in anything involving psychics, aliens, or other supernatural stuff.
posted by Metroid Baby to Grab Bag (81 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
 
maraschino cherries and grenadine syrup.
posted by ohio at 8:40 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Many, many "apple" flavored things are actually flavored with pear juice.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:42 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Many people have never had real vanilla but only vanillin.
posted by vacapinta at 8:43 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Balsamic vinegar? Most is dyed and flavored instead of made the traditional way, I believe.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:44 AM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's essentially impossible to buy truffle oil that has ever met a truffle.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:44 AM on March 27, 2010


Most wasabi is not actually wasabi, but in fact a mix of horseradish and mustard. Genuine wasabi is available in the US, but it is much more rare.
posted by fermezporte at 8:45 AM on March 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


Cuban cigars (in the US).
posted by true at 8:47 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Antique furniture comes to mind. I remember a restorationist writing something like: "If all of the antique European furniture sold as such were shipped back to Europe it would fill every manor house and cottage thrice over."

In the same vein, a lot of wood is faked on both antique and new pieces - new pieces are either printed or laminated, older pieces are stained/painted: Pine or poplar becomes rosewood, for example.
posted by Tchad at 8:47 AM on March 27, 2010


Almond paste in anything pastry (except sometimes from high end bakeries) usually has a high peach/apricot kernel content instead of almonds.

Stradivarius violins. Faked with comic regularity and usually the most awful fakes you can imagine.
posted by quarterframer at 8:50 AM on March 27, 2010


maraschino cherries and grenadine syrup.

To expand on this (because it wasn't obvious to me): True Maraschino cherries should be made from Marasca cherries, which are not commonly available and virtually all maraschino cherries are made from more common varieties. Similarly, grenadine is supposed to be made from pomegranate or cherry juice and sugar, but almost all commercial preparations are made from corn syrup and artificial flavorings.
posted by jedicus at 8:53 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Parmesan (parmigiano) cheese.
posted by aqsakal at 8:56 AM on March 27, 2010


I never knew that the Herbsaint I was drinking was not the original recipe until this past holiday season when they released a version made from the original recipe. The commonly-available Herbsaint is flavored with things artificial, the new old version is not.
posted by komara at 8:58 AM on March 27, 2010


The "fruit" in most fruit bread is candied turnip.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:58 AM on March 27, 2010


Oh, almost all the cinnamon you see for sale is actually cassia or other related species. True cinnamon is not commonly available. See here for a comparison.

The ubiquitous canned pumpkin is actually a variety of winter squash, not true pumpkin, which is considerably stringier. Having made pies from both canned pumpkin and from scratch, I can say that the taste is essentially identical, but the stringiness is noticeable.
posted by jedicus at 8:59 AM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry, meant to throw a link to this news story about Herbsaint in there.
posted by komara at 8:59 AM on March 27, 2010


If your experience is anything like mine, then behold:
The grilled cheese sandwich: not usually grilled but fried, and usually made with processed cheese which is an abomination of a manufacture process.

Many, many "apple" flavored things are actually flavored with pear juice.

Similarly, go to the grocery store and pick up any juice, like cranberry juice and look at the ingredients. What is the first ingredient going to be? "Apple and/or pear juice". That one always bothers me.
posted by tybeet at 9:00 AM on March 27, 2010


There is actually a decent gemstone example: alexandrite. It's a very rare stone naturally, and back when the only source was Russia, they were very stingy with selling those stones to foreign sources, so any size or quality alexandrite is going to be very expensive. Price goes up by damn near an order of magnitude if you're talking about a stone with good color and a good dramatic color change in UV light.

Along comes Chatham, who figures out how to grow them in their labs. They're real, but "fake" in the sense that they're not naturally occurring stones. Excellent color, vivid color change. Most alexandrite of any real size that I've seen and sold in the US has been lab grown.

Also, Rolex watches.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:01 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Many, many "apple" flavored things are actually flavored with pear juice.

And conversely, it used to be that Jiffy blueberry muffin mix came with dried apple bits that had been mixed with flavoring and dyed purple. Actual blueberries don't dry well.

