Where do fake flavors come from?
February 26, 2006 6:47 PM   Subscribe

How do they make fake flavors?

I was enjoying a box of RUNTS brand candy today, and it occured to me that the bananas actually only taste a little like a real banana. Then I started to wonder how these "fake" flavors get developed. How do they go about chemically synthesizing a taste?
posted by cosmicbandito to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by pmbuko at 6:50 PM on February 26, 2006

Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good covers everything you want to know.
posted by rafter at 7:12 PM on February 26, 2006

you may be interested tangentally to The Emperor of Scent.
posted by kcm at 7:14 PM on February 26, 2006

Here's an alternate link with some advertising tacked on the top, but it's not missing the drop-caps. You'll be most interested in the text from the heading "The Flavor Corridor" onward.
posted by rafter at 7:16 PM on February 26, 2006

Don't you use HPLC on a natural substance, which separates it out into it's chemical constituents, and then you attempt to recreate the natural substance with substitutes of the constituents?
posted by forallmankind at 7:54 PM on February 26, 2006

I really need to read Fast Food Nation. I hear so much about it, and that excerpt was great.

Of course, I got hungry watching Super Size Me, so MMMV, I suppose.
posted by danb at 8:02 PM on February 26, 2006

forallmankind - you could but there are vast (vast) libraries of molecules. It's easier to hire people to mix & match and taste-test than to isolate out the exact molecule (usually a large variety of molecules) that makes up a particular flavour.

Also, a lot of artificial flavours tastes nothing like the real thing, but it tastes like what people think it tastes like (I'd guess that a large percentage of cases is due to people never having ever tasted the real thing or tasted the synthetic before and much more frequently than the real thing).

/remembers making fake mint and fake banana flavour in 1st year organic chem
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:25 PM on February 26, 2006

Methyl salicylate.
posted by jenovus at 9:35 PM on February 26, 2006

Some years ago there was a great article in the New Yorker about this very subject, but I can't find the citation for you, sorry.
posted by scratch at 6:44 AM on February 27, 2006

Here's an enjoyable, and sort of informative interview with a guy who worked in a plant that manufactures flavoring agents.
posted by chr1sb0y at 7:37 AM on February 27, 2006

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