March 5, 2016

What flavor is bubblegum?

There is no real easy answer for this. That’s because bubblegum is it’s own unique flavor that doesn’t occur in nature. Yet it’s so much a part of our taste vocabulary that when we blind-taste a bubblegum-flavored soda or ice cream, we can identify it immediately.

Bubbles in history.

Frank Fleer invented bubble gum, originally called Blibber-Blubber in 1906. It never made it out of the test kitchen because it was too sticky and the flavor wasn’t that great. The taste we know as bubble gum today was created by Frank’s accountant Walter Diemer twenty years later.

It’s got amplitude.

The flavor is a blend that has (what you’ll hear Malcolm Gladwell and those in the science of taste call) high amplitude. Tastes with high amplitude blend together so tightly that they create their own unique flavor without any of the individual flavors easily detectable.

It tastes exactly like, well bubblegum.

There’s no official bubblegum flavor or formula. Numerous flavoring companies produce it from natural and artifical flavors and it tastes about the same, no matter where it comes from. It contains chemicals like ethyl methylphenylglycidate, isoamyl acetate, ethyl butyrate and ethyl acetate. Despite the toxic sound, they’re common artifical flavorings. But what will surprise you is that bubblegum contains flavors from orange oil, wintergreen oil and vanillin (artificial vanilla), though vanillin is probably the only one you come close to detecting. When mixed in combination and the right amounts, the flavors mingle. The result is bubble gum flavor.

So why’s it pink? Legend has it that was the only food coloring the Fleer lab had in stock, so Diemer used it.

Answers to more nagging questions.

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