(Apparently in the days since my third grade class went on a tour of the Jiffy mix factory, they've stopped doing this and started doing something with real blueberries. But this is one of my favorite factoids, god dammit, and I'm not gonna stop using it just because it stopped being true.)

While we're on foods, saffron is very often faked, since it's godawful expensive and most people are more familiar with its color than with its flavor. If you count stuff like sazon con azafrán — which is MSG, yellow food dye, annato, turmeric and just the tiniest bit of saffron — it's likely that the majority of the stuff by bulk that is sold or used as saffron is fake.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:02 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sports memorabilia, particularly autographs, are apparently fake nearly all the time (I've read 90% or more).
posted by ecurtz at 9:07 AM on March 27, 2010


Crab meat. It's almost always imitation crab meat.
posted by chairface at 9:08 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is American cheese actually cheese?
posted by A189Nut at 9:21 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lavender oils and flowers in potpourri is almost always from the hybrid lavandin, as real lavender officinalis has a more woody, herbaceous scent and is not as easy to grow in lower elevations.
posted by darkstar at 9:22 AM on March 27, 2010


I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but there is a historian named Richard Jensen who has argued extensively that "Help Wanted: No Irish Need Apply" signs were never manufactured or widely used for actual hiring purposes in the U.S. They were, however, manufactured in the 1910s specifically as decoration for Irish-American bars, which liked to refer defiantly to Irish people's experiences of oppression. People buy old "No Irish Need Apply" signs thinking that they're a relic of anti-Irish discrimination, but they're really buying the bar-decoration signs.
posted by craichead at 9:27 AM on March 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


True cinnamon is not commonly available.

In the U.S., the cinnamon you find at Hispanic markets in little glassine envelopes is usually true cinnamon. I have some in the kitchen right now. It has a more subtle, fruitier flavor, and it's much easier to work with, since it's easy to crush, as opposed to hard, wooden cassia bark.

But yes, that's an excellent example.

posted by gimonca at 9:28 AM on March 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Prior to classic cocktails becoming all sorts of hip, a real daiquiri was almost impossible to come by. That smoothie-with-rum concoction is still all most people know around here.
posted by piedmont at 9:28 AM on March 27, 2010


Damascus steel is a sword/blade steel from the Middle East, supposedly super sharp and super durable. The method to make Damascus steel has been lost. Nowadays any pattern-welded steel is referred to as "Damascus" even though it has not been made with the same techniques as the original.
posted by meowzilla at 9:29 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding parmesan, if you buy something calling itself "Parmigiano-Reggiano", it had better be from somewhere near Parma/Reggio Emilia/Modena/Bologna or Mantova, or whoever's selling it is violating EU law. That's fraud, not just confusion about whether something is or isn't genuine. Similarly "Champagne" and "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena" and "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia" — if they're not from those regions, they can't legally be called that.

Lab-grown jewels are synthetic, not fake. A lab-grown corundum crystal is a real ruby or sapphire, not a fake one; it's just synthetic. Describing moissanite or that DiamondAura stuff as "fake diamond" would be reasonable, though.

In the realm of jewels, natural emeralds have such heavy inclusions, if you see a clear and flawless emerald, it's either a fake or heavily treated.

What are commonly referred to as "baby carrots" are just full-sized carrots that have been carved down to size.

Somebody I know got burned within the past month buying songs through iTunes. He said it was like one of those late-night KTEL ads for a compilation album with "all songs by the original artists!" deals: when he downloaded them, they turned out to be cover versions recorded by some fake group called The Original Artists.
posted by Lexica at 9:30 AM on March 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is American cheese actually cheese?

I think we all know the answer to that, but I found this Wikipedia bit interesting and may clarify whether American cheese fits the OP's definition:

The processed variety of American Cheese is sold in three basic packaging varieties: individually wrapped cheese slices, small pre-sliced blocks of 16 to 36 slices, and large blocks meant for deli counters. The individually wrapped cheese slices are typically the least like natural cheese. These “slices” are actually individually poured onto each plastic wrapper and then set to emulsify. Small (e.g., 16 to 36 slice) blocks of presliced, but not individually-wrapped, American Cheese are also marketed, often with the branding “deluxe” or “old fashioned.” This variety of American Cheese is similar in ingredients and texture to that of modern block American Cheese. Before the advent of the individually wrapped variety, this was the typical variety that Americans purchased. Hence, some people refer to this as “traditional”, “old fashioned”, or “classic” American Cheese. American Cheese in block form sold at deli counters is typically a more natural cheese than its individually wrapped cousin. Nonetheless, most block American Cheese is still a processed cheese
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:32 AM on March 27, 2010


Parmesan (parmigiano) cheese.

