Is Blue Raspberry real? The origin of the flavor explained

Blue Raspberry

Blue raspberry has joined the likes of strawberry, orange, and lime in being one of the most popular drink flavors. Since the vibrantly blue hue associated with the flavor is pervasive in beverages, popsicles, and candies, the question of its origin does not arise in the minds of many.

Hence, it might come as a surprise to some that the blue raspberry flavor is not a naturally occurring one and is, in fact, only six decades old. Blue raspberry emerged as a reproduced flavor and coloring for raspberry-based food products in the mid-1900s.

Blue raspberry is an artificial flavor that was created to distinguish raspberry-flavored beverages and food from other flavors

Blue raspberry may be the go-to flavor for candies and popsicles but the flavor itself is not found in nature. The story goes that blue raspberry “originated in a laboratory, not a farm” as it was created by frozen drink companies to distinguish the raspberry flavor of popsicles from other flavors such as cherry, strawberry, and watermelon.

Back then, most of these flavors (including the raspberry one) were all presented in shades of red and it became increasingly difficult for customers to tell one flavor apart from the other.

As a result, for the raspberry flavor to stand out from the rest, popsicle makers used the ‘Brilliant Blue (FD&C Blue No. 1)’ artificial food dye to give their raspberry popsicles and beverages a distinctive shade of blue.

But when it comes to flavor, blue raspberry does not mimic the flavor of an ordinary raspberry. This is because most companies do not use raspberry in their blue raspberry products and instead prefer less costly substitutes such as apples or oranges to bring out the flavor.

However, it is noted that the blue raspberry flavor tastes similar to the flavor of ‘blackcap raspberry’ (also known as ‘whitebark raspberry’) that is found in the wild.

Though the origin of blue raspberry can be traced to the late 1950s, it gained popularity in the 70s

The earliest known reference to blue raspberry dates to 1958 when a Cincinnati-based shaved ice company by the name of ‘Gold Medal’ promoted blue raspberry as a new flavor and shade for their raspberry snow cones.

The trend caught on eventually and in the 1970s, the blue raspberry flavor became the signature flavor for any raspberry-based food and beverages. The flavor was further popularized by The ICEE Company when it adopted it as one of the flavors for its ICEE slushy drinks.

According to Susan Woods, the vice president of marketing for the company, their blue raspberry ICEE drink “paved the way for other blue raspberry-flavored beverages”.

“Raspberry tasted great as a frozen beverage. However, we wanted something that was a distinctly different color than our flagship flavor, cherry. We came up with blue raspberry. The color of blue raspberry flavor was strongly inspired by the blue color that is part of the ICEE brand,” Woods added.