Parmigiano Reggiano is a proected designation of origin within the EU, is there any evidence of mass fraud regrarding lebelling of falsely cheese as genuine?
posted by biffa at 9:33 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"World War I" trench lighters.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:37 AM on March 27, 2010


The Shelby Cobra is the most popular kit car. There were only a few hundred "real" ones made in the late 1960's.
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2010


Is American cheese actually cheese?

From What Einstein Told His Cook 2, author Robert J. Wolke:

Pasteurized process cheese: A mixture of two or more cheese varieties that have been heated and blended together with an emulsifier and optional ingredients such as water, salt, or coloring, into what the FDA appetizingly calls 'homogeneous plastic mess' with a minimum of 47% milk fat. These cheese products may contain added cream or fat, making them more easily meltable, but they must be at least 51% actual cheese. Example: Most American cheeses.

Pasteurized process cheese food (note: not a 'cheese' but a 'food'): A pasteurized process cheese containing enough added ingredients such as cream, milk, skim milk, buttermilk, or whey to reduce the percentage of actual cheese in the product to below 51. May contain emulsifiers such as phosphates, citrates, or tartrates, but must contain at least 23% milk fat. Example: Land O'Lakes American Singles.

Pasteurized process cheese spread: A pasteurized process cheese food that may contain a sweetener plus stabilizing and thickening gums such as xanthin or carrageenan. Must contain at least 20% milk fat. Example: Kraft Olive and Pimento Spread.

Pasteurized process cheese product: Any process cheese product that contains less than 20% milk fat. Examples: Kraft Singles, Velveeta.

Imitation cheese: Made from vegetable oil. Minimum milk fat: zero percent. In a glass by itself is Cheez Whiz Cheese Dip or Cheese Sauce. After whey, its most abundant ingredient is canola oil. Milk fat? Less than 2%.

Orange glop: Not an official FDA classification, but the name I give to the stuff they pour over nachos, French fries, and hot dogs in places I wouldn't eat in.*


* I would eat in those places, occasionally. Mmmm, orange glop.
posted by cooker girl at 9:47 AM on March 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Soap. It's detergent! Gasp!

Most "pancake syrup" or "table syrup" doesn't have any maple in it at all; it's just HFCS flavoured with sotolon.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:48 AM on March 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Stradivarius instruments. Instrument makers in the 19th and 20th centuries often copied particular Stradivarius violins and inserted a label replicating the text of the original Stradivarius from which it was copied--for example, "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno 1725". They included no other additional information to indicate where/when the violin was actually made, or who made it.
posted by drlith at 9:48 AM on March 27, 2010


Orange glop: Not an official FDA classification, but the name I give to the stuff they pour over nachos, French fries, and hot dogs in places I wouldn't eat in.*

Actually, I was surprised to see that the first ingredient in a bulk-sized can of nacho cheese at Costco is in fact cheddar cheese, so it's not all necessarily colored, thickened oil.
posted by jedicus at 9:56 AM on March 27, 2010


Actual, unadulterated cranberry and grapefruit juices are hard to come by these days. Far more often than not, they're "cocktails" containing more apple/grape and orange juices, respectively, than cranberry or grapefruit.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:59 AM on March 27, 2010


Jedicus, I almost didn't include that part in my response because I too have seen cheddar cheese listed in the ingredients to orange glop. I think the amount of actual cheese is really small, though, and probably has no milk fat in it.
posted by cooker girl at 10:04 AM on March 27, 2010


The PCP folks buy for recreational use is not actual Phenylcyclohexyl piperidine but Ketamine, a horse tranquilizer.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:16 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chewing gum base is now almost completely synthetic. Only one manufacturer, that I know of, still uses the original rainforest chicle.
posted by whiskeyspider at 10:23 AM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


middleclasstool you are close but not quite factual. A natural alexandrite reflects different color in different light sources, no ultraviolet source required. Under a candle it will be purple and under fluorescent light it will be green. The color changes are almost always very subtle in naturally formed mined stones. The synthetic variety displays vivid color change. It is obviously "fake" in the sense of not naturally formed mined stones.

Naturally formed mined sapphires and rubies are often (perhaps nearly always) heated to darken their color. This one I do not understand. There isn't anything wrong with their color when unheated, and I believe the sapphire actually looks better unheated (rubies too but not so extreme as with sapphires). The fashion is indigo is most desired color. Corundum is the mineral in both cases as stated above and corundum is available in other colors as well if you are a collector and you want to acquire the complete set.
posted by bukvich at 10:25 AM on March 27, 2010


Linoleum. Almost all of what we think of as "linoleum" today is actually PVC, whereas real linoleum is made of various renewable materials and is much stronger and more durable.
posted by frolic at 10:32 AM on March 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I just finished reading the intensely catty book Perfumes by Turin and Sanchez. It talks fairly extensively about the synthetic scents that are now used in perfume as well as how companies reformulate old perfumes for a variety of reasons.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:36 AM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Silverware? Flatware eating utensils are ubiquitous, of course, but it's very rare to encounter actual silverware.
posted by darkstar at 10:56 AM on March 27, 2010


Genuine "Kalashnikov" assault rifles are pretty rare, thanks to Cold War era Russian policies of "technology transfer" that helped manufacturers in at least 19 other countries to make more than 100 million copies of the original AK-47 7.62mm weapon, and later, the "improved" AK-74 5.65 mm assault rifle. About 4% of all AK-47s were made in Russian arms factories, in any way connected with the organizations or bureaus with which Kalashnikov himself was ever associated. The Russian versions of the AK-47 haven't been made since 1959-60, in favor of the AK-74. Yet in China, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Egypt and Libya, production of new AK-47s, AKM and AK-74s still continue.

So, 96% of all "Kalashnikov" designed automatic rifles in the world today are "knockoffs," with that percentage rising every day, as foreign production continues to outpace Russian production by orders of magnitude. Now, Russia is trying to get license payments from the many foreign makers for the designs.
posted by paulsc at 11:08 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Outside of certain big cities in the USA, bagels are really somewhat gnarly faux bagels that are steamed instead of boiled/baked. Never had a real bagel until I was 21.

Most "butter cream" frosting (and various other varieties of frosting and icing) are really gnarly corn syrup mixes and not nearly as delicious real butter cream frosting. If you're not lucky enough to know someone who makes their own, you'll never get it.

Chocolate--arguably the common chocolate brands don't come close to resembling "real" chocolate but I could just be being snobby.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:12 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Coca-Cola once contained both coca and kola. It currently contains only the latter. Most other colas contain neither.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:29 AM on March 27, 2010


Finding a good bottle of absinthe is hard. Many of the commercially available products have very little in common with traditional absinthe, particularly egregious are Czech absinth, so called brewing kits, and the Absente brand. Unfortunately, price alone isn't a reliable indicator of quality when it comes to this product. Characteristically it should not be more than 70% alcohol, it should be distilled with a mix of herbs including anise, wormwood, and fennel, and should not have any sugar or artificial coloring added.
posted by CheshireCat at 11:30 AM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actual, unadulterated cranberry and grapefruit juices are hard to come by these days.

To be fair, that's mostly because pure cranberry juice is almost undrinkably tart to most palates.
posted by jedicus at 11:32 AM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be fair, that's mostly because pure cranberry juice is almost undrinkably tart to most palates.

Blasphemy!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:34 AM on March 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sectioned geodes and agates are almost all dyed now. Not quite what you are looking
for, but the resulting specimens are artificially spectacular. I think it was originally done
to simulate the appearance of amethyst geodes.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:03 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


...high peach/apricot kernel content instead of almonds.

I think this is actually what you might call the real deal, not some sneaky way of adulterating pure almonds--in fact, i'm pretty sure "authentic" amaretti are made with this almond/kernel mix (giving their flavor a slightly bitter edge), and, in fact, the ersatz versions contain almond alone. I could be wrong about this.
posted by pullayup at 12:04 PM on March 27, 2010


Speaking of perfumes, there are several flowers whose produced fragrance can't be "captured" from the flower, and must be synthesized. I think lily-of-the-valley and lilac are two, and I'm sure there are more.
posted by thebazilist at 12:08 PM on March 27, 2010


Red Snapper.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:09 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. A few decades ago, if you saw this for sale it was expensive and incredibly delicious—it tasted like ultimate essence of all that's good about coffee. Now if you see it for sale it's just expensive. I'm guessing the small amount of the real thing is snapped up by rich assholes connoisseurs before it hits the market.
posted by languagehat at 12:15 PM on March 27, 2010


Along the same lines as Red Snapper and Crab, a whole lot of sushi restaurants substitute cheaper fish for what you think you order.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:23 PM on March 27, 2010


Chinese silver coins (sycees).
posted by 7-7 at 12:47 PM on March 27, 2010


Religious relics. There are lots and lots of bones of saints and popes, fragments of the cross, etc., both belonging to churches and for sale on Ebay, far more than could possibly be genuine.
posted by unsub at 12:57 PM on March 27, 2010


Root Beer

Originally sassafrass, now is always artificially flavored.
posted by jpeacock at 1:21 PM on March 27, 2010


Actual, unadulterated cranberry and grapefruit juices are hard to come by these days.

Every grocery store where I live carries pure cranberry juice, even the big name stores. You just have to go to the natural food section.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:32 PM on March 27, 2010


How about a genuine Salvador Dali print? For a variety of reasons explained here, there were thousands of forged Dali prints sold in the 1980s making the chances that you have an authentic one very low.
posted by jeremias at 2:52 PM on March 27, 2010


Agave syrup/nectar.

Some claim that no matter what kind you buy, it's essentially high fructose corn syrup. (Well, except that it's processed using agave instead of corn.)
posted by sentient at 3:17 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Animals/Meat. Most people don't really eat animals. Industrially 'farmed' animals have been modified extremely far from their wild roots. It's food, but it isn't exactly chicken.

Martinis. It used to be that a martini meant cold gin in a glass with a little vermouth and maybe an olive. But it's rare these days that you order a martini and get asked if you want gin.

What hot people look like when they age naturally. So many of the people on tv are full of various plastics.

Greek sculpture. For the Greeks, the statues embodied a certain worldview, it meant something very specific and special to them. The Romans came along and made a bunch of copies and now we put them in museums and look at them for their 'beauty.' You could extend that into a while hermeneutical thingamajiggy about artifacts in museums, how Shakespeare or Mozart is performed, etc.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:42 PM on March 27, 2010



Some claim that no matter what kind you buy, it's essentially high fructose corn syrup. (Well, except that it's processed using agave instead of corn.)

It's true that agave syrup is very high in fructose (often much higher than HFCS is) but it is still made from agave, it is not a fake product.
posted by davar at 3:48 PM on March 27, 2010


pink moonstone and maybe lots of other semi precious stones
posted by lakersfan1222 at 4:21 PM on March 27, 2010


In the US, most fruits labeled as Cantaloupe are actually musk melons.
posted by nursegracer at 4:55 PM on March 27, 2010


> Martinis. It used to be that a martini meant cold gin in a glass with a little vermouth and maybe an olive. But it's rare these days that you order a martini and get asked if you want gin.

Is this true? I find it hard—make that impossible—to believe. I can believe that there exist a few bars where you will get a vodka martini if you ask for a martini (not that I would ever return to them), but it can't possibly be true that that's so universal that it's hard to find a real martini.
posted by languagehat at 5:02 PM on March 27, 2010


As an avid watcher of the Pawn Stars show, I now know that nearly all confederate military memorabilia from the civil war era is fake or a replica, since the confederate army was so poor that most of the solider swords were abused/broken down/lost. Also antique boy's bikes in good condition--girls tend to take care of their bikes so there's lots of them still around, while most boys bikes were beat up and left to deteriorate. Ivory chinese figures are also usually fake these days due to the laws.
posted by ninjakins at 5:19 PM on March 27, 2010


Seconding relics. That's the classic example.
posted by alms at 6:37 PM on March 27, 2010


Does "Chinese Food" count as fake?
posted by sentient at 6:51 PM on March 27, 2010


If you bought Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir recently, chances are it wasn't pinot noir.
posted by gimonca at 7:11 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


bukvich, I didn't mean pure UV light. Alexandrite changes between incandescent and sunlight, and my understanding was that the difference was that incandescent light has far less UV.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:31 PM on March 27, 2010


Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. A few decades ago, if you saw this for sale it was expensive and incredibly delicious—it tasted like ultimate essence of all that's good about coffee. Now if you see it for sale it's just expensive. I'm guessing the small amount of the real thing is snapped up by rich assholes connoisseurs before it hits the market.

I recall a few years ago being amused that each year coffee exchanges report substantially more Blue Mountain being sold than Jamaica reports actually producing... To a lesser degree, the same is true of Kona.
posted by nonliteral at 10:13 PM on March 27, 2010


Marshmallows.

Punk rock.
posted by parkerama at 11:12 PM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jean Baudrillard wrote a book about authenticity and immitation, and the loss of the original called Simulacra and Simulation ... but it is a little beyond me
posted by jannw at 3:14 AM on March 28, 2010


Basalmic vinegar is $100 per fluid ounce if you find the actual stuff. Basalmic vinegar, as sold in the USA, is a chemically created concoction that's something vaguely in the same ballpark.

Popcorn butter, crabmeat, pre-sliced cheese, and the majority of maple syrup served in restaurants all come to mind.
posted by talldean at 7:12 AM on March 28, 2010


Balsamic vinegar is $100 per fluid ounce if you find the actual stuff. Basalmic vinegar, as sold in the USA, is a chemically created concoction that's something vaguely in the same ballpark.

Poppycock. This 25 year balsamic "is guaranteed authentic by the Consortium of Producers of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. The vinegar is designated DOC or Denominazione di orgine controllata numbered and sealed with a Seal of Guarantee." Thus, it's very much 'the actual stuff.' It's also only $150 for 3.5 oz, or $42 per oz, and that's for a 25 year old vinegar. Less aged balsamic is only going to be cheaper.

You can find the same stuff for sale at Sur la table and various other merchants.
posted by jedicus at 8:52 AM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


[few comments removed - a little less quibbling maybe?]
posted by jessamyn at 2:00 PM on March 28, 2010


Most wasabi is not actually wasabi, but in fact a mix of horseradish and mustard. Genuine wasabi is available in the US, but it is much more rare.

I was dropping by to say this. I've only had real wasabi once, in a high end japanese place in Vancouver, Canada. If you don't see an actual plant root dragged over a grater to produce it, you're likely not getting real wasabi.

Also, I recall the real fresh stuff was much more mild than the harsh fake stuff and added a nice taste.
posted by mathowie at 12:04 AM on March 29, 2010


The Shelby Cobra is the most popular kit car. There were only a few hundred "real" ones made in the late 1960's.

Man! I clicked in here just to say this one! A real one would be worth too much to drive regularly.

The Porsche 550 "Spyder" and Lotus Seven are too other cars that would most likely be kit cars if you saw one.
posted by sideshow at 9:08 PM on April 1, 2010


Surprised no one mentioned pearls. I think it's because there is supposedly no legal definition of "pearl." Virtually all of the pearls sold commercially -- certainly all of the ones you will see in your lifetime -- are cultured pearls. They can be more or less expensive depending on weight, composition, color, etc., not to mention the way they're strung. "Very few matched strands of natural pearls exist." (Wikipedia)
posted by Jane Austen at 9:18 AM on December 28, 2010


Yes! Pearls. Real pearls are rarely spherical. The perfect pearls you can buy at the jewelry store were made by shoving a man-made ball into an oyster for awhile; the oyster deposits a thin mineral coating over the ball, and then the mineral-coated ball is dug out of the animal and sold for $$$.

Also, the oysters spend their entire lives tied to lines. It's underwater battery farming, basically.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:49 AM on December 28, 2010